KARACHI: The first episode of Pakistani-Turkish drama series based on the life of famed 12th century Muslim commander Selahaddin Eyyubi premiered in Karachi on Thursday, with its Pakistani producers saying “we don’t need supermen, we have got our real heroes.”
Eyyubi (1138-1193), the first sultan of Egypt and Syria and the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty, led the Muslim military campaign against the Crusader states in the Levant, which comprises modern-day Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and certain adjacent areas. After the battle of Hattin in 1187, he retook Jerusalem from the Crusaders who had conquered Palestine 88 years earlier.
Titled ‘Selahaddin Eyyubi,’ the series is a joint production of Pakistan’s Ansari and Shah Films and Turkiye’s Akli Films. It has been shot in Istanbul on a set spread over 200 acres of land, owned by co-producer Kashif Ansari. The show has been produced in Turkish language but it will soon be dubbed in Urdu, English and Arabic for audiences worldwide.
“This drama is not just for Muslims. It is our little attempt to show the world that it is possible to live in peace,” Junaid Ali Shah of Ansari and Shah Films told Arab News on the sidelines of the premiere.
“We don’t need supermen, we don’t need ironmen, we have got our real heroes and it’s about time the whole media industry started to shake the world a little bit [and] show what Islamic teachings really are.”
He said the name Selahaddin Eyyubi was so huge that to do it justice, they needed a production house from Turkiye, which has good viewership and can get it to all the people across the world.
The first, three-hour episode of Selahaddin Eyyubi has been aired by Turkish broadcaster TRT, according to Shah. The upcoming episodes will be of two-and-a-half-hour duration each, which will be released once a week in Turkish.
He promised that Pakistanis would get to watch the show soon on a local TV channel.
“We will be subtitling all the episodes. We will be dubbing them in English, Urdu and Arabic, and the rest of the world [will see it],” Shah said.
“Pakistanis will get to watch it on one of the local channels. We are talking to a few channels and we will be sitting down with them in the coming two weeks.”
He assured that they will be “inducting” Pakistani actors in the next season of the series.
Among the Pakistani actors shortlisted for the show are Ayesha Omar and Humayun Saeed, who are likely to be a part of the second season.
“They had to start with Turkish actors, obviously,” Omar told Arab News. “We are supposed to have our workshops, learn Turkish language and [then] work with them.”
She said her mother particularly excited about the prospect of her featuring in the show.
“Since I was very young, my mother was really into Islamic history and she used to tell us [about it]. Selahaddin Eyyubi was her favorite character,” Omar said.
“So, when I told her I was going to audition for this (series), she said ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe it’. It was like her dream come true.”
Saeed will be seen in a couple of episodes in the next season of the series once he finds a “dynamic” character, according to the producers.
“Not only me, other top Pakistani actors may also be a part of it. Hamza Ali Abbasi, Adnan Siddiqui, Fawad Khan,” he told Arab News.
“The way [Dirilis] Ertugrul aired everywhere internationally whether it was Egypt, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Russia, Pakistan or even India, this series will also go places.”
Saeed and Omar have been associated with the series since the beginning. However, according to Saeed, it was Adnan Siddiqui’s suggestion to collaborate with Turkiye for a joint production, when they went to visit the sets of Dirilis Ertugrul.
“One of the reasons to screen the series [in Pakistan] is for people to watch and spread word of mouth,” Siddiqui told Arab News.
“A lot of channel owners are also in attendance, they must be watching and evaluating it. There will be a round-table conference with them and we’ll see how things unfold [for the release of the series in Pakistan].”