Just two weeks after hitting movie theatres, the film Hepta made it to the top of Egypt’s box office with EGP 17m in revenue and it is expected to exceed EGP 20m within a few days. The film, which depicts love and relationships, has achieved great success not witnessed in cinemas for a while, except for Al-Sobky productions.
The film is adapted from a celebrated story written by novelist Mohammed Sadeq. Over the course of four love stories between four couples, each belonging to a different age group, the audience is introduced to the seven stages of love that eventually lead into a healthy successful relationship. Each story presents the experience of love a person may encounter in their life, from being a little child to when they are old and grey.
The seven stages start with “The Beginning”, which is the first phase of any relationship. In this phase, the film shows that the start of a new relationship is not always sweet and nice, as it can also be the end of a previous miserable relationship.
This stage leads to the “Insanity Phase”. In this period, the audience is shown the sweetest, most romantic period of all relationships in which people go crazy for satisfying the ones they love without restraint. The third stage is “The Dream”, in which the couple start planning their life and their future together based on the love they share and imagine that life will be filled with sweet roses all the time.
The fourth stage is “The Promise”, the phase in which the couple promises that they will love and care for each other unconditionally no matter the circumstances. However, sometimes they fall short due to problems and difficulties in life. In this phase, it is stressed that not thinking rationally is a virus that can destroy the whole relationship, as emotions take over reality and logical thought.
The fifth and sixth stages, “The Reality” and “Resistance” are the truth chapters of any relationship. According to the film, in these states, couples find out that the people they fell for are humans who make mistakes and are not perfect as they once thought. As this is the most critical stage of any relationship, the effort needed to continue the relationship is doubled due to their previous high expectations. In these stages, people find themselves in the position of choosing whether to keep going or to retreat from the relationship.
Hepta, which means seven in Greek, is considered the first movie to tackle the issue of love and relationships for young people in a long while. The stunning success the film has achieved within just a few days of its release has attracted people to the reasons behind it, especially as it was released alongside many other viable contenders.
Targeting the youth demographic, who are mainly concerned with how to make their relationships work, was a hard hitting point as it was the film’s main focus. Despite the only skin-deep treatment Hepta provides for love as a cause, the easy-going, modern language managed to make the plot seem deeper as if it reached all aspects of life, not just the emotional side.
The film transports its audience to a life where there are no boundaries, no goals, and no happiness except for your partner in a successful relationship. The young man who hugs the beautiful adventurous girl when he first sees her before knowing her name, just to make sure that she’s real and not his imagination; the engaged girl who falls in love with another boy after seeing him for the first time at a group outing. These stories are the unrealistic aspect of love that managed to make audiences fall into a perfectly-crafted parallel society that does not exist in Egypt.
Casting young sweethearts like Amr Yousef, Ahmed Malek, and Yasmine El-Raes is another reason why people fell in love with the film: seeing their beloved superstars play the role of couples falling in love.
For the audience, Hepta offered an alternative drama to commonplace poor quality cinema and overly complicated plots. This film offered light, romantic entertainment.
The story from which the film is adapted has been as successful as the film. Teenage readers said Sadeq says what they’re thinking with the same casual language.
Even though the story was quite poorly written—some say that they are hard-pressed to call it a novel—it spoke to the younger generations by depicting love, sex, and unconditional freedom in a relatable way.
The film has been competing with many other strong films; however, the other films failed to reach the same popularity. Nawarah, which depicted the 25 January Revolution from a new angle, and Abl Zahmet El Sef [Before the Summer Crowds], which presented the different lives of middle-aged women. Both films stopped showing in theatres three weeks after their release with some cinemas offering extended showings of Hepta as the alternative.
The last film that touched the lives of young people was Awaat Faragh [Free times], which told the story of four college friends who are lost between their desires, frustrations, beliefs, and dreams. The film targeted a middle-aged audience by depicting their problems in a light-hearted way and was welcomed with as much love as Hepta was met with.