Bangladeshi film industry rebels against 'raunchy' Ottoman period drama

Bangladeshi film industry rebels against 'raunchy' Ottoman period drama
A host of Bangladeshi actors and directors have condemned the screening of a popular Turkish drama on television, warning its 'sex appeal' is ruining the local film industry.
2 min read
12 December, 2016
Turkish drama is overtaking the local Bangladeshi film industry [AFP]

Bangladeshi actors and directors have called for a ban on popular Turkish drama set in Ottoman times, warning that local film companies cannot compete with the show's raunchy appeal.

Sultan Suleiman is a drama set in the 16th century Ottoman Empire, and a dubbed version began airing in Bangladesh in November 2015.

It has proved a massive hit in the country, but many in Bangladesh are concerned that the drama's raunchy appeal is damaging public morals and leading to a spike in divorces. 

Now other networks are offering similar foreign serials at the expense of local productions.

Bangladeshi industry leaders say this means few actors can find work while dozens of studios have been forced to close and they believe Sultan Suleiman is to blame.

"It all started with Sultan Suleiman. These serials are destroying our industry which employs thousands of actors and crew," Gazi Rakayet, the head of the Bangladeshi Directors' Guild, told AFP.

"In a survey, we've found half of all studios have been shut down due to lack of work. Hundreds of actors have been affected. Even the top actors have lost some 50 percent of their income."

Rakayet put a figure of $8 million a year as an estimate of how much money actors have lost.

Others direct blame at the Bangladeshi film industry itself which they say has become grown comfortable with producing poor quality dramas with weak storylines.

Others believe the Turkish drama is corrupting the morals of the Muslim-majority country.

"Sex is rampant in Sultan Suleiman and other foreign serials," said the actor Mamunur Rashid who heads the Federation of TV Professionals Organisation.

"Television is a family entertainment. Popularity cannot be the only yardstick," Rashid told AFP.

He said the programmes were also "creating social problems" with their bed-hopping plots pushing up the divorce rate.

"It's because of the extra-marital affairs that these channels show," he added.

Turkish dramas are also hugely popular where Harem al-Sultan as well as modern dramas such as Noor have proved hugely popular, but have also not been without their critics.

Agencies contributed to this story.