Bangladeshi actors and directors called for a ban for popular Turkish drama Magnificent Century (Muhtesem Yuzyil) known as Sultan Suleiman. Magnificent Century tells about the life of the 16th century Ottoman king known as Suleiman the Magnificent. This Turkish drama started airing in Bangladesh in November 2015 and has gained a massive ratings success.
Its popularity has prompted other networks to run similar foreign serials during prime-time, causing many local serials to shut down.
Industry chiefs say that local actors have missed out on millions of dollars’ worth of pay as a result while dozens of studios have been forced to close.
Some commentators state that foreign serials destroys the local TV industry and encourages divorce.
“Everything Started with Sultan Suleyman”
Gazi Rakayet, the head of the Bangladeshi Directors’ Guild, told AFP that “It all started with Sultan Suleiman. These serials are destroying our industry which employs thousands of actors and crew.”
“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 has estimated a total loss of income for actors to be around $8 million a year.
“Local Dramas Have Poor Storylines”
The Bangladesh government has not responded to these criticisms yet. But several commentators have defended the foreign dramas by saying that people are watching foreign serials instead of local ones that have poor storylines.
“Sultan Suleyman is Undermining Family Values”
Some people also state that dramas are undermining family values in the conservative Muslim-majority nation. Especially, the scenes about Sultan Suleiman’s harem gather particular criticism.
“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.