The review of the first season of Shahmaran, a Turkish series produced for Netflix that does not exploit the potential of legends and traditions full of charm and beauty.
Comes from Turkey Shahmaran: a series inspired by traditional tales and legends that proposes a love story full of destiny and mortal dangers.
A project, as will be underlined in our review, which starts from a fascinating premise and then gets too lost in sentimental triangles and supernatural events.
While managing to keep the interest of viewers almost to the end, the new title Netflix leaves a little unsatisfied due to situations already seen, predictable surprises and an unbalanced epilogue.
The story told in Shahmaran begins with Sahsu (Serenay Sarikaya), the protagonist, who leaves for Adana for a job as a teacher and decides to meet his grandfather, who had abandoned his mother many years earlier for no apparent reason.
The young woman thus finds herself grappling with a mysterious community called Mar, a descendant of Shahmaran, a supernatural creature in whom she believes and which she considers a symbol of love and wisdom. The Mar have long awaited the fulfillment of a prophecy that may be related to the arrival of Sahsu. To complicate the situation is also the meeting with the charming Maran (Burak Deniz).
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A fascinating premise
By modifying some details of a tale spread in the Middle East, the series exploits the legend of a half-woman, half-snake creature to propose an intertwining in the name of a love thwarted by events. In addition, in the community of Mar there are tensions and struggles that have consequences for the characters.
Before knowing all, or almost all, the details of the legend, however, we must wait for the season finale of the series and this detail, especially at the beginning, excessively slows down the narration which passes, not without some difficulty, from the “human” to the “supernatural” dimension “. However, Shahmaran’s main problem is the lack of originality in the management of an idea, that of love between different “species” hindered by fate and by opponents who are not necessarily human, long used in literature, cinema and TV series .
Maran’s family thus seems to be an alternative version of the Cullens, with members endowed with different powers, able to move undisturbed in the world, and constantly awaiting any developments in the love story with Sahsu. The couple’s interactions in the middle of nature can only bring to mind those between Edward and Bella in the forest of Forks and the abrupt transition from independent young man to almost irrational love is a situation seen and reviewed.
Problems in constructing the narrative
The decision to explain the legend that inspired the show in the final bars is almost incomprehensible: the charm of the story, in which betrayal plays a central role, would perhaps have contributed to not diminishing attention in the face of stereotyped situations and predictable, leaving the curiosity to understand who, in the present, embodies the various protagonists of that ancient world.
The pilot of the series signed by director Umur Turagay, well directed and visually well constructed, looked like the first chapter of a promising project. Sahsu, from her interactions with her grandfather and her determined personality, seemed destined to be a non-trivial female presence and her connection to water was an intriguing characteristic of her. The introduction of the other characters, although not particularly thorough, was still satisfying, suggesting that there would be room for evolution. Maran, with her soul-torn demeanor and good looks, was nothing unique, but she could fit right in with Edward Cullen or the Salvatore brothers. The presence of a “threatening” element still shrouded in mystery then added that small dose of curiosity necessary to continue the vision.
The story, unfortunately, always seems on the verge of taking off without ever doing so and this leads the vision to be more difficult than expected. The relationships between the various characters, from grandfather and grandson to potentially opposing groups for centuries, remain superficial and do not evolve much over time. Sashu’s grandfather’s past also fails to have the desired impact, and the protagonist’s question about why the man has been absent all his life and only after she went looking for him seems to interest him for her, although the scenes between the two are among the most successful passages of the project, it is more than justified.
Two convincing protagonists
In a series in which the secondary characters always remain in the shadows compared to the two protagonists, almost all the weight of the entire narrative structure falls on the interpretations of the interpreters of Sahsu and Maran. Burak Deniz, while not having much material at his disposal, still manages to maintain control in his portrayal of someone who has more than one secret and whose true nature possesses a dangerous and frightening side. Luckily, the actor also knows how to give Maran some glimmer of lightness and irony amid so much darkness. The not particularly brilliant special effects do not help to make the moments in which the supernatural aspects of the young man’s story take the upper hand convincing, however between a dip in the lake and a surprise “seasonal” crisis, Maran does not excite, but neither disappoints, in the his role in the triangle (because, as expected, there is more than one young man who seems to be able to get romantically close to Sashu) sentimental at the center of the plot.
Serenay Sarikaya is instead very good in her interpretation of Sahsu, above all in representing the way in which life has hardened her and forced her to hide her most vulnerable side, while maintaining a freedom and a spirit that lead her to dance, immerse herself in nature and to seek one’s own balance. In many points of view, the writers lose the characteristics with which they had outlined the protagonist in the first lines, making it difficult for the actress to maintain the strength with which she had introduced her to the public. Subsequently, the more the love story evolves the more Sarikaya has to deal with scripts that show Sahsu giving in to his feelings, even the most irrational. The actress’s performance thus suffers from a drop in quality and the more dramatic passages, when details of her family’s past emerge or her young woman is in danger, are not enough to maintain the quality of the acting constant.
Symbols and images that strike
Shahmaran, from a visual point of view it is however well built by exploiting the symbolism present in every piece of the mystery. Between snakes, flashbacks, possessions, fire, water that purifies and gives life, and visions, the Turkish show produced for Netflix has its own charm. With a better budget and more
courage and originality in the writing phase, the series could have been more relevant within the international proposals of the streaming platform. At the end of the first group of episodes, which ends as all too predictable leaving the story hanging, instead it turns out to be a half-wasted opportunity that never passes with flying colors the difficult task of justifying the time spent in front of the screen by the spectators .
The first season of Shahmaran does not fulfill the promises made with the first episode and, as explained in our review, after an intriguing start well built on legend, traditions and mysteries, it gradually loses the thread of the narrative to take refuge in clichés and predictable turns. The family, an element that should have been well developed and central considering the structure of the present conflicts and the relationships between characters, then becomes an element too often overshadowed and underdeveloped, preventing the stories of the secondary characters from gaining depth. Despite the good performance of the cast and the undeniable charm of the folklore that inspires it, the series gradually collapses on itself, losing its originality and credibility episode after episode. The promising premises, however, leave the hope that in a possible continuation of the story we will move away from patterns already seen to find our own way.
Because we like it
- Seranay Sarikaya is good in her portrayal of Sahsu, especially in the first half of the season, and bears the brunt of a not always brilliant script.
- The legend and lore used as a source of inspiration are fascinating.
- Visually the episodes have very striking passages and carefully constructed symbolism.
- The love story has no characteristics that make it unique.
- The large number of characters involved in the narrative is not developed properly.
- The ending offers far too many turning points and dramatic moments, resulting almost chaotic.
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