Dikkatli ol, This review contains spoilers.
Between now and when I watched my first Turkish series, one thing has been made abundantly clear – an Ay Yapim production is synonymous with quality assurance.
When it was first reported that Ay Yapim was teaming up with Hilal Saral, the director behind their International Emmy-winning hit series “Kara Sevda,” my interest was instantly piqued.
The result of their collaboration is a new drama entitled Zemheri. Zemheri tells a love story that soon turns sour due to family obligations. When Ayaz (Alperen Duymaz) meets Firuze (Ayça Ayşin Turan) for the first time, it was as though the stars aligned in one perfectly orchestrated moment. Their love was love at first eye contact – literally.
Ayaz spends the better part of the first episode wooing Firuze, and going the extra mile to make sure she noticed him. Attending the same university and co-existing in the same circles made running into each other almost inevitable. You know the saying that when you meet your soulmate, you’ll know. Well, the relationship between Firuze and Ayaz was depicted as a true example of that.
Though she’s reluctant to open her heart to him, Firuze eventually succumbed to Ayaz’s unrelenting yet endearing pursuits, falling in love with him and him with her.
Having found comfort in one another, life was going beautifully for FirYaz. Speaking of beauty, the scenes between Firuze and Ayaz were edited to near perfection, pulling the viewer into their world, filled with rainbows and roses. The visually breathtaking shots that anchored Firuze and Ayaz’s love story left you with no choice but to root for them at all costs, bearing in mind the inevitable foreshadowing about the pair's long-term future, Turkish “dizi” style.
Fate’s plans are soon intercepted when Ayaz instinctively saves the life of Berrak (Hazal Filiz Küçükköse), some rich girl with a powerful force behind her. No good deed goes unpunished, and in the case of Ayaz, this meant impending doom. He had saved her life and he was not too bad on the eyes either – Berrak had hit the rescue romance jackpot.
She soon forms an emotional attachment to Ayaz, albeit the married man she claimed to be in love with scenes prior. Being a spoilt brat that always got what she wanted instead of the psychiatric help she actually needed, Ayaz was going to be hers – come hell, come high water. Granted, a letter written in response to hers from a family member claiming to be Ayaz did nothing for her delusions, but whatever happened to saying thank-you and being done with it? Ertan (Caner Cindoruk), her big brother, happened. Instead of making sure his sister, who he referred to as “sick” a few times, is keeping up with her therapy appointments, he fed into her delusions, doing everything in his power to make sure she was not upset –– under any circumstances.
Seeing as Ayaz had refused her advances, his right considering his heart already belonged to someone else, Ertan wasted no time in making his stance known to Ayaz with subtle threats. Ayaz hadn’t budged – a deadly mistake that cost him a life and a future with Firuze.
Without a moment’s notice, Ayaz had transitioned from Firuze’s every desire to her greatest regret. He had proposed one night, the next, he was gone – without a trace. As a heartbroken Firuze frantically searched for him, she was met with disappointment at every turn. It was as though the last couple of months had been a dream, one she did not want to wake up from.
Setting aside her resentment for a minute, Aliye (Zerrin Tekindor), whose story we are yet to learn, shines through during a sit-down conversation with her daughter Firuze about life and missed opportunities. Tekindor is a terrific actress best known for her multi-season run on the soapy drama Kara Sevda, among other Ay Yapim Productions. Once again, immersed in a soap opera world she thrives and elevates the material given to her way above its inherent quality.
Time goes by and Firuze finally finds the strength to carry on, until her life comes crumbling down once again when her beloved father is accused of a deadly accident she believes he did not commit.
With a brother on the run and a mother who could care less, Firuze hatches an elaborate revenge plot that, in the premiere episode includes taking advantage of a highly predictable male trait of falling hopelessly in love upon encountering a beautiful woman.
From there on out, Firuze’s strong character carries the story as she sets her sights on Ertan, the big boss involved in the accident that her father is accused of committing. She has one plan – get him interested in her enough to give her a job at his company, allowing her to effortlessly infiltrate the ranks, thus providing her access to files needed to free her father from prison.
Here’s where it gets juicy – Present-day Ayaz is in a relationship with none other than Berrak, the same woman he had saved her life earlier on and Ertan’s little sister. Not only that, Ayaz had unintentionally played a vital role in framing Firuze’s father. Oop.
On that note, there's much to unravel with "Zemheri" and Episode 1 was just a taste of what's to come.
Impossible love is the premise of pretty much every Turkish drama, so there is nothing particularly unique about the Zemheri story but that certainly does not make it any less worthy of your time. The drama is charged with a great premise and an awe-inspiring cast who with ease unwrap coincidences, connections and the many concentric circles.
Ultimately, the deeply-layered drama strikes a strong balance between the familiar and the new to breathe fresh life into classic TV tropes.
Firuze finally knows what the man who betrayed her has been up to and with good reason, she will not be going out quietly.