Antagonist in cult Turkish movie sues TV series for insults, court says ‘you’ve acted well’

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published
This screen-grab from the movie Aile Şerefi shows the antagonist character Oktay portrayed by actor Eriş Akman.
This screen-grab from the movie "Aile Şerefi" shows the antagonist character "Oktay" portrayed by actor Eriş Akman.

A veteran actor who played the main antagonist in a cult Turkish movie from 1970s sued a recent television series for insults directed at his role, but the court denied the lawsuit on the basis that his acting of a villain was so good that it deserves insults.

In the movie "Aile Şerefi" (Family Honor) of 1976, actor Eriş Akman played the character "Oktay," a spoiled and disrespectful young man from a rich family that scourges a working-class family, along with his like-minded friends. They first hit the family's little boy with their car, crippling him. Then Oktay falls in love with their daughter Zeynep, but she despises him, and the group goes after her fiancée and beats him. In the final part, the group kidnaps Zeynep and tries to rape her, sparking a drawn-out chase and fight between the group and the family, ending with compassionate father Rıza, portrayed by iconic actor Münir Özkul who passed away last Friday, shooting Oktay. The movie ends with Rıza finishing his jail term and re-uniting with her family after many years.

While the movie featuring other stars of its time, such as Adile Naşit, Ayşen Gruda, Itır Esen and Şevket Altuğ, went on to become one of the most famous movies of Yeşilcam era, Oktay, not surprisingly, became one of the most disliked figures in Turkish cinema.

According to the report of Turkish daily Habertürk, this was also portrayed in a scene in the 2015 series "Kara Sevda" (Blind Love), in which characters cursed Oktay saying "This guy is making me furious," "That pander ruined those people's lives," and "He thinks he owns everything."

When Akman saw his character insulted in the series, along with the usage of scenes from the film, he launched a lawsuit claiming that he was insulted and his images were used without his permission. Akman alleged that the footage of his performance was used unfairly for commercial gain by leveraging his image, talent and fame. He also claimed that his personal rights were damaged and his honor and dignity were violated.

However, the court ruling was unprecedented, and was against Akman's demand for compensation.

In her detailed ruling, Judge Şule Binnaz Aydın Yunus praised Akman's acting of the antagonist, saying bad commentary from viewers reflects well on his ability to portray the character. Yunus stated that this is the case for many actors and actresses in Turkish society, and gave the example of Erol Taş, a famous Turkish actor who was "the" villain in Turkish cinema.

"This instance is just like Erol Taş's characters being known as stonehearted, like his surname suggests (Taş translates into stone in English), a cruel and a villainous character; in the same way, people call to those who do bad things in the community 'cruel traitors like Erol Taş.' This is in fact an indicator how successfully Erol Taş portrayed his characters, and cannot be interpreted as an accusation that the person himself is cruel or a traitor in reality," the judge said, noting that this is not an attack on the actor's personality.

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