As it ramps up original productions, Middle Eastern broadcaster MBC is launching lavish 1980s-set Arabic crime drama ‘Rashash,’ created by Britain’s Tony Jordan (“EastEnders”) and touted as its most ambitious Saudi series to date.
Directed by another Brit, Collin Teague, whose credits include “Doctor Who,” “Rashash” is based on the true story of a Saudi Arabian drug trafficker convicted of murder and other crimes after being caught by the police in Saudi Arabia in the late 1980s, according to promotional materials.
The eight-part “Rashash” series will drop Jan. 21 on MBC’s Shahid VIP — the rapidly growing revamped streaming service that was launched a year ago and has gone from 100,000 subscribers in January 2020 to more than 1 million paying customers, MBC claims.
Another Arabic crime series created by Tony Jordan, “Blood Oath,” co-produced by MBC with Lebanon-based Eagle Films, which is an Arabic adaptation of Jordan’s thriller series “Besa,” originally produced in Serbia in 2018 by Adrenalin, debuted on Shahid VIP in February 2020.
“Rashash” is being touted as groundbreaking for Saudi Arabia in terms of its criminal subject matter and the fact that it draws on “exclusive tales from the archives of the intense and long-running criminal investigation from the late 1980s,” according to a statement.
In another first, the show — partly shot in Abu Dhabi with support from local media hub twofour54 — features an all-Saudi cast in the lead roles. The actors underwent special weapons training prior to filming, trained by special armourers flown in from India, the statement said.
Boasting an unspecified “multi-million dollar” budget, “Rashash” is also heralded as the most lavish Saudi original made by Saudi-owned MBC.
The MBC statement played up the high-production values provided to the show by British cinematographer Luke Bryant (“I Hate Suzie,” “The Reckoning”) who set up “three full days of helicopter scenes” and made ample use of high-speed cameras, drones and Steadicams. The stunts were choreographed by Bulgarian stunt director Kaloyan Vodenicharov (“World War Z”, “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”).
MBC, which recently underwent a management shakeup, has underlined its mission of keeping pace with the media agenda of the Saudi Kingdom’s Vision 2030, which is the package of economic and social policies designed to free Saudi from dependence on an oil-based economy.