The television channel Zindagi discontinued Pakistani shows in September 2016 after Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s speech at the United Nations, in which he mounted a sharp attack against India, especially with reference to Kashmir. Subhash Chandra, the chairperson of the Zee network, which broadcasts Zindagi, tweeted, “Unfortunate stance of Mia Sharif at UN. Zee is considering stopping Zindgi programs from Pak, as well artists from there should leave.”
Zindagi is best known for introducing Indian audiences to perhaps the most famous cine import from across the border – Fawad Khan. With the actor’s shows Zindagi Gulzar Hai and Humsafar now off air, where should Indian audiences look to get their exotic hotness quotient? One option is to start following the Turkish TV dramas that have replaced their Pakistani counterparts. In its new avatar, Zindagi is focussing primarily on domestic and Turkish content in its programming. For those looking for a binge-watching opportunity, Netflix too has a decent selection of Turkish soaps.
Who are the Turkish male stars to keep an eye out for? Scroll.in highlights a few.
The former model and actor is often dubbed the Turkish Brad Pitt by journalists looking for easy shorthand to explain the actor’s massive female fan base. Tatlıtuğ is probably one of Turkey’s most famous stars as a result of his role in the extremely popular drama Aşk-ı Memnu (Forbidden Love), which was largely responsible for Turkish soaps becoming something of a global phenomenon.
Aşk-ı Memnu is only available to viewers in India on YouTube, but Tatlıtuğ does also star in the TV show Kuzey Güney (North South), about two brothers in love with the same woman.
He has made a career as a romantic lead in Turkish soaps, and his first break was Fatmagul, which airs on Zindagi. The drama tells the story of Fatmagul, a woman who lives in an idyllic Agean small town and is raped by a group of men who are under the influence of drugs. Akyürek plays the role of gang member Kerim, a local boy caught up in the friendship of elite out-of-town Istanbul residents. Kerim is forced into taking the blame for the crime and marries Fatmagul in that icky, patriarchal way that one does. The story develops with Kerim – of course! – falling in love with Fatmagul. It says something for Akyürek and the female lead Beren Saat’s acting talents that they manage to sell this version of romance.
Not your run-of-the-mill eye candy, Ergenç is an incredibly arresting and charismatic presence on screen. On Netflix, he can be seen in Muhteşem Yüzyıl, The Magnificent Century, and 1001 Nights. It’s his role as Sultan Suleyman in Muhteşem Yüzyıl that is worth the investment of time demanded by Turkish soaps, which have an average running time of two hours. Add to the fact that this trained opera singer is also a bit of a political activist – in 2013, he joined the anti-government protests in Gezi Park, wearing a Bob Marley T-shirt and a surgical mask to protect against tear gas. What’s not to like?
In the Netflix period romantic drama Çalıkuşu, Özçivit plays the romantic lead Kamran, a doctor in the late Ottoman Empire who falls in love with his orphaned cousin. It’s fair to say that Özçivit works the moustachioed Ottoman gentleman look better than anyone has any right to. Keeping the Ottoman theme going, Özçivit also plays the role of the Ottoman commander Balı Bey in the TV show Muhteşem Yüzyıl, so there’s plenty of potential television watching to keep the fan-girls occupied.