After the success of Ishq-e-Mamnoon – Ask-? Memnu in Turkish – Fatmagul – Fatmagul’un Sucu Ne? – Mera Sultan – Muhtesem Yuzyil, that is, “The Magnificent Century” – Pakistanis have seen another Turkish drama hit their TV screens: Ek Pyar Kahani, known to Turkish viewers as Bir Ask Hikayesi.
Adapted from the South Korean drama, Mianhada Saranghanda – translated as “I’m sorry, I love you” – Bir Ask Hikayesi centres around a young man named Korkut Ali (Gohar Ali in the Urdu version) played by Turkish actor, Seckin Ozdemir. Korkut has led a very unfortunate life: he was left at the doorstep of an orphanage by his parents in Istanbul, adopted and abandoned again by his foster parents, readopted by another couple who lost their lives in a road accident after moving to Germany. Since then, the young boy had been on his own, living on the streets of Stuttgart and turning to crime to make himself a living.
After his long-term girlfriend, Asli (Ashley, in the Urdu version) dumps him in favour of a rich businessman, Yilmaz, who was like his elder brother, Korkut is heartbroken. On their wedding day, a shooter attempts to kill Yilmaz, but accidentally two bullets catch Korkut, instead. Both bullets are caught inside his brain; while doctors manage to remove one bullet easily, the other one is not removed because the risk was too high. Because of the bullet, Korkut is predicted to die soon. With no other purpose left in his life, Korkut leaves Stuttgart for his native Istanbul, and vows to find his mother – not to find comfort and love in the last days of his life, but to seek revenge.
When Korkut arrives in Istanbul, he, with the help of a TV program, manages to find part of his family: his twin sister, her son and their caregiver. Korkut’s twin sister, Emine (Amna), played by Gunes Sayin, suffered an accident at a young age, after which she became mentally unstable. She and her son, Umut (Umar) – played by child actor Taha Yusuf Tan – sell snacks on the street to make themselves a living. The dismal state of his sister’s life fuels Korkut’s desire for revenge even more.
Meanwhile in another, more prosperous quarter of Istanbul, a famous singer, Gonul Karanli (Gulnar in the Urdu version) – played by the famous Turkish singer, Zuhal Olcay – and her son Tolga – played by Yamac Telli – are living the life of dreams. Popular around Turkey, Gonul and Tolga are treated like stars everywhere, and seem to have the perfect life – but they, too, have some deep and dark secrets that, despite their attempts, could not stay buried for too long. In a quarter abutting their expansive home, lives Gonul’s trusted driver, Tahsin – played by Ayberk Pekcan – and his family, including his eldest daughter, Ceylan – played by seasoned Turkish actress Damla Sonmez – who is also the heroine of the story.
Soon all three of these stories become tightly intertwined with only one common denominator: Korkut Ali.
Why watch it: the Atmosphere, the Direction and the Acting
With a clichéd title and a fairly run of the mill story, Ek Pyar Kahani, on paper, can easily be dismissed as just another emotional thriller with nothing special to offer. However, when watched on the TV screen, the experience becomes much more unique – especially for Pakistani audiences.
Turkish dramas – like Turkish culture – have something completely unique to offer. They are not completely divorced from our lifestyles like most Western TV shows are, nor are they so utterly drenched in South Asian family politics – like Pakistani and Indian dramas – that they suffocate you with their pessimism. They are somewhere in between: an amalgamation of the west and the east, with their short skirts and their Allah Allahs. Bir Ask Hikayesi is no different: it gives you the perfect taste of Turkish culture.
Furthermore, all of the actors in the drama perform their roles almost to perfection; the credit for this goes both to the casting team and to the actors, themselves. Seckin Ozdemir’s performance as the Byronic hero, Korkut, is well-rounded, with his dialogue delivery, mannerisms as well as his expressions appearing to be tailored to fit the role. The usually glamorous Damla Sonmez has done a really good job to portray a laid back, plain-looking middle class girl, who has many dimensions to her personality. Zuhal Olcay is effortlessly perfect as Gonul Karanli, complete with all the role’s imperfections. But the highlight of the show, perhaps, after Seckin Ozdemir, is the performance of Gunes Sayin as the mentally-unstable yet adorably innocent Emine. It is also interesting to note that the show has more actresses in important roles, than actors, and, as a whole, the actresses deliver more memorable performances than their male counterparts.
There is certainly a lot that Pakistani drama producers, directors, writers, actors and actresses can learn from their Turkish peers – on so many different levels.