If you are looking for a solid drama series, give Kaderimin Oyunu a try. The new Turkish drama series airing on Star TV has only six episodes so far and I am hoping for a good run. If you are looking for malevolent characters with obsessive grudges like Babaanne Azize in Hercai or Emir in Kara Sevda, or Celal in Icerde, look somewhere else. If you are looking for fast moving, nail-biting action like Cukur, this series isn’t for you either. But if you’re looking for an in-depth look at relationships, then you’ve come to the right place.
Kaderimin Oyunu which translates to The Game of my Destiny, is a story about choices and consequences. It’s about young, playful love and mature, affectionate love; about the destructive effect of fickleness, and the healing power of constancy. It’s also about the paths to forgiveness and maturity. In short, it is a story about life. It’s also a love story, but not the kind you’re used to.
Kaderimin Oyunu is a multilayered series with emotional components that stem from a single act of betrayal. A betrayal that impacts the members of two families.
From what I have seen so far, and read in interviews with the actors, here’s the basic story. In Amasya, a city in northern Turkey in the Black Sea Region, young Asiye (played by Oyku Karayel) and Cemal (played by Akin Akinozu) meet, fall in love, and get married. The Kayas (Cemal and Asiye) were very young, no older than 17 when they married, and they were madly in love as is the case with young love. Shortly after their marriage, they have a daughter (Nergis played by Iraz Akcam) and they toil happily through the years, with Cemal working as a taxi driver and Asiye as homemaker. But, one day eight years after their marriage, on the day of his son’s birth, Cemal leaves inexplicably. Sobbing profusely, he calls Asiye who has just given birth in the hospital and tells her he can’t take it anymore, leaving Asiye to fend for herself, her daughter and newborn son.
As the story progresses, we learn that shortly before the birth of his son Ugur (Yildirim Ozcan), Cemal had helped a woman who was in a near fatal traffic accident. The woman, Helin (Meric Aral), is from a wealthy family and takes a liking to the handsome Cemal, and he, seduced by her glamorous lifestyle, leaves his family to pursue a different life. Meanwhile, Asiye struggles as a single mom, working in a garment factory to make a life for her children.
The story begins seven years after Cemal’s departure, when a catastrophe befalls Nergis, and Asiye is forced to take her family away from Amasya to protect her daughter. While on the road, she fortuitously meets Mahir (Sarp Apak), a businessman on his way back from Russia, who helps Asiye by taking her and her children to his home in Istanbul. As fate would have it, Mahir is the half-brother of Helin, and his home is the Demirhan mansion where Cemal also lives with Helin and their young son Ahmet (Bartu Barlas Bozaci). For a variety of reasons Asiye and Cemal cannot reveal their history to the inhabitants of the mansion, so only the two of them and Nergis (who remembers her father very well) know the truth.
That’s the setting for the story which does have elements of excitement relating to Asyie’s flight from her hometown, but for now those elements are secondary to the many emotional components. Cemal’s frivolous choice as a young man of 25 has consequences which play out in several meaningful ways. His relationship with Asiye is complicated at best because he never stopped loving her, and he finds that her presence tempts him in destructive ways. There are also indications that, despite her anger towards him, Asiye has not stopped loving Cemal either. Though she oscillates from hurt at seeing him with his new family, to anger, and ultimately disgust as he continues to pursue her, there are moments of tenderness when she recalls her happy life with him.
Fifteen year-old Nergis is angry at her father for abandoning her, and hurt by his affection towards his son Ahmet, but nevertheless wants him back in her life. Consistent with the situation of many children from broken homes, Cemal has to exert very little effort to redeem himself in Nergis’s eyes. Their journey promises to be an interesting exploration of overcoming estrangement between a father and daughter. Ugur, who never knew his father, is so starved for the love of a father that he clings to the first man who shows him paternal affection (much to Cemal’s dismay). There is no question Cemal deserves ostracization, but it is hard not to feel sorry for him as he watches his family flourish under the wings of another man.
There are also the secondary relationships that are not so insignificant. For example, there is Asiye’s relationship with Mahir who has accepted her family as his own. How will their relationship be shaped living in the same house as Cemal? Mahir’s undying support for Asiye’s family, although quite a bit exaggerated, is endearing him to her and has bound Ugur to him. Many a great love has started with less. There is also the kindhearted Helin who is oblivious to all around her. She believes Asiye to be her brother’s wife and Nergis and Ugur to be his children. With no knowledge of Cemal and Asiye’s history, she embraces her brother’s family with the intensity of any sister. How will the truth affect her relationship with Cemal?
The story also has its comedic elements with Raci (played by Kaan Cakir) who is Mahir’s shady half-brother, and his nosy wife Zahide (played by Esra Dermancioglu). There is also an “upstairs downstairs” element with the servants who live in too close a proximity to the Demirhan patriarch Harun (played by Mufit Kayacan) and Nedret (Ulku Duru). It is unclear this early on whether the tragic event that brought Cemal’s family to him is simply a foil for his growth, or whether there is a more tangible aspect that is yet to be revealed.
Kaderimin Oyunu does have its flaws of course. For example, Harun the patriarch is overcompensating his disdain for son Raci while giving son Mahir all the benefit of the doubt, and Mahir’s instant devotion to Asiye and her children is a bit disturbing and over exaggerated. Having said that, for the time being there are no truly hateful characters, but rather real individuals with flaws and weaknesses, and that is refreshing to watch. I would like to believe the Kayas and Demirhans can muster the will to overcome their current unpleasant circumstance through understanding, compassion and most of all, communication.
If the series is allowed to continue, which I hope it does, I am looking forward to watching Cemal realize the meaning of commitment, and build his relationship with his children. It’s difficult to see how Asiye, who witnessed her daughter’s heartbreak over the years and watched her son grow up without a father, can ever forgive Cemal. And even if there is a path for redemption in that regard, it would be wrong for Cemal to do to Helin, what he did to Asiye so many years ago. Also, how can Asiye ignore Mahir’s never ending sacrifices for her? Though his growing affection for her is not her doing, it would be wrong not to reciprocate Mahir’s kindness in some way. I know it would be a break from conventional Turkish drama to allow Asiye to simply rely on herself rather than Cemal or Mahir, but that is what I would prefer. Given the reckless nature of his act (albeit at a tender age), I suspect that Cemal and Asiye’s love will be a wound they will live with for the rest of their lives. Perhaps it will wane over time, or maybe it will be a memory each will reflect over fondly in their twilight years.
What has impressed me most about the series is that it explores real-life, relatable dilemmas. Cemal’s realization of the mistake he made which led to the loss of his beautiful family is not unlike what many experience today. It is the consequence of a bad choice, a mistake. But it is one that a simple “I’m sorry” will not resolve. The road to redemption for Cemal is a long and tortuous one, and perhaps for some he is irredeemable. We shall see. I find him to be a tragic character, caught between two families, one on the verge of destruction, and the other in need of healing. I hope he finds a way to save both of his families.
While some may find the story to be slow moving, I find it to have a calming, contemplative affect. I’m often prompted to ask myself what I would do in a specific situation presented in the series, or whether I think the reaction of a character was appropriate. It is still too early to know which direction the story will take, or whether extraneous plot lines will be added to engage a younger, more impatient audience. Regardless of the direction, I do hope they continue to build on the various emotional elements that have captured my attention.
I give this series a 7 out of 10 with a potential to grow.
The series airs Friday nights at 8 pm on Star TV. For English speaking audiences, the series is available on North America TEN with English subtitles.
(C) Copyright by North America TEN