Are People Hating on Dirilis Ertugrul Because of Imran Khan?

Can a TV show make us forget our own culture?


It’s no mystery that Prime Minister Imran Khan loves Dirilis Ertugrul. So much that he ordered PTV to bring it in Urdu for the Pakistani audience.

Of course, now that its out there in the wild, the show has all but smashed records on PTV’s YouTube channel. And why wouldn’t it?  The show contains an enjoyable plot, a rich cast of characters, and stellar production qualities. As a bonus, it being based on Islamic history as well as the ascent of the Ottoman Empire also added to its appeal. If anything, all this tells you how entertainment-starved folks are for quality content.

Dirilis Ertugrul
Actor Atlan Duzyaten as Dirilis Ertugrul

However, since this show was recommended by the Prime Minister, certain quarters are not too happy about how Dirilis Ertugrul ‘threatens our Pakistani culture and identity.’

Ummm… a mere TV show threatens our ‘Pakistaniyat?’ What is this, a boring Pak Studies class? This too from people who pride themselves on being open-minded in their thinking.

Suddenly, some folks have taken it upon themselves to become gatekeepers of what should be considered as OK and not OK for Pakistan audiences and culture:

To be honest, I particularly liked how Mere Pass Tum Ho featured an elaborate heist in the Bank of Spain. Everybody loved that show right? Oh wait, that was Money Heist. At least it wasn’t recommended by Imran Khan, therefore, a bunch of Spanish speaking characters did not succeed in threatening our cultural values.

Not in Line with Pakistani Culture?

It’s a TV show, you guys. People will talk about it and then move on to whatever the next biggest craze is. Remember Game of Thrones? Yeah me neither.

And then there’s this take, which is wrong on so many levels:

This counterargument sums up why it is disingenuous to link one’s culture being threatened by a TV show:

We should realize that it’s not all bad. When it works, cross-cultural exchanges can also lead to something beautiful. Take this example:

A Baloch musician is playing the catchy Bella Ciao theme song from Money Heist? How dare this musician foist that Italian song about revolution down our throats! *Sarcasm*

Let’s look back a little further. Heavens did not fall when two Turkish dramas Mera Sultan and Ishq e Mamnoon were aired since 2012. At least not by non-showbiz folks and that too during Nawaz Sharif’s administration.

Turkey earned more than $60 million in 2011 from exporting over 100 TV series to more than 20 countries, according to the Oxford Business Group.

Dirilis Ertugrul Esra Bilgic
Esra Bilgic as Halime Sultan in ‘Dirilis: Ertugrul’

Call it a combination of vindictive politics, petty egos, and a very ugly discourse that has been spearheaded by all major Pakistani political parties both online and offline. This sorry state of affairs has no place nor business in policing what kind of content Pakistani audiences can consume.

If anything, this whole brouhaha lays bare how political partisanship has brought out the petty side of human nature. PM IK deserves to be criticized for his shortcomings because as a leader he is held to a higher standard. But the latest campaign against him over a mere TV show? It’s a laughable own goal by his critics.

It’s not a total loss though. At least we got some quality trolling out of the whole issue.


Concluding thoughts

Of course, art is political. But at the end of the day, we all want to enjoy a good old show that’s not another shouting match on a Pakistani current affairs show, or a drama with damsels in distress, saas-bahu issues, and brain dead plots that we have seen before. If anything, our drama industry needs to push out engrossing content in a variety of other genres.

Before we end this post, here’s something for you to ponder about. Remember Tom Cruise in Top Gun, and blasting ‘Highway to the Danger Zone’ on your car stereo in 80s Pakistan? How many of us realized that Tom Cruise was selling us a slickly produced propaganda piece about the American Air Force’s superior might? It worked, didn’t it? But thank God there was no Twitter back.

Hopefully, our readers can draw up their own conclusions. But for now, I need to check if Dirilis Ertugrul made me forget my cultural values. Govinda certainly did try his best in the 90s but alas, that did not take.


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  1. …What is Pakistani film , oe TV drama culture ??since its birth..Pakistani.. fpakistani films making is off spring of Indian filmi style ..stories , music’s acting n film making technologies….they r inspitrd n inflonced by Indian culture ..their top skil is..are the Bollywood borrwed style..they copied Bollywood style and..of projection..of film making…the same like of their Guros in Bollywood..Now Turkish film Eretaghral ..has introduced the the film making….they should learn….their are other great film industries ..lika Turkish n Iranian fim industries..not only the Bollywood to follow..

  2. I have watched a couple of episodes until now, it has engaged me quite well. The point is that instead of watching porn, or movies that may cause hazard to the integrity of ROZA and our EMAN we should watch #ERTUGRUL . Last thing president does not impose it on us, you do not want to watch you better not.

  3. I think it’s better to watch such beautiful series of “Ertugral ghazi” which predicts not just our Great Islamic History but also force us to rethink about our dignity and cultures and how can Love and implement out Religion Islam. Instead of watching shameless darama serials, we should regularly watch it to know History but also for self-purgation.

  4. Nothing wrong with watching dramas of different cultures or life styles as long as they are not offensive to the watchers. Imran Khan has done a good thing keeping everyone busy during this lockdown and there is nothing in Ertrugul which should cause a problem for Pakistanis. Maybe people are tired of watching their local dramas where females cry consistently throughout the stories. Just my opinion.

  5. Pakistani dramas and films are copied from Bollywood which was borrowed them from Hollywood. If we do not become Westerners by watching a Hollywood film then how can we become Turkish by watching a Turkish drama which dignifies Islam ? At least it is better than watching an Indian films with stupid songs ?

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