JEDDAH: Netflix movie “Naga” blends tradition, bravery and vulnerability in a unique narrative — and its lead star, Saudi actress Adwa Bader, spoke to Arab News about why it is a “universal tale.”
Directed by Meshal Aljaser, the film follows Sarah (Bader), who sneaks out on a date and hopes to return before her curfew. What begins as a quiet drive in the desert soon spirals into an adventure involving an underground party, a broken-down car and a vindictive camel. With nothing to rely on but her wits, she must escape a series of bizarre situations to meet her father before the clock strikes 10.
The Netflix Original production premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and screened at the recent Red Sea International Film Festival in Jeddah before it hit Netflix on Dec. 7.
Bader shared insights on her preparation for the role, saying: “Meshal and I rehearsed a lot, going over the script and merging our perspectives on Sarah. It was a collaborative effort.”
The actress added audience reaction so far had been gratifying.
“What was so rewarding about Sarah was seeing how people relate to the story, because it’s such a universal tale. It’s just a day that turned really bad. I understand her, I have so much love for her. I wish her well. I feel we can all relate to the feminine rage to an extent,” she said.
The protagonist’s character arc is another element that drew the actress to the role, which landed her a spot in the TIFF 2023 Rising Stars program for outstanding lead performance. She also scored the TIFF Share Her Journey fellowship and award.
“I think what’s really interesting is that she’s a product of her environment. She was really passive in the beginning and her environment forced her to react and respond and really express herself. I think Meshal’s perspective is that Sarah is an independent, strong-willed and resilient character and I agree with that,” Bader said.
Meanwhile, Aljaser told Arab News it was a conscious decision to create an off-kilter film.
“You don’t have to see a reference of success and think that is the only way to succeed — you can succeed in so many different styles,” he said.