Ertugrul: Inspiring, educational entertainment


By Sahibzada Jahangir

Mr Pervez Hoodbhoy called TV Dirilis series “Dangerous Delusions” forgetting and ignoring the fact that Ertugrul, is a Turkish fictional drama, based on 13th Century Turkish history and centers around the life of Ertugul, father of Osman 1, who was the founder of the Ottomon Empire – a period of history, which all Muslims can be proud of.

Having recently been released in Pakistan and dubbed in Urdu, it has attracted viewership of 5.5 million people and caused quite a storm.

If anything shows us that how disunited the Muslims are now, as they have been in history, look no further than the debate this drama is generating.

Ertugrul is a nightmare for the Liberal elites, who wish to morph themselves into Western culture.

Being a lefty should represent a person who is open-minded with a social conscience and scientifically and academically progressive. Unfortunately, the term Left has taken on more sinister characteristics, coming to represent a person who is intolerant and terrified of anything which leads to the Almighty.

It has also caused an objection amongst those who have political allegiances against Imran Khan, for the petty reason, that Imran Khan recommended that the Pakistanis could benefit from watching Ertugrul, and it certainly has enough episodes to keep one safely tucked at home during lockdown.

So now we know the agendas of those who object to the state run PTV airing a Turkish drama; let’s consider whether there is any merit to these objections.

Ertugrul, without doubt is fantastically well made and grips the audience, even those who switched it on to see an episode or two, to see what all the fuss was about. It’s been named the Islamic Game of Thrones.

So, I assume the criticism is not about the production, direction or the acting.

Let’s delve deeper into content. The dialogues, each and every one, deliver such beautiful meanings. They educate and entice.

Then there is the hysterical paranoia that we will adopt Turkish culture when we should be promoting our own. For years, we have been watching American and British films. Has that destroyed Pakistani culture? Honestly, it may well have infiltrated its way into the elites of Pakistan, but not the majority of the common people.

What message is Ertugrul portraying? It shows that with unity and sincerity, with faith and belief, one can overcome evil and adversity. It depicts respect for elders. It shows what humility and good manners are. It shows how one treats guests, and hospitality.

But for some, respect, humility, hospitality, fearless courage, are all rather old fashioned and out of sync with the lifestyles they wish to lead. There is naturally fear and suspicion, that it may re-introduce golden values of the past. If only the masses could be so easily influenced towards all that is good.

There is fighting and there are wars, just as there have been in history and continue to be, but for a change, the narrative is different, and it is not the Muslims who are depicted as evil and barbaric.

The actors and actresses who have said that Pakistan must fund its own industry, need to rise to the challenge and stop producing the dated dramas of mother-in-law/daughter-in-law disputes, or a husband getting entangled with another woman and taking a second wife or a cheating wife. What message have any of these dramas taught Pakistanis? How have they educated them?

If Pakistan wishes to compete, then change the script.

I feel proud that Pakistan aired this drama, unlike other Muslim countries, who cowered under super powers and political designs.

Ertugrul was never meant to be completely factual. It would be called a documentary then, Mr Hoodbhoy. It is exactly how it is described: a fictional drama set in a historical context.

So, I recommend that you watch Ertugrul and enjoy it for its entertainment and learn from its etiquettes and manners, and revive unity amongst the Muslims. I fear that may just be a hopeful dream.

(The writer is the spokesperson for the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Trade & Investment in UK & Europe.)