Recently, a meme has gone viral on the internet. The meme reads “Game of Thrones for sons, Sultan Suleiman for ammus." Apparently, this meme resonates with the true picture of reality as Sultan Suleiman, a Turkish TV show dubbed in Bangla, has successfully been able to bring the interest of large, family audiences, most of whom were previously more inclined towards Indian daily soaps, back to local TV channels.
Though the context of Deepto TV's historical drama differs from HBO's hit fantasy Game of Thrones (GoT), the hype generated by the saga on the longest-reigning Great Sultan of the Ottoman Empire is quite new here. It's also quite different from what people experienced in the last two decades of Bangladeshi TV.
Over the last few years, people have used the medium of television to find respite from reality. It is a mode for relaxation as well as a way to delve into the world of fantasies. To cater to that need, historical dramas have certainly played massive roles. Proof? Shows like Alif Laila, Sindbad and Robin Hood that were broadcast on BTV (dubbed in Bangla), were extremely popular, making them favourites among many in Bangladesh, across social-economic spectrums.
Within two months of its inception, Sultan Suleiman has reached its peak as far as TV programs ratings are considered, according to Television Rating Points.
On attempting to find out what people love about this show, it was quite sanguine considering Bangladeshi TV's recent fall with viewers. Romeo Rafi, a Sultan Suleiman fan mentioned it is the storyline which got him hooked to the TV show. “The show's mindblowing storyline will give you space to think about it later when you are not even watching the show,” he said.
The next interesting thing about the series is probably the glamour and glitz - something hardly found on local TV. Ijaj Mehboob, another avid fan, compared its glamour to GoT saying, “I'm a Game of Thrones fan and I freaking love this show. The ladies of the House are so damn pretty and beguiling.”
“For some reason, programs like this appeal to people. Historical pieces like Alif Laila were hugely successful. Audiences have a certain attraction towards Sultan SuleIman, maybe because of the era or because they want to know what happened to Muslims in the Ottoman empire. There is also romance, intrigue and action – all of these make it a good drama,” says Qazi Urfi Ahmad, the chief operating officer of Deepto TV.
“People get hooked to the TV set if they see pretty people and Sultan SuleIman has that appeal. I have even read one comment on Facebook that one fan began studying the Ottoman empire after he started watching the show,” Urfi told the Dhaka Tribune.
Some other viewers have also voiced their distaste for the show's dubbing. Regarding this, the production team revealed that there were several challenges when translating the original Turkish script to Bangla to set up a team of voice artists for the production. Jill Anjuman, another fan, said, “This show is actually quite good if you ignore the terrible dubbing.”
Written by Meral Okay and Yılmaz Şahin, the Turkish historical fiction television is based on the life of Ottoman Sultan Süleiman the Magnificent, the longest reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and his wife Hürrem Sultan, a slave girl who became Sultana. It was originally broadcast on Show TV and then transferred to Star TV.