I’ve been looking at the debate around Ertugrul and the culture wars it’s generated and I have a few thoughts about them, which I decided to put down. So, thread... 👉🏾
The current frenzy over Ertugrul reminds me of when foreign dubbed dramas first began airing on Pak TV channels. We all know about the Turkish Ishq-e-Mamnoon. But there were a couple of Latin American serials that also began airing at around the same time, I forget their names.
I didn’t watch dramas much (I hardly do still) but I did want to know what people were watching and why. At the time, we had a couple of live-in nannies (sisters) who were big on dramas. They were my main source of information on what was going on in the field, what they liked..>
...and what they didn’t. So one day I walk in from work and they are glued as usual to the TV. I ask them what they’re watching and they tell me ‘Bhai koyi naye Arabi dramay aa rahay hain.’ I’m intrigued so I stop to watch for a bit. Now, it must be recalled that before...>
...these dramas came on, most pundits had declared that dubbed dramas would simply not work in Pakistan, bec of the whole issue of lip sync /cultural differences etc. (In fact, one story I heard later was that one media head had been offered the Turkish serial which later ran...>
...as Mera Sultan on Geo, at a ridiculous throwaway price years earlier. But his marketing people dissuaded him from buying it bec they told him a dubbed show just would not work.)

In any case, I’m standing there watching the ‘Arabic serial’ with my office bag still in my ...>
...hand, and it soon becomes apparent to me that what we’re watching is no Arab production. It’s got blonde goris in miniskirts and plunging necklines (blurred out by the channel) and a bunch of other culturally specific things that make it obvious it’s a Latin American...>
...soap. So I tell the sisters that this is no Arab drama, that it’s from South America though I can’t place from which country, perhaps Mexico, perhaps Venezuela, I don’t know.

The reaction of one of the sisters to this news has stayed with me all these years. With a look...>
...of confusion, she asks me: ‘Bhai, woh bhi Urdu boltay hain??’

For a while I did not know what to say. 😐

Consider, what all this question implied:
1) That the dubbing/ lip sync being out made absolutely no diff to her (so much for technical finesse being important to the...>
...average TV drama viewer.)
2. She assumed Arabs could speak Urdu, prob bec ‘Woh tau apnay hain, Mussalmaan hain’)
3. All Muslims can speak Urdu
4. If someone spoke Urdu on TV, it did not matter whether they looked very different (a point borne out by the success of Korean...>
...dramas later.)

So, to take nothing away from the wild popularity of Ertugrul in Pak, the reality of the matter is it tells you more about Pakistan - suppressed desires, confusion, megalomania and simultaneously its paranoia - than Turkish history or its production values.
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