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|Born||Paula Mohamed Mostafa Shafiq
January 3, 1938
Adel El Bashary
Nadia Lutfi (Arabic: نادية لطفي, born Paula Mohamed Mostafa Shafiq in 1938, in Sohag), the daughter of an Egyptian father who was an accountant and a Polish mother, was one of the most popular actresses during the final phase of Egyptian cinema's "Golden Age".
Life and career
Acting for Nadia started as a hobby; when she was 10 years old she participated in a play at her school and did very well. When the 20-year-old was about to make her screen debut in 1958, Omar Sharif was the reigning king of the Arab cinema, and his wife, Faten Hamama, its queen. The star couple had just had a smash hit with the film La Anam with Hamama as "Nadia Lotfy", a willful teen who destroys her father's marriage. Young Paula appropriated the name.
With her fresh new name, the young actress took her first role in a modest, black & white drama, Soultan. Her second picture was a smaller role in one of the film landmarks of its time, Cairo Station, the film that brought filmmaker Youssef Chahine to international attention and acclaim when it played in competition at the Berlin Film Festival.
Lutfi's career progressed, and it soon became clear how her fans wanted to see her; primarily in light melodramas with a few sprightly musical interludes, à la 1962's al Khataya, with Nadia as a hopeful bride, rejected by her fiancé's father.
But there were a few exceptional films as well. In 1963, she played a Frankish woman warrior of the Crusade era, donning full armor to go into battle against her Christian-Arab lover, in Naser Salah el Dine (occasionally shown on US TV as Saladin and the Great Crusades). In 1964's Lil-Rigal Faqat, or For Men Only, Lutfi and co-star Su'ad Husni played women geologists who, denied employment, respond by disguising themselves as men and going to work, where they find they have to suppress their romantic natures to sustain the disguise.
In the mid-1960s, Lutfi starred in two films that were based on stories by Nobel-winning author Naguib Mahfouz, just a few years following the publication of his widely-banned novel of Moses, Jesus and Mohammed, Children of Gebelawi. Lutfi finished the decade starring in 1969's Abi foq al-Shagara, or My Father Atop a Tree, as a night club dancer who beds a much younger man, then discovers that she once knew his father equally well.
In the 1970s, Lutfi's career quickly wound down as Egypt's "Golden Age" for films came to a close, due to increasing competition from East and West, the growth of home video, and increasing costs for the film industry. Having made close to 50 films in the first 11 years of her career, she only made three in the decade that followed, and has not worked in film since 1981.
Early in 2004, Lutfi interceded with the press on behalf of her long-time friend, Omar Sharif, who had rashly told the Arab press that he would allow his grandchildren, one of whom is Jewish, to choose their own religions as they mature. In 2006, Lutfi returned to the spotlight when a video by young Lebanese singer Nourhanne recreated a musical scene from one of her first films, Bain al Qasrayn.
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