Have you had to give up ownership of the TV remote at 7.30pm and 10pm on all weekdays including Saturdays? Does the name “Sultan Suleiman” cause creases to form on your forehead and you ask yourself what the fuss is all about? While the youth have ridiculed “Sultan Suleiman” as the “Game of Thrones” for stay-at-home moms, it is unfair to compare the Turkish daily soap depicting the rule of the longest reigning Ottoman emperor, to the era-defining masterpiece. Sultan Suleiman brings in a fresh splash of vivacity to a local network plagued with substandard serials. Let’s take an in-depth look into how this one series has endeared a wide range of audiences, yet has drawn dismissal from other segments.

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The story revolves around The Sultan and the struggle for power between his Sultanas, Hurrem and Mahidevran. While Bengali and Hindi serials lack character development, the conniving Hurrem Sultan,  the vindictive Mahidevran, and the Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pasha ingeniously conspire to consolidate power which exudes intellect. The growth of the charming Prince Mustapha, from a frivolous youth to a stately leader, has enabled viewers to relate better with the character. The servants Sumbul and Nigar play pivotal roles in the exeucting the show’s many plot twists.

Unlike most local shows with monotonous, illogical plots which are stretched over 2 weeks, “Sultan Suleiman” has a compact and engaging array of sub-plots which combine to form an overarching, riveting storyline. The cut throat rivalry between Hurrem and Mahidevran is awe-inspiring. The blood-chilling assassinations to exert dominance and the gruesome betrayals to serve intents of malice have been portrayed to perfection.

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The unconditional love of Hurrem for Suleiman, the romantic entanglements of Prince Mustapha and the infidelity of Pasha’s vows to Hetize all blend into an intoxicating concoction of love and hate. The events are unpredictable and fast-paced, thus makes viewers anxiously anticipate the next episode, which is non-existent in the slow moving Hindi and Bangla serials.

But beyond the vivid encapsulation of the animosity, , lust and desire for power in 16th Century Ottoman empire, the set and costume designs are exemplary. The magnificent gowns of Hurrem Sultan and Mahidevran, the glamourous tunics of Sultan Suleiman and Shehzada Mustapha and the crowns and decorated hats, all appeal to the aesthetic demands of the viewers who feel enamoured by the beauty of the presentation (and the actors).

The horrendous quality of the initial dubbing has been gradually improving over the seasons

However, the most outstanding feature of “Sultan Suleiman” lies in its post-production finesse. The horrendous quality of the initial dubbing has been gradually improving over the seasons. For audiences vexed by the poor quality of audio and video editing, the lackluster change of frames and the absence of dubbing which renders dialogues indecipherable in domestic serials, Sultan Suleiman brings a welcome change.

From the vitriolic reactions, following the Grand Vizier’s ghastly execution, that swept the nation it is easy to discern the mass’s obsession with the show. It has returned viewers to local channels and ended the drought caused by Indian dramas. Love ‘em or hate em – the Ottomans are here to stay.

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by Ishmamul Hawk