Two odd months in the past, Halime Sultan swooped into Pakistan, the Seljuk warrior princess turning a dominating eye in the direction of our native viewers and ensnaring it instantly.
She was the quintessential ‘Islamic’ heroine; lovely in her conventional headgear and headdress, as courageous and righteous as her hero, the notorious Ertugrul Ghazi. She was additionally a sign of what Pakistani audiences apparently wish to see.
Pakistan has been captivated with the story of Dirilis: Ertugrul ever for the reason that Turkish drama started airing on nationwide TV, dubbed in Urdu. It’s the superb pretend-Islamic story — although there’s nearly no historic proof of it being true and even its scriptwriter has admitted it’s principally made up.
It’s laced with non secular references and has lead characters which are completely holier-than-thou, valiantly vanquishing villains whereas by no means straying from the straight and slim path of all that’s blessed. It’s all a bit too good to be true, however relating to tales from historical past, it appears that evidently’s how audiences like them.
Equally, Pakistan has been smitten with Princess Halime. She presents a heady concoction: covetable but additionally meant to be revered, the proper mom, daughter and sister but additionally the love curiosity of Ertugrul, conventional in look however fairly able to combating for honour and warding off villains.
Native audiences have seen loads of overtly made-up glamour women. They have already got their fill of long-suffering pious bahus and lovelorn, wronged main women in native dramas. In distinction, Halime is exclusive. Furthermore, she appeals to widespread notions of how a ‘Muslim’ girl needs to be — nevermind that there’s completely no historic proof that she ever even existed. She shortly turned a sensation.
So has Esra Bilgic, the Turkish actress who performs the character. Esra’s tryst in Dirilis: Ertugrul resulted in 2018 however, for Pakistan — having solely simply develop into acquainted with the present — she is Halime.
Pakistanis are completely smitten with Princess Halime and Esra Bilgic, who performs the enduring character in Ertugrul: Ghazi. What does the Turkish actress make of her newfound movie star in a rustic 3,000 miles away?
Her social media following has all of a sudden boomed with an enormous inflow of Pakistani followers and, since then, the feedback part is frequented by loads of observations in Urdu. Many check with Esra as Halime, thereby passing the litmus take a look at of a personality actually being widespread, the place audiences begin calling actors by their on-screen names.
One other gauge of Esra’s immense recognition in Pakistan is how her followers don’t shrink back from education her once they really feel that she goes astray.
She is usually complimented once they suppose that she’s wanting lovely however, ought to they uncover her in risqué clothes or posing with a person aside from their beloved Ertugrul, or just residing her life the way in which any regular trendy girl would, they don’t chorus from displaying their disapproval. That’s Pakistani love for you — in its most pure, unadulterated kind.
How does Esra really feel about her newly acquired Pakistani fandom? Ever since Ertugrul unfold its wings to Pakistan and commenced breaking viewership information — typically, even outnumbering its views in its native Turkey — the drama’s forged and crew, together with Esra, have continuously reached out to their newly acquired viewers through messages on social media.
They’ve thanked their Pakistani followers for his or her appreciation and, in occasions of grief, they’ve additionally commiserated with us. As an example, lots of the forged members provided their condolences through social media when PIA flight PK8303 crashed.
Esra went the additional mile and even reached out to the household of style mannequin Zara Abid, who died within the airplane crash. Zara had as soon as complimented Esra on her Instagram feed.
After all, this consciousness about Pakistan is a consequence of the present’s continued recognition. In an unique dialog with Icon, Esra feedback, “When I saw the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Turkish news channels, saying that a successful project such as Ertugrul should be aired on their local channel, I felt surprised and proud at the same time. If we didn’t have a pandemic upon us, I would have visited Pakistan several times by now.”
Images: Omer Sedat Yenidogan @omeryndgn | Hair: Sertac Kolay @sertac_kolay @theroomhairdesign | Make-up: Hikmet Karaman
Related feedback have been made by her fellow forged members from Ertugrul. Does this imply that, as soon as the coronavirus pandemic has lastly run its course, we might be seeing a few of them in Pakistan? Within the case of Esra, at the least, the reply is within the affirmative.
“Yes, better late than never!” she confirms. “We will meet when all this is over, when I will be working with Pakistani brands. I’m sharing, for the first time, that I’m about to work with three of Pakistan’s most loved brands. This will soon be announced by the press as well.”
Which manufacturers are these? I want that I might have grilled Esra about this. Sadly, an extensively deliberate unique interview with the actress couldn’t go as deliberate, hampered by an impediment course that traversed translators, a supervisor and Esra’s busy work schedule. On this social media age, the place distances will be eradicated by a mere WhatsApp cellphone name, and regardless of my persistence, I nonetheless couldn’t talk at size with the actress.
Even the lure of an intensive interview in a Pakistani newspaper couldn’t do the trick, though it’s certain to be learn avidly by Esra’s colossal Pakistani fan following. It’s unlucky from the angle of an interviewer however even from Esra’s perspective, she might have utilised this opportunity to permit Pakistan to get to know her higher, particularly since she is planning to make her mark in our market quickly.
In our restricted communication, Esra stated that she couldn’t disclose the manufacturers’ names but however they’re three of ‘Pakistan’s most-loved’. This revelation, after all, doesn’t come as a shock. Quickly after Dirilis: Ertugrul turned profitable in Pakistan, native actors comparable to Shaan Shahid and Yasir Hussain had predicted that it was doubtless that the sequence’ forged members might be enlisted for product endorsements in Pakistan.
This might imply much less endorsements for native actors. However from manufacturers’ views and realizing the drama’s big fan following, it might probably haul in big earnings.
What’s the key to the Dirilis: Ertugrul’s success? In line with Esra, even she and her co-actors couldn’t have predicted the drama’s large recognition.
“After we first began [shooting, back in 2014], we did know that the venture would succeed and be appreciated, however the success Ertugrul acquired was past our estimates. Nobody, together with me, thought that it will develop into this big and be recognized everywhere in the world.”
She continues, “The explanation why Ertugrul discovered a lot love and assist outdoors of Anatolian lands is that the feelings that all of us expertise are the identical. After all, the entire crew labored very laborious and put of their honest efforts.”
Speaking about her enactment of Halime Sultan, her first-ever appearing function, Esra says, “I read about 13th century Anatolia when I was preparing for the character. If today I had to play Halime again, I don’t think that I would do anything differently. I’m more experienced now and my knowledge of camerawork and acting has expanded. However, I would still play Halime with the same emotions. What the script made me feel will not change in a hundred years. I feel so proud to have been able to play such a holy character.”
Wanting again over her Ertugrul days, Esra offers some fascinating insights for avid followers: “My favourite co-stars were Altan, who plays the title character of Ertugrul, Hulya, who plays Hayme Ana, and Ezgi, the actress who plays Banu Cicek. I love each one of them and I still watch our scenes from the drama.”
Does she have any explicit favorite scenes? “It is difficult to choose a single scene from 116 episodes,” she says, “but the scene in which I tell Ertugrul that I’m expecting my second child and the one in which we fight the bandits together are incredible.”
Dirilis: Ertugrul might have solely simply develop into a success in Pakistan however the sequence wrapped up in Turkey some years in the past. Life has moved onwards for the actors: Esra is now taking part in the lead function in Roma, a Turkish crime drama story, and finding out regulation on the Istanbul Metropolis College.
She additionally has an fascinating documentary venture within the works that may contain her touring to a few of Pakistan’s scenic locales.
“The essence of the documentary will be to communicate with people in villages that are hard to reach, and to photograph their lives. If they allow me, I would also like to stay with them in order to inform the whole world about their living conditions. Unless something goes against my plans, I hope to first begin working on this project within Turkey. But in the near future, you will also find me with my camera in Hunza Valley or at Lake Siaful Muluk.”
When she does handle to come back to Pakistan — one hopes that that is sooner somewhat than later — Esra Bilgic goes to make waves. Extra manufacturers are prone to wish to collaborate. TV channels and main publications are prone to name her in for interviews. It’s doubtless that she may very well be the visitor of honour at main ceremonies. A particular efficiency, even, might happen. I’d be capable to join along with her for a greater interview!
And this received’t be the primary time both that Pakistani manufacturers, occasions and media have dabbled with worldwide artists, and even Turkish actors.
Some might bear in mind an advert for Lux Cleaning soap courting again to the ’80s, that includes the Turkish actress Nazan Saatchi who, on the time, had labored in a slew of Pakistani motion pictures. And naturally, earlier than Indo-Pak relations soured, textile manufacturers continuously enlisted Bollywood actresses as model ambassadors for his or her annual garden collections. Again in 2004, the Lux Type Awards had taken place in Dubai and had additionally featured performances by Indian stars Priyanka Chopra and Sonu Nigam.
“What the script made me really feel is not going to change in 100 years. I really feel so proud to have been capable of play such a holy character.”
Now, Ertugrul’s forged might very nicely develop into a part of Pakistani markets — be a part of our homegrown occasions and collaborate with our manufacturers. Within the brief run, this may very well be a downer for our native actors. However with strategic planning, it might open up new avenues in the long term, and be the impetus wanted for native TV to enhance.
If a dubbed drama, with its roots in historical past, will be so extensively accepted, it signifies that Pakistani producers want to consider transferring away from their long-hackneyed storylines. Pakistani TV used to have historic fiction dramas within the olden days however present manufacturing homes shrink back from them, maybe due to prices.
However Ertugrul’s recognition does point out that audiences need one thing greater than borderline incestuous romances, home squabbles and senseless comedies. Producers cite excessive rankings as the rationale why they proceed to go for such scripts, however the rankings — and fan following — of Ertugrul is far greater. Level confirmed.
The incorporation of Esra and different stars from Dirilis: Ertugrul in Pakistani media might additionally, ideally, result in a cross-pollination of cultures. A few of Pakistani tv’s extra distinctive productions might additionally maybe be dubbed and aired in Turkey. Maybe, in the long term, our stars might purchase comparable in depth fan followings in Turkey and, perhaps, even model sponsorships.
The world is now a world village — furthermore, a quarantined one that’s spending extra time than ordinary watching tv. The success of Dirilis: Ertugrul — a drama with excessive manufacturing requirements, dubbed into Urdu, ascribing to widespread non secular values that Pakistan shares with Turkey, endorsed by the Prime Minister and aired on the state channel that’s accessible all throughout the far reaches of the nation — was solely inevitable.
And we had been certain to fall in love with Halime, the warrior princess, valiant and true to the purpose of perfection. Esra Bilgic is Pakistan’s favorite sweetheart proper now and, when she does come to Pakistan, the thrill goes to skyrocket.
You’ll learn extra in depth interviews, see extra footage and, lo and behold, loads of selfies with the actress are going to filter out on Instagram. Like I stated, we’re smitten.
Initially printed in Daybreak, ICON, June 28th, 2020