Is Aşk-ı Memnu, the next Humsafar?

Published: August 31, 2012

Aşk-ı Memnu has provided Pakistan a much needed break from the usual faces and storylines. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

Remember the time when Hum TV’s show Humsafar became the talk of the town? Be it the song or the characters, the show got thousands hooked onto television screens with its twisted romance, plots, and of course, the indelible Fawad-Mahira chemistry.

As of late, however, there has been another TV show that has been gathering audiences in a similar manner. Surprisingly so, it’s not your everyday ‘saas-bahuStar Plus-type show, but from an altogether different culture and genre.

It is none other than newbie Urdu1’s Aşk-ı Memnu or Ishq-e-Memnu (forbidden love).

Set in the beautiful locales of Istanbul, the drama revolves around the lives of business tycoon Adnan Ziyagil, Bihter (Adnan’s beautiful young wife) and Adnan’s nephew, Behlul.

Adnan, a widower, lives with his two kids, Behlul, Mrs Denise (governess) and a few loyal servants. He decides to marry a much younger woman, Bihter, daughter of Mrs Firdevs, and that’s when it all begins.

The story is one of love, passion, heartbreak and deception.

The tale is twisted around a number of characters, each pivotal to the show. There is not one but several love triangles involved, where Mrs Denise loves Adnan, Adnan loves Bihter and Bihter loves Behlul, who on the other hand has a lot of women to cater to, including Adnan’s daughter Nihal.

Indeed it all sounds super complicated, but the show has managed to keep the curiosity of the viewers going – and going strong! However, the show has censored many of its intimate scenes, probably keeping the modesty of Pakistani television intact but subsequently, unfortunately, resulting in bad editing of the storyline. But if one considers that, doesn’t the same audience watch Star World and HBO, too?

I must say that the chopping away of important scenes has robbed the show of some of its intensity.

Having said as much, Aşk-ı Memnu has provided Pakistan a much needed break from the usual faces and storylines. Despite being dubbed in Urdu, the best part is that the emotion in the tone and the conviction with which the dialogues have been delivered haven’t been compromised on and that makes it easier for the audience to relate to these characters.

Moreover, the very true to Turkey background is a breath of fresh air and it would not be unjust to believe that the show might just end up boosting Turkey’s tourism further. In fact, I kind of know some people who are already planning a Turkish winter break.

Personally, I am a fan of the fashion sense of the female characters. There is a sense of grandeur in their clothing and accessories. Hats off to the ladies for carrying their gorgeous looks with such grace.

On a critical note, some voices are mismatched and the show seems to be dragging a bit with too much going on all at the same time. In addition to this, I fail to understand how Nihal falls for Behlul since they have been brought up almost as siblings ─ a tad awkward, don’t you think?

Nevertheless, the genuineness with which the actors have performed their parts is commendable, be it the shrewd Mrs Firdevs or the humble Adnan, you do end up appreciating them all in their skin!

Initially, I thought the whole thing was a bit of a lame concept; I mean, why would you watch a dubbed show when you have the option of subtitles? But fortunately, for Urdu1, the way people have been reacting to the show is remarkable. It went on air in two seasons from 2008 to 2011 and took the Arab world of entertainment by storm.

This series plays as a sweet reminder of one of those Humsafar days, when everyone was concerned about the tragic love story of Khirad and Ashar. That should be quite a huge compliment for the show.

Aşk-ı Memnu might not quite be there yet, but with the speed Behlul and Bihter are racing to the hearts of the audiences, it sure has the potential to be the next Humsafar.

Read more by Farwa here or follow her on Twitter @faamer

Farwa Aamer

Farwa Aamer

A final year undergraduate at University College London studying BSc economics. A passionate writer, traveller and loves living life. She tweets @faamer (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ayesha Khan

    Im in love with mrs denise. What a beautiful woman!Recommend

  • Confused

    Is it just me or do most of the characters not look like ethnic Turks?
    Behlul is a blonde with blue eyes!(Nordic, German?)
    Another thing is the Turkey they show on the show looks clean and well maintained, like western or central European countries. Too bad in real life it isn’t even close.

    Has anyone else noticed how EVERYONE on the show is attractive, it is not even cool anymore, show me one avg looking person on the show.Recommend

  • abcd

    @confused sir i followed the Turkish women volleyball team in Olympics and there were good faces in that team as well. They all look like ethnic turks i don’t know how you have judgedRecommend

  • Sane

    This show is just nonsense and far far way from reality. Yes, good for watching beauties only.Recommend

  • Guestgirl

    its wayyyyyyy better than humsafar!! yeah yeah i can see some profanity coming from humsafar fans for this comment…………Recommend

  • zara

    i love character of mrs.denise she is so composed n graceful all the time, adnan is ofcourse a true family man plus a brilliant business minded person …. bither is not much convincing, the story is more interesting than humsafer Recommend

  • Shifu

    This drama is addictive, seriously I am not the kind of person who can digest anything that’s dubbed, would rather read the subtitles but seriously while hating this drama in the begging I don’t know how I fell in love with it. This drama is inspired by a romantic novel which is very famous in Turkey. You didn’t mention that Behlol is a casonova and Behtar fell in love with him but Behlol is coward he wouldn’t take stand for Behtar. Recommend

  • Babar

    Well if i wud express my feeling for this outstanding drama in one line so i wud love to say that ( I am really in love with this Drama ) fantastic production awesome Team of actors and actress classic family and love story Simply its Rocking ………. Recommend

  • Athar

    Seriously addicted to this drama. To me its even better than Humsafar.Recommend

  • Awans

    @Confused: Well I have met many Turks in my life and infact My cousin married one Turkish girl and she is brunette while her Sister is Blonde and I have met the same Turkish like I am watching in this drama but Turkish are a total mix like Pakistan but far more decent, liberal and also better in looks than most of Pakistan. Also If you think that Brunettes and Dark Blondes with Blue eyes dont exist in Pakistan then you are wrong. If you want to see green and blue eyes then visit Hazara Regions and even in My family in Punjab half of us have Brunette hair while my uncle is red haired and even Some of us have Green and Blue eyes and I am actually talking about Northern Punjab and Murree regions upto Hazara and even my family living in Soon Valley have these features and colored eyes.Recommend

  • Confused

    I am not saying that Turks are ugly. I am saying they don’t look like Turks.Recommend

  • Tanvir

    @Confused. I’ve spent 2 days in Istanbul (on a connecting flight to Manchester), and I’d say its extremely clean – yes, more clean than Manchester. Pakistan could learn a thing from them. They have some lovely large Mosques and palaces with many Islamic artifacts. Well worth visiting.

    @abcd True, each member of the Turkish volleyball team could be models Besides that, perhaps the attractive athelete at the Olympics was a Turkish gymnast called Goksu Uctas. Incredible natural beauty with skills to match. Recommend

  • Tanvir

    @Confused Oops, her name is Göksu Üçtaş. Incredible natural beauty with skills to match.Recommend

  • Turk

    I am turkish and I can asure that they look like turks.
    Turkish people are very mixed, but many people who
    haven’t been to Turkey or don’t know any turks (or just a few)
    have this stereotype, about dark haired, dark skinned people.
    I myself have very pale skin, my sister and my cousin have dark skin and hair.
    Another two cousins have blond hair. My aunt is blond
    and has green eyes. And all this is actually normal. You can find many brunettes
    with dark skin, but there also many blond people in Turkey. Depending on the region
    you can see more dark skinned or white skinned people.
    Just wanted to clarify. Recommend

  • Dunno

    The piano teacher is the only female character with decent morals in the show. I’ve heard that this is actually adapted from a bookRecommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    This is the first time I’m hearing about this show, and already I’ve made up my mind to watch it, simply for the Turkish title and Turkish scenery.Recommend

  • Munir

    Mr Suleiman is normal looking :[email protected]: Recommend

  • Mustafa Moiz

    I can’t find anything before Episode 20.Recommend

  • Sed


    Then in your opinion how do Turks really look like? It’s like saying all Pakistanis are brown. They have pathans, punjabis, balochis and sindhis and they all have different skin colors. This drama is based on the western coast of Turkey in the city of Istanbul and people there look more European. The western coast of Turkey is a part of Europe and the eastern coast is part of the middle east so you have more Arab looking Turks there. And, Turkey is clean in reality. It receives 35 million tourists ever year and was labeled the European Capital of Culture two years ago. Recommend

  • Aliya

    The fact that most parts are censored is because they have taken this show from the ARAB world. It was dubbed in arabic first and now in Urdu so it really sucks that most of the scenes are canceled for Pakistani audience. but is is way better than humsafar if only they show all the censored scenes since they are not so wild but sometimes the play does not make sense. Ask i memnu is 1900 novel by the most famous Turkish author . It was banned at that time because it was too advanced but now they have made modern day soap opera of it that it is why the story follows so well. it is the first Turkish novel everRecommend

  • kaina 19

    Haha sooooo true! Love itRecommend

  • Hazal Kaya lover

    I don’t care about the plot or story! I am in love with the beautiful faces! @confused, Yes, there are all angels! not a single avg-looking person except suleiman uncle:P
    Besides, I love Nehal, so picture – perfect!Recommend

  • AF

    Its an old drama telecasted between 2008 – 2010. I have Seen all the episodes on YouTubeRecommend

  • AF

    I am going to name my son BehlulRecommend

  • geeko

    Obviously, cinema is never representative, but it’s not like in Bollywood where the leading actors and actresses literally look aliens compared to the overall population ; I’d say, from personal experience, that they represent Western Turks (Izmir, Istanbul…) which, anyway, had foreign genetic influence, esp. from the Balkans (“Behlul” you talked about, the actor KıvançTatlıtuğ, is a Bosniak.) but they’re all seen as “Turks” (inclusive identity).
    Then you have people looking like Levantines (Syrians, Lebanese, …) in the south or the Kurds who generally look more “Eastern” (a bit like the Pashtuns – that’s the idea peoples in the West have of the “average” Turk.)

    But they’re pretty representative and, yes, a really good looking people – like Lebanon, an “average” looking woman is a rarity : P And as the writer puts it, they do combine charm, elegance, class and brains…

    By the way, didn’t know it was such a success… when it was introduced in the Arab world, it was a super hit too.Recommend

  • random1

    true, one ends up appreciating them all along with their imperfections. the best though, i believe is the way the play has been dubbed.Kudos to the people who have managed to deliver the dialogues in superb manner which has kept intact the essence and context of it all.
    Adnan is a treat to watch with all his patience, calmness and modesty, so is Mrs. Denisse, always the i-can-handle-it-in-a-mature-manner, not to forget Mr. Ferdvs whose striking dialogues and spying ways are amusing and entertaining. so put it all in one sentence, everybody seems to be doing justice with the character they are playing.
    P.S: the storyline is wayy better than humsafar. Recommend

  • Maryam

    @Hazal Kaya lover:
    I also love her……… superb drama…..i just love beautiful scenes of behlul and bitherRecommend

  • Henna Khan

    The sporadic scenes I watch are only for Behlul and I think he also has the best dressing sense but in acting no one beats Nihat…Recommend

  • Dr misbah

    With a four year personal experience ….turkey is beautiful and neat….even the villages are so neat …the characters are all what turks are like ….the women are highly fashionable and well groomed…[email protected] confused …has a very superficial idea… the drama …love the characters….love the backdrop of the scenes….my love….the Basphorous….Recommend

  • Manal

    i say ishq e memnu is wayyyyyyyyyyyyyy better than humsafar..humsafar has a lot of loopholes and not-so-believable parts, and the ending was just a disaster…humsafar doesnt even get to that point where ishq e memnu is, amazing drama, amazing acting, all very natural, excellent direction, excellent acting and very close to reality. i mean in every scene or on every dialogue i’m like this is exactly what i wouldve done, this is exactly how i wouldve reacted. its all so believable. you dont for a minute doubt antyhing as being any other way. oh and bihter has a killer wardrobe!!! she’s our new style icon!Recommend

  • ZJK

    Wow, I just came across this article and am surprised to see that I’m not the only one so stuck on this show that I refuse to move till it’s done and over with from 9pm-10pm every night. I recently came back to Pakistan after having spent 6 years in the UK. I hardly like ANYTHING on TV (I’ve never even watched humsafar), but this show had me hooked right from the start, which surprised me because it’s dubbed. I kind of disagree that the story line has been affected due to the censoring. I’ve watched the uncensored Turkish version with English subtitles to see if I missed anything because of those scenes and I can assure you, we’re still on track.

    Regardless, I have to agree with the person who commented saying that Turkey is better than Manchester. Dude, I would go ahead and say Turkey is WAY more beautiful than UK period. My family members and friends are British and they agree, especially those who have visited Turkey (and not just the tourist hotspots, I mean). Pakistan could learn a thing or two from the Turks in terms of cleanliness and development.

    I was going to respond to “confused’s” comment about the looks of the Turkish people but I think most people have already addressed that. Just to reiterate, I had a lot of Turkish friends at university and at work and they were all very fair skinned, blonde haired and some even blue eyed, people. Kivanc (who plays Behlul) is very handsome even in his regular photos and so is Beren Saat (who plays Bihter) and Zerrin Tekindor (who plays Ms Deniz). Hazal Kaya (Nihaal) is also a very pretty girl.

    Lastly, it’s nice to know I am not the only one planning a trip to Turkey ;-) …as a matter of fact, I’m going one step ahead and visiting the house where it’s shot. I got the address off of Google and a lot of people seem to have pics with it.

    Ps..has anyone noticed how awesome the music is!? I have it as my ringtone (the instrumental, not the Urdu song).Recommend

  • ZJK

    I just wanted to add that the story is based on a popular novel of the same name written in the 1800s. It’s a classic Turkish novel and this is the second time it has been turned into a TV show. There was an ask-i-memnu on Turkish TV back in the 70s as well. Also, the show was so popular between 2008-2010 that the rights were sold to the Spanish station Telenova. The will be redoing it in Spanish next year, starring Gaby Espino.Recommend

  • Manal

    @ZJK yessss the music is awesome!!! i keep humming it to myself all the time, its like stuck in my head and i love having it there!Recommend

  • ZJK

    @ Manaal (or anyone else interested), the soundtrack is available to listen/download for free here:

    Tracks 3, 5 & 6 are the ones I mostly listen to. Track 3 is the main theme.Recommend

  • CuTeE p!e

    ish a mammnu is a heart touching drama dat attractx lotx n missing even a single scene makes me crazy 2nd best after humsafar …….a big fankx to urdu 1 4 presenting such an drama …itx a real fun n joy to c it evey day…..3 cheerx 4 ish a mamnu…………..datx rockx on our heartx….<3Recommend

  • sidra

    I would love to watch this drama, but I don’t have this channel. Does anyone know where I can watch the Urdu dubbed episodes? I searched YouTube but it starts at episode 22.I just prefer the Urdu version so I can watch it easily with my family.Recommend

  • bee

    mrs.firdous <3 <3Recommend

  • ZJK

    @Sidra, if your family is conservative, you might not be able to watch it with them even though it is censored. Anyway, here is a Facebook page which usually puts up all episodes and you can request them further to upload more, if they haven’t done so already:

    And you can also Google “Ask i memnu urdu subtitles”. If you can’t find them all, I’m afraid you’ll have to watch them with English subtitles. Those are available on YouTube.Recommend

  • khan

    NEhal(hazal kaya) is superb in this drama…Recommend

  • Aakif Shahbaz

    Most of the people were first attracted to the show because of no ads during the show on Urdu1.
    Secondly, bright faces, nice culture, and their way of talking to each other.The story was also really romantic and also dramatic.

    Once went to buy eggs when its 8 on the clock, loud sounds are waving out of almost every home.I am one of the biggest fans of this series.Thumbs up for Ishq-e-Memno.Recommend

  • Rabiya

    In the last episode Beheeter is going to commit suicide according to her script and that is the climax of story. The Ziagill family leaves the place and moves to some other…and Nihaal asks Mademoiselle in the last scene to sit with his father … to driver’s seat…………Recommend