It is very rare to see the state head of a state to cheer for a television show or a movie. Imran Khan became the fan of Turkish television show Diriliş: Ertuğrul and he recommended nation to watch this show as this show is the depiction of Islamic history. Since then. Pakistani people are gripped in its fever and it has become a talking point among critics and fans.
Prime minister ordered Pakistan national broadcaster to dub in in Urdu to make in accessible for a wider audience. It became instantly popular when it aired with Urdu translation on the first day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and it only continues to get bigger. It has shattered records that were previously held by biggest blockbuster Pakistani drams.
Dirilis: Ertugrul is a big-budget adventurous television series that depicts the prehistory of the Ottoman Empire. It is based on the life of the 13th-century Muslim Oghuz Turk leader, who was the father of Osman I, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. Some people also call it the ‘Turkish Game of Thrones’ because it also a historic show based on the fights. Just like The Game of Thrones, this television series also has special effects to fascinate the audience.
Back in 2013, the craze for Turkish soaps was evident in Pakistan, following the sensational success of Ishq-e-Memnun. It created a much stronger uproar by Pakistani celebrities and producers that eventually led to restrictions being placed on foreign television shows on local channels. This time Turkish content is back with Diriliş: Ertuğrul and that to with the support of the Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Diriliş: Ertuğrul is aired on the state-run channel with the title Ertugrul Gazi. It is also being simultaneously streamed on YouTube where it has been trending at the top. Its first episode has more than twenty million views that is a record in Pakistan. It has become a culture in Pakistan that a trending thing sparks internet debate and people start making memes for the sake of fun. Pakistani fans are becoming so much attached to the show that they are getting upset that the actors in the show are not as Islamic in real life as they would like them to be.
Comments on the actors’ Instagram pages have seen Pakistani fans show rage that some of the female stars wear non-conservative dresses and that one actor is seen petting his dog. Having said that, it is a part and parcel of the phenomenon. On the one hand, Pakistani fans are exposed to Islamic history, on the other they are exposed to the culture of modern-day, urban, secular Turkey.
The success of this show should be a wakeup call for our Pakistani media industry to up their game and serve such content to the audience that is very beyond the never-ending family sagas. If is one more thing that Ertuğrul Ghazi’s success proves is that conceptually rich shows, be that about history or other diverse themes, if executed properly, have the potential to become a huge success.
by: Abeer Arshad