You may not have heard of Mahragan – a fusion of electronica, hip-hop and traditional music – but young people in Cairo listen to little else. In this enjoyable doc, Franco-Tunisian filmmaker Hind Meddeb introduces us to some of the key players.
Essentially, these are ordinary kids caught up in an extraordinary political situation. They sing about money, music and football. Getting wasted is pretty high on the agenda. Underlying all this is frustration – often sexual (the parties are usually male-only), but also with politics and the economy. ‘Whose favour is this revolution in? We started strong, but the ending is unclear,’ goes one of the songs. There is some allusion to Tahrir Square, President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, though the film doesn't engage extensively with politics.
Instead, Meddeb focuses on the individuals: they hang out on roofs playing keyboards to pigeons and fly kites on the roadside between piles of rubble. When some of them hit the big time, all the usual clichés about fame, ego and contract disputes kick in. The sense of place and friendship are powerfully drawn, but more political context would have been welcome.