Nov. 06--As one of the stars of the Turkish soap opera Intikam (Revenge), Engin Hepileri is eager to reach out to his many fans in the Arab world. We speak to the actor about life on the hit show and what he thinks about his voice being dubbed over to Arabic
THEY DOMINATE TELEVISION screens across the region and garner higher ratings than their Arabic counterparts -- they are the Turkish soap operas and their popularity only seems to increase with every passing year.
When did this phenomenon begin sweeping the Arab world, attracting record-number viewers with tales of desire, love and revenge? It matters little to Middle Eastern audiences, from Beirut to Jeddah, who can't seem to get enough of Turkey's most popular export.
Actor Engin Hepileri, from the hit series Intikam (Revenge), is a star across the Arabic-speaking world. His show, which tells the story of a young woman who's out to punish the people who destroyed her life and her father's, is one of the most popular Turkish series on TV today.
It's no secret that Turkish programmes are extremely popular in the Middle East. Why do you think that is?
The fact that the cultural values and lifestyles between Turkey and the Arab world are similar, makes the tastes similar as well. These, of course, reflect in our programmes, and the audiences seem to embrace the characters in them easily.
Tell us about your latest hit series, Intikam. What is your role on the show?
My character's name in Intikam is Hakan Eren, and it is most probably the most colourful character that I have ever played. This character takes you out of the main axis of the programme with his humour. He makes the audience trust him and makes them believe that integrity is still possible, even though revenge is the name of the game.
What attracted you to the entertainment industry?
I have always searched for a way to express myself and share my thoughts and feelings, and that's how I discovered theatre. Cinema and television naturally followed.
What is it like to be famous in Turkey? Are you still able to move around freely?
Being recognised and getting attention is a part of our profession. I have always enjoyed conversations with the fans who stop me on the street. I learn about what they think of my work, as well as get helpful feedback on the show, which I share with the production team.
What would be a dream project for you to be involved in?
I would love to play a part in a big-budget international film that would have a tremendous impact all around the world.
Are you a fan of Hollywood?
I am a big fan of Tarantino films. His way of telling stories and the style he has introduced to cinema have always impressed me. Also, Tim Burton's dreamland and creativity proved to me the real power of cinema.
What do you think about Turkey's growing role in entertainment and culture?
The soap opera industry is rapidly growing in Turkey. Every other day teams are being established to realise new projects. I believe with this pace, Turkey will catch up with Hollywood.
Your programme is dubbed over in Arabic when it reaches places like Dubai. What do you think when you hear a different voice coming out of your mouth?
It feels interesting, of course, being dubbed by some other voice and into another language. I really like the dubbed version of me in Arabic, it's a beautiful language.
Tell us something about yourself that would surprise your fans.
I don't think I'm very interesting and I have never been out there with my private life, but most people are surprised when they hear that I have been in this industry for 20 years.
(c)2013 the Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
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