The hype of Turkish-periodical series “Dirilis: Ertugrul” is truly justified. This project began for the restoration of Turkish nation’s emotions towards once hailed Ottoman Empire. Eventually the drama spread across the borders in approximately 60 countries of the world. The story is about historical warriors of the Kayi Tribe whose descendants later become the founders of the Empire. This series have the power to grasp the attention of a diverse audience. Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, emphasized the significance and the Urdu dubbing of the show. Consequently, in Pakistan, its first episode was shown on first of Ramazan, 2020 via country’s national television channel; PTV HOME. Since the beginning our infatuation with our television boxes increases every night when the clock strikes 8 o’clock.
WHAT DOES DIRILIS MEAN?
The word dirilis is translated as resurrection which means to rise after death. I take the dramatic name in the essence of a holy knight rising again for the preservation of Muslim faith. Similarly, the clan of the warrior symbolizes unity, brotherhood and passion to promote The Ultimate Message.
WHO WAS ERTUGRUL?
Ertugrul Gazi was a brave and just fighter from a branch of tribes spreading down from Oghuz Turks. He was the son of Suleyman Shah and Hayma Ana, husband to Halima Sultan and father of Osman I of the great empire. He waged wars against trouble mongering Crusaders, Mongols and also dealt tactfully against internal conflicts. Conclusively, Ertugrul knew how to obey, love, combat and pray because he was an amalgamation of kindness and wisdom.
HOW WAS THIS PROJECT INITIATED?
Ibrahim Eren, Chairman and Director of the Turkish Radio & Television Corporation (TRT), launched Turkey’s arts and culture channel in 2014. He had initiated the idea to create a historical drama for Turks with the pure intention to rejuvenate their nervous connections with the glory of their forefathers. Therefore he approached Mehmet Bozdag, screenwriter and producer of the drama whose expertise lied in the political history of Europe from the age of 13th century.
WHAT WAS THE PREPARATION PERIOD LIKE?
Mr. Bozdag told in an interview that a Mongolian illustrator was hired to create a detailed visual world based on his script and as a result of that the team further built the whole atmosphere for the shooting. Kazakh and Kyrgyz craftsmen played a befitting role by training the actors in archery and horse riding. Additionally, Metin Gunay, director of the project shared his vision of work as that Turkey had never seen a historical project as extensive as this one; therefore, the start of the drama is from the very beginning. They created a team of informed, equipped and experienced people who were found quite skillful.
WHO GAVE MUSIC TO THE SENSATIONAL THEME SONG?
It was the talent and dedication of Zeynep Alasya and Alpay Goktekin put into the composition of the thrilling theme song. My favorite stanza is translated as, “Do not have mercy on traitors of your country, traitors are in disguise as your companions, our nation has suffered a lot, but the Sun will rise”. Which one’s yours?
HOW DID THE SHOW GET FAMOUS?
The drama was channeled at TRT (launched by Ibrahim Eren) in December, 2014 and a spike was observed in its ratings. Number of views went high by several degrees not only in Turkey but Arabic-speaking audience had also drawn great attention. Meanwhile, Arab broadcasters bought the series’ rights whereas it was also launched by Netflix in the same year of production (2014). A ginormous amount of Muslim population fell in awe whereas people from different ethnic backgrounds. Masses belonging to Hinduism and Christianity have also loved the story of a holy warrior. Moreover, social media was the fuel to fire and in the blink of an eye more than 700 million people from across Europe, Middle East, Central Asia, Africa as well as U.S were being entertained by the story.
My research for this article shows that apart from charming horsemen, strong women, perfectly-cinematic action and the clarity in which the history is revealed before us, the fans of the show have taken it to peaks of fame. For example, celebrities and political figures have flashed light onto the brilliance of the show. Additionally, a man named Sajjad-ur-Rehman has opened a themed café “Bey’s Diner” in Birmingham, UK with decorations such as bows, arrows, swords, hats and rugs imported from Turkey and Germany.
I must also appreciate the affection from non-biased audience of different religious holdings towards this drama as their contribution articulates honest fandom. That is to say, this charismatic drama touches hearts of all ages with its presentation of simple family systems, moral values, clean romance and mechanisms of defense against oppressors.
HOW ARE SOUND EFFECTS ADDED?
Ali Oren, a Turkish-foley artist learnt the art of creating sounds from ordinary objects. This art was passed onto him by his father and his studio was Ali’s school. Likewise, for this drama he created amazing sword clashing sounds, horse galloping sounds, door knocking sounds etc. in the most casual ways. See the video for yourself.
WHERE WAS THE DRAMA SHOT IN TURKEY?
Five seasons were shot at different locations in Turkey; Beykoz District, Riva village, Nevsehir and Istanbul. For the first two seasons, locations were Beykoz and Riva where 2 plateaus were established. Firstly, the plateau of Riva was built on 40,000-meter square in addition to 35 tents, 12 shops and 1 rug market.
Secondly, Aleppo palace, supply room, guest rooms, corridors, dungeons, Karatoygazi palace, Seljuk Pavilion and tent interiors were manufactured in Beykoz Kundura Plant that was a 6000-meter square closed area. On the other hand, Aleppo bazar, Suleyman’s Shah internal tent, more dungeons, corridors and worship of the Templars were built on the 5000-meter square open area of the same plateau.
HISTORICAL FACTS ABOUT THE PROJECT:
- Historical accounts that mention the events from Ertugrul’s life only amount to 7 pages of sources.
- These sources are kept in Turkish Archives, within Ibn Arabi’s chronologies, in Western archives about Templars and in Byzantine’s chronologies.
- Ertugrul was probably born in 1188 in the city of Ahlat, Turkey.
- He passed away in the year 1281 at the age of 93 years.
- He only possessed 400 tents.
- His brother Dundar Bey followed his journey and together they settled in Sogut.
- Halima Sultan gave birth to Osman I at the age of 67 in reality. It seemed completely miraculous!
- Last years of his life were spent quietly by Ertugrul in Sogut.
- After that, Turgut Alp outlived Ertugrul Gazi by 36 years (approximately).
- Turgut remained a loyal fellow of Osman I in his reign.
TECHNICAL FACTS ABOUT THE PROJECT:
- A company called “Nomad” designed action scenes in the drama who have also worked on Hollywood projects. For instance, their work includes 47 Ronin, Conan the Barbarian and The Expendables 2.
- A horse farm in Riva serves as the place for all 25 horses used, they are looked after by a veterinarian.
Ertugrul along some of his companions was buried in Sogut, Turkey. This town was almost unknown before the fame explosion of Dirilis: Ertugrul series. Now, more than 4000 tourists visit Sogut every month from all parts of the world. Most importantly, some people from among the remaining brothers of Ertugrul and other men died along their journey to this city. Contrary to this, some of them dispersed to settle in Bursa, Turkey. However, a few honorary graves were dug besides Ertugrul’s tomb such as of Turgut Alp. In addition to it, two other tourist attraction spots of this city are Sogut Ertugrul Gazi Museum and Kuyulu Mescidis mosque built by Ertugrul Gazi.
GOVERNMENT’S INTEREST IN THE PROJECT:
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan took keen interest in the development of this series. He specifically took a tour of the shooting location to interact with actors and teams on set. It was a moment of pride and happiness for all as seen in the following video.
The drama gives the opportunity for parents and children to bond over a common interest. Children are learning about heroes that existed in reality rather than fictional-characters such as superman and batman. On a similar note, the simplistic lifestyle, concept of nationhood as well as characterization of equipped men and women beautifully portrays old and true traditions of Islamic civilizations. Although, keeping all the criticism in consideration from countries such as Egypt, India and South Africa (on state level) the drama is in the journey of successful narrative building. It is remarkably a commercial hit as Turkey is expected to earn $1 billion in TV series exports by 2023.