by Paola Cesarini
The 2013-15 Turkish series "Medcezir" is one of those rare cases in which the adaptation surpasses the original. Loosely based on 2003-07 American TV show "The O.C.", it is a stunning production boasting an all-star, outstanding cast; an excellent script; and a simply amazing soundtrack by none other than the incomparable Toygar Işıklı. "Medcezir" became the fifth most successful TV series of all time in terms of net sales in Turkey, and consolidated Çağatay Ulusoy's status as a cinematic youth icon.
In the first episode, "Medcezir" closely follows the original. Successful lawyer Selim Serez comes to the rescue of Yaman Koper, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks, when the latter gets into trouble on account of his wayward brother's shenanigans. Although he 'grew up in the mud', Yaman is smart, charismatic, honest, honorable and always true to his values.
Recognizing himself in the boy, Selim convinces his wife Ender to take Yaman into the family and, as a result, their seemingly perfect world is turned upside down. Soon, it becomes abundantly clear that it is the well-to-do community of Altinkoy that derives greater benefit from Yaman's inclusion, rather than the other way around.
A few episodes into the series, "Medcezir's" plot diverges substantially from "The O.C." in a direction meant to attract an older audience. The love story between the two gorgeous protagonists -- Mira and Yaman -- is much less adolescent-like, and at the same time more romantic and tasteful than Marissa and Ryan's teenage tryst. Indeed, "Medcezir's" protagonists are college students, rather than high-schoolers as in "The O.C." Moreover, in the Turkish series, the grown-ups are not empty caricatures, but strong characters with their own independent and interesting story lines. Most relevantly, "Medcezir" seriously confronts the social and cultural issues that "The O.C." only superficially touches upon. And finally, the American show's indie-rock soundtrack is replaced with outstanding Turkish musical performances by "Medcezir's" talented protagonists themselves.
Overall, three factors contribute to "Medcezir's" success. First, the intelligently revised script and heartfelt interpretations elevate this show way above the teen genre. For this reason, the series and the two main leads won numerous awards -- including the coveted Golden Butterfly Award for Best Actor. Second, "Medcezir" owes a great deal to the remarkable chemistry between the two young protagonists. Both gorgeous, skillful, and musically talented actors, Çağatay Ulusoy and Serenay Sarıkaya transform a shallow adolescent drama into a heart-warming and mature love story that viewers keep going back to, again and again. In comparison, the two young leads in "The O.C." appear juvenile, superficial and frankly miscast. And third, the perhaps more conservative approach of the Turkish series, which de-emphasizes sex and drugs in favor of cultural and class tensions, allows for a more substantive story line. In conclusion, those who have seen "The O.C." will surely enjoy "Medcezir's" new and improved version of the show. And those who have not are in for a treat.
On Friday April 17, StarTV is starting reruns of Medcezir, an internationally award winning romantic drama led by the talented young actors Cagatay Ulusoy and Serenay Sarikaya. Loosely based on Fox Network’s The O.C., Medcezir is a stylish, modern series that deviated significantly from the original, giving it a life and rhythm of its own.
Yaman (Cagatay Ulusoy) is a boy who was born on the wrong side of the tracks with one hand always on the door, having never learnt the true meaning of love. After he’s adopted by the Serez family and welcomed into the wealthy enclave of fictitious Altinkoy, Yaman becomes the anchor that pulls a core group of friends together. Mira Beylice (Serenay Sarikaya) falls in love with the handsome Yaman, while Mert Serez (Taner Olmez) finds love with his childhood crush and Mira’s best friend, Eylul (Hazar Erguclu). What might seem like a light teen romance is masterfully transformed under the talented producers of Medcezir, which captures many adult themes concerning loyalty, love, acceptance, ambition and integrity.
Originally on air 2013 - 2015 with a stunning production featuring an all-star cast, airtight script from a team led by Ece Yorenc, and an astounding soundtrack from Toygar Isikli (here), Medcezir became the 5th most successful Turkish TV series in terms of net sales. In addition, Cagatay and Serenay revealed their formidable musical talents by lending their voices for many of the songs on the show. We also see many young stars in the show who have gone on to make a bigger name for themselves since such as Aybuke Pusat, Ozge Gurel, Miray Daner and more.
Check out the extended trailer for the show below and find out more about Cagatay Ulusoy on any of the social platforms for Cagatay Ulusoy North America. Medcezir will air on StarTV on Fridays at 8 pm Turkish time.
Cagatay Ulusoy (born September 23, 1990) is a Turkish model and a versatile young actor, who has established himself as one of the country’s brightest young stars, being the first actor to play the lead in Netflix’s production foray into Turkey. Ulusoy has received one Golden Butterfly Award (out of 6 nominations), two Turkey Youth Awards, one Golden Lens Award and numerous other accolades. He has also been named to tachandler’s 100 Most Handsome Faces (in the world) 3 years in a row, as the highest ranking star from Turkey. Most recently, he received his first international award as one of GQ Middle East’s Men of the Year 2019. After his win as Best Model of Turkey in 2010, as one of the youngest contestants to do so at age 20, Cagatay has become best known for his dizi roles in Adini Feriha Koydum (2011 – 2012), Medcezir (2013 – 2015), Icerde (2016 – 2017) and the Netflix original The Protector (2018 – present).
Cagatay is managed by Engin Aykanat in Istanbul, and is also signed on by Hollywood’s United Talent Agency, one of the best known talent agencies in the industry.
He splits his time between Istanbul and California.
2011 – 2017: Turkish Dizi & Movies
Cagatay started filming in the lead role for “Adini Feriha Koydum” and breathed life into the complex role of Emir Sarrafoglu, a rich, young man who falls passionately in love with a girl who was more than she appeared to be. Starring alongside renowned actress Hazal Kaya, who played the titular role of Feriha, the show surpassed expectations and became one of the first few Turkish shows to be syndicated internationally. This made Cagatay/ Emir a household name in important markets such as the Middle East, Latin America, South Asia and Eastern Europe. The show ran for two seasons with 67 episodes. He resurrected the role of Emir in a short-lived spin-off series “Emir’in Yolu”.
Available in English before Adini Feriha Koydum , “Medcezir” is the 2013 series that shot Cagatay into international stardom, leading to his first Golden Butterfly award for Best Actor and ELLE Style awards. Co-starring with an ensemble cast that included Serenay Sarikaya, Taner Olmez, Hazar Erguclu and Baris Falay, Medcezir is loosely based on the FOX series The O.C. The adaptation deviated significantly from the original, giving it a life and rhythm of its own. Cagatay’s Yaman Koper and Serenay’s Mira Beylice brought a beautiful love story to life, set against the backdrop of the social tensions that exist within the rich enclave of fictitious Altinkoy. A stunning production featuring an all-star cast, air tight script from a team led by Ece Yorenc, and an astounding soundtrack from Toygar Isikli, Medcezir became the 5th most successful Turkish TV series in terms of net sales. In addition, Cagatay reveals himself as a formidable musical talent and sang many of his own songs on the show. Medcezir received the Seoul International Drama Award in 2015, and the award was received by Cagatay Ulusoy and Ece Yorenc, on behalf of the team.
Continuing his work with the same director from Medcezir ( Ali Bilgin ) and under the auspices of the same producers ( Ay Yapim ), Cagatay transformed himself into Baris Ayaz for a full-length movie called “Delibal”. Cagatay prepared for 6 months for this role, taking drumming lessons and studying people with mental health issues, so that he could believably essay the role of a talented musician and student of architecture, who also struggles with bi-polar disease. In addition to his acting prowess as Baris, Cagatay lent his voice to the song “Mutlu Sonsuz”, the principal song for the movie’s music track. Playing alongside Leyla Lydia Tugutlu, the movie was a critical and commercial success.
In 2016, Cagatay became the face of “Colin’s” clothing brand in Turkey and, together with Victoria’s Secret model Taylor Hill, shot the commercial Bize Uyar for the company. He is also said to have directed a short film titled “Home”, which focused on the homeless in Los Angeles, but the film has not been seen by a wider audience. Later in the year, he took on the lead role of Sarp Yilmaz, a resolved, unwavering, undercover policeman with a spine made of steel in the action-packed dizi “Icerde”, the first of its genre for Turkey. Inspired by Martin Scorcese's The Departed, Icerde manages to remain a quintessentially Turkish show, with action, drama, love and family portrayed beautifully. Starring alongside Aras Bulut Iynemli, who plays the lost brother, Umut, that undercover cop Sarp is desperately searching for in the gang he infiltrates, the 39-episode Icerde broke all sorts of domestic records and the ratings never fell below 7. It is also one of the top shows to have been syndicated internationally, to great success in Latin America and other markets. Cagatay cut an amazing hero figure in the form of Sarp and proved himself a worthy brother, son and partner. His performance won him the Turkey Youth Awards two years in a row, with his first one for Baris in Delibal.
2018 – Present: Netflix & New Frontiers
Cagatay’s domestic success and international appeal led to him being selected as the lead for Netflix’s first original Turkish production “The Protector”, a series based on the book Karakalem, written by Ipek Gokdel. Playing the role of a reluctant superhero, who is bestowed with special responsibilities and powers due to his lineage, Cagatay brings to life the complexities of a maturing young man who has to learn to embrace his destiny. The global release of the 10 episode Season 1 proved to be hugely successful for Netflix with more than 10 million views within the first four weeks. Even though the storytelling caters to a young, modern audience, and the style is vastly different than that of a traditional dizi, Cagatay’s acting as Hakan Demir was layered and true to a young man struggling with competing pressures on his heart and mind. Acting alongside other popular names such as Hazar Erguclu, Ayca Aysin Turan and Okan Yalabik, Netflix will drop Season 3 on March 5 2020, while the audience eagerly awaits Seasons 4, rumored to hit the screens later this year. For his role as Hakan, Cagatay received the Golden Lens Award and Best Actor – Internet Platform (by Ayakli Gazete ).
In the Fall of 2019, it became known that Cagatay will be directing his own project “Azadlik Saka” (“Freedom Bird”) based on a script he authored in collaboration with Toygar Aydin. News on filming or release schedules are not yet available.
Cagatay is now firmly established as an internationally recognized icon for Turkey, both as an actor and a person. He is known for his humanitarian efforts and supported a charity event in May 2019, hosted by the Monk Foundation in Tbilisi, Georgia, visiting children with cancer. For a young man who has achieved such stardom, Cagatay remains inspiringly humble, protective of his private life and is deeply loved by both fans and industry peers. His hobbies include basketball, painting, music, fishing, deep-sea diving, among others.
For more information:
You can watch The Protector on www.netflix.com
You can visit the IMDb profile pages for shows and other actors listed in the article
(C) North America TEN, CUNA & mh