Actually happened … Ratiba and Insaf Rushdie, the sisters of the heroine of the first Arab film, discovered Muhammad Fawzi, and the police closed their halls in order to preserve public security and lost their heritage for not filming | Opinion


Do you remember when the great artist Fouad Al-Mohandes sat among the girls of the shelter in the play “Hala Habibti”, singing with them “The little bird is his abode in the nest” ??

Do you remember the girl with a beautiful voice who asked her for her name and she said to him: “Monotonous and fair-minded,” and the name was one of the mentions of the play that we laughed about.

Who are monotonous and fair, and what is the “Rushdie Girls” story?

In one of the Alexandria houses at the beginning of the twentieth century, the family of a well-off merchant lived with a confectionery factory and four daughters (Ratiba, Equif, Fatima and Aziza), who lived in the tenderness and care of the father and mother, and their maternal grandmother, Hafida Hanim, who was in her youth one of the bridesmaids of Khedive Ismail’s wife.

As was the habit of old and rich houses in that period, the house was dominated by an atmosphere of culture and love of art, deepened by the most educated grandmother, who used to read foreign novels that were represented on the opera stage and attended with the wife of the Khedive, an educated lady who was fluent in French, Turkish, Greek, and some Arabic.

But fate had another opinion, and this calm atmosphere did not last much. Soon the father suffered great material losses and his factory went bankrupt, which could not keep up with the new types of sweets, and the family’s financial situation became in its most difficult state, so that the “girls” journey in the world of art began.

The two heroes of our story today, “Monotype and Fair Rushdie”, did not save us the artistic memory – unfortunately – anything from their art, and what we got about their art is nothing more than stories and oral tales, just like hundreds of artists and thousands of works that were lost before the knowledge of cinematographic cameras, which played the role of memory For the lucky ones who followed them, even their news and details of their lives reached us through their younger sister, “Fatima”, for whom cinema wrote immortality, while the absence of her lenses from the two older sisters wasted their artistic history.

The four sisters worked in art, each of them had her own direction, inclinations, and share of success and fame. The elder sister, Aziza, preceded them by working as a professional dancing artist in Alexandria, and then the two sisters, “Ratiba” (born in 1903) and “Insaf” (born in 1907) joined one of the The most famous theater group in Alexandria at that time, the “Amin Atallah” theater group, started singing and acting, and success was their ally, especially in light of the scarcity of actresses and singers at that time when the theater sometimes used male actors to present female roles.

While the younger sister “Fatima” continued with her mother watching what her sisters had achieved, and she did not know that she would be the luckiest of them, and she would be the only one among them that history will preserve with voice, image and biography, as the heroine of the first Arab movie “Tragedy Above the Pyramid” 1928, and one of the most important Arab cinema films. The whole group of “determination” 1939, until she bore the title “Sarah Bernard of the East.”

A theatrical career that was lost before it was documented

The two sisters remained monotonous and fair-minded at work for most of their lives, except for short periods of time they separated and each worked in a different band and theater.

Ansaf Rushdie worked in 1921 as an actress in “Casino de Paris”, and she participated in Sheikh Muhammad Yunus Al-Qadi in presenting the play “Al-Saad Waad.” She spent a period of no more than a year in this casino, until she suddenly retired and disappeared for five years. It was said about the reason for this absence. It was due to an unfinished marriage experience.

Photo by artist Insaf Rushdie

After the absence of five years, she returned again in 1926 to work in theaters and casinos, but this time with her sister, Rutaiba, and became one of the actresses of Ali Al-Kassar in the “Majestic” theater, but she did not last long with Al-Kassar, and left him with the first opportunity with a higher salary.

The next step for fairness was with the group “Amin Sidqi”, who separated from Ali Al-Kassar, and formed his own troupe at the “Semiramis” theater on Emad El-Din Street, and several plays were performed with him, including: “The Count Zaqzouq” and “Kingdom of Wonders”. Ensaf remained with Amin Sidqi. Until Al-Istiqlal decided to open a private hall in its name in 1927

Insaf Rushdie sits on the “Mounira Mahdia” seat on the “Bijou Place”

With a large sign bearing the name “Ensaf Rushdie Hall”, its journey began with the solo tournament and special success. Its name is adjacent to the names of the top theater groups and their name is placed among the names of the art stars at the time in the popular “Imad Eddin”, the stronghold of art and singing, and the hall that Insaf rented was originally a hall. ” The Peugeot Plus of Mounira Mahdia.

In her new hall, Ensaf did not perform and was content with singing, and included a number of female singers of that period, such as: Wajida, Rouhiyyah, Hikmat Al-Iskandariyah, Fawzia Sabry, Louisa, Naima, and then her older sister, “Aziza Rushdie,” which we mentioned in the beginning of the story.

As for the older sister, Ratiba, she moved between Naguib al-Rihani and Abd al-Rahman Rushdi, until she joined Ali al-Kassar and Amin Sidqi in 1924, but unlike her younger sister, Ansaf, when Amin Sidqi separated from his partner Kassar in 1925, she was not tempted by the salary increase. What Amin Sidqi offered her, and she chose to remain with the Kassar squad, and she became the heroine of the group and made many tournaments with him.

Until she joined INSAF in 1929 as a partner, and they opened a new hall on Fouad I Street (currently 26th of July Street) called “Monotonous Hall and Fair Rushdie”, but the life of this hall was short, and it only lasted six months, and it was closed to protect security This year, by order of Hakamadaria, the police of Egypt in April 1930, due to the frequent quarrels and riots between its customers.

A picture of Ratiba Rushdie from the play Majnun Layla from the Crystal Archive 1925 from the book Beirut Theaters and Dates

The duo is bland, fair and 4 new galleries in ten years

4 different halls are the outcome of the duo monotonous and fair during the era of the thirties, it did not take them several months after the police headquarters closed their halls on Fouad Street, until they opened a new hall, specifically in June 1931, and they rented the “Mahdi” casino, and they called it “Insaf Rushdie Hall” To escape the ruling administrative decision, which provides for the closure of the “monotonous and fair hall.”

In the summer of 1932, the economic crisis forced Najib Al-Rihani to leave his theater in Giza, “Al-Fantazio”, so the two sisters rented him and opened a “monotonous and fair-minded hall”, and the hall lasted for about one year only.

From Giza to Al-Alfi Street, you move the monotony and fairness of their halls, and introduce a new season in which the hall’s activity has increased with plays, and it is named “Casino” instead of “Hall,” so that the “Badeea and Insaf Rushdie Casino” continues throughout the 1934-1935 season.

The last thing that came to us about them … and their story with Fawzi Al-Haw (Mohamed Fawzi later)

Over time, the two sisters began to expand the casino and develop its activity, just as they added theater to the singing and dancing program, the 1938-1939 season (which is the last of their biographies in the office of art historians) witnessed the development of the casino and its transformation into a casino and cabaret, to provide singing, dancing, plays and various sketches.


Ratiba and Insaaf Rushdie’s halls and casinos knew many artists, the most prominent of which was the artist Muhammad al-Haw (Muhammad Fawzi), and when he became famous and became his fans, Badia Masabni agreed with him to work Maha in her band for five pounds per month, but soon a dispute occurred between them, which he left. , And he began to pursue cinema.

Fawzi was during his work with Rutaiba and fair to know their sister Fatima, who made her way to the cinema, and according to the stories she was bound by a love story that did not last long, so he resorted to her when Mounira al-Mahdia left, to help him work in the cinema, and in fact she helped him and his first work in cinema was to participate in developing songs The movie “Straight Path” sung by the singer Shahrazad, Jumba to Jump with Riad Al-Sunbati and Muhammad Al-Qasabji, and his name was written on the sequences of the film “Fawzi Al-Haw”, and the melodies were the beginning, in which he set his foot in the world of cinema.


– “Fatima Rushdie’s Memoirs,” by attorney Muhammad Refaat, issued by the “Culture House” Beirut – Lebanon.
– The book “The theater march in Egypt 1900-1935: The Lyrical Theater Groups” – Dr. Syed Ali Ismail – Issued by the “Egyptian General Book Authority”


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