Kivanç happened in January of 2017. That’s when Netflix recommended Kurt Seyit & Sura; I binge watched it, then moved on and literally snorted Cesur ve Güzel. I watched it every week in Turkish on Star TV, then watched the whole 2.5 hours per episode series again, this time with subtitles. I continued to drip feed my Turkish drama addiction, until April 2018, when I experienced a full-blown feast with a rather large platter of self-indulgence. This, by way of a visit to Istanbul with 50+ Turkish drama aficionados from Facebook Turkish drama-loving groups; sampling the food; inhaling the Bosporus air, taking in the architecture, and most importantly, traipsing the locations of our most beloved Kivanç serials.
Imagine my absolute delight, when only one day after my return, Facebook pops up with a recommendation for a workshop being held by Tamer Levent—and it’s for that very day, and in my hometown! I checked the time; luckily, it’s early enough, so I haven’t missed the start. Up sticks, and off to find the venue, ready to immerse myself once again in the Turkish dizi world.
With heartfelt thanks to the organisers of the London Turkish Speakers Theatre Festival I was able to observe Tamer Levent, better known as Tahsin Korludag (Cesur ve Guzel), in action. As part of his ‘Say Yes to Art’ movement, he performed a theatre workshop with the children of a local Turkish community in London, followed by a screenwriting workshop with Turkish community members. His passion and dedication to art is astounding! I took the opportunity to ask him questions that had been niggling at me about the Cesur ve Güzel series. He was utterly gracious and in perfect English, answered every single one of my questions. Below are some of the highlights of our chat (as I understood them).
Was the way the series ended close to the original premise of the characters, set out in the early episodes?
No! Tahsin was based on a character played by Orson Welles and Cesur was based on a character played by Paul Newman in the movie The Long, Hot Summer. By the end, these characters did not resemble what we had started playing them as.
What was the reason for the change?
During the filming (writer) Ece Yorenc left. We had FOUR new writers come in! They changed the direction, frequently, based on audience feedback. Each week became different, which caused some challenges for the actors in preparation.
Why was so much prominence given to the Riza character?
Ha! Even Riza (Yigit Özsener) was bemused! This character was originally based on The Birdman of Alcatraz. No one could understand how a prisoner of 30 years could outwit Tahsin!
What did you think of Tahsin?
Tahsin was a clever Mafioso type person – he never did any of his own dirty work. When his sidekick (Salih) was killed, that changed things for him.
The KTNA (Kivanc Tatlitug North America) team discovered that the farm and Cesur’s house were far away from Istanbul. Did you stay locally or return to Istanbul every night?
We typically were shooting 14hrs every day. When you return that late, you could get home in 20mins as no one else was around!
Spending time with Tamer was an honor and having the opportunity to chat about Cesur ve Guzel, was an unexpected treat. I am so happy to share this experience with my KTNA Turkish dizi posse!