Baghdad Central: Tawfeek Barhom

Baghdad Central: Interview with Tawfeek Barhom: Amjad

Category: Interview, Press Pack Article

Who is Amjad?

I was thinking about Amjad’s background a lot and quickly came to realise he was once just a normal person living a normal life, going to school and trying to be a good kid. The Amjad we see in the show is the result of: good soul, bad luck, wrong time, wrong place. That was all thrust upon him. He was living his life, then his norms were disrupted and that leads him to some places, good or bad, where he has to take some action. And he does that.

What changes him?

It’s partly the invasion and partly personal stuff like his close friends being affected by the war. If you’re a young man at school, those years when you’re forming ideas and opinions, then all of a sudden everything changes, that changes you.

Is Amjad sceptical about the coalition?

He’s sceptical at first, because only months ago he never had to think about any of this, then he had to take sides quickly. There’s no time to sit down and research. So he acts automatically and instinctively.

What’s his ultimate goal?

I don’t think he’s thought it through. In the back of his head, his aim is to be Amjad again, an engineer working on his craft and sitting with his friends. He’s a young man, he wants things to happen fast but he’s really naive.

I’m Palestinian so I know a lot about struggle and oppression. I was doing some research a few years ago and wanted to meet with people who tried to be suicide bombers, to understand how a human being can get to that point. In the end I understood that it’s just one thing leading to another. Nobody wakes up and thinks: I’m going to kill you. Amjad is a victim of circumstances.

What excites you about this project?

I’ve been working in this business for 10 years and a lot of shows let you play an Arab for the sake of “being an Arab”. Baghdad Central allows you to see the characters as they are, for good or ill. The show is entertaining as hell, while putting the truth in your face and slapping you with facts you maybe didn’t know were there. It’ll stir up a really heated dialogue.

As a story of occupation, does Baghdad Central speak to you?

It does, yeah. I got out of Israel just to not hear about any of all that again. I want to be a normal human being there, but that doesn’t happen. As a Palestinian everyone speaks to you through that filter. I put on a mask of being polite whenever I’m outside my door. It’s some kind of a therapy to be doing this show; not choosing sides but looking at something objectively. I feel we’re created something unique here. I love the cast. I’ve worked with Maisa [Abd Elhadi] a lot, and Waleed [Zuaiter] is an idol for me, the producer of one of the best Palestinian films ever made in Omar (2013). This show has brought brilliant actors to even the tiny roles.