The Ottomans and Khilafat
With the end of world war I in 1919, a movement named as Khilafat movement emerged in the Indian subcontinent. This movement was against the sanctions placed upon the ottoman caliphate by the British. These sanctions were a part of the humiliating treaty of Versailles.
In opposition to those sanctions, the Indian Muslim community started the above movement with the help of the Indian National Congress. However, one might argue that why were Indian Muslims protesting for the Turkish caliph? The answer is the prominence and importance of the Ottoman Empire in the Islamic world. Thus, it brings us to our topic of interest i.e. the Netflix series ‘Rise of the empires: Ottoman’
In medieval times, Constantinople(modern-day Istanbul) was the centre of the world, since it lay at the point where the two giant continents Asia and Europe met. Moreover, it was a dogma that whoever controlled this city, would be the ruler of the world. Before 1453, this city was ruled by the Roman emperor Constantine XI; also the last ruler of the roman empire. However, the city of Constantinople was unconquered by 23 armies, owing to an impregnable fortress.
However, in 1453, a young Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II decides to fight a do or die battle to gain Constantinople. Unlike his predecessor, Mehmed does not go with standard techniques of capturing the fort, but with a heavy artillery attack. This weakens the Romans considerably. However, amongst Romans, Giovanni Giustiniani puts up stern resistance. This leads to a stalemate that goes on for weeks.
Nonetheless, Mehmed possesses resourcefulness that equals the likes of Alexander, Chandragupta and Genghis Khan etc. With the help of a series of deflections on the enemy side and novel but bizarre ideas like carrying the ships through a forest into the harbor, Mehmed, cuts off all the respite to the Romans.
Yet, Giovanni Giustiniani turns out to be a tough nut to crack. But battles are won in the minds of the enemies. On the day of the final assault, a prophecy and a superstition aid the latter. Firstly, it is the day of the blood moon, widely believed to be a mark of evil amongst Romans. Secondly, they are bogged down by a prophecy that the name of the first and the last emperor of the Romans would be the same (Constantine).
As a final nail on the coffin, a strange light escapes from Hagia Sophia, signaling that divinity has left the Byzantines. This view is a big morale boost to the Ottomans. On the same night, the final assault on the Byzantines began. Initially, Giustiniani puts up a tough fight. However, a wayward arrow strikes him in his torso, thus incapacitating him. At this juncture, the Romans lose their heart. However, the emperor Constantine displays a great sense of courage and leadership. But Alas! it’s too late.
The Series review
The first highlight of the series is its thorough research in addition to brilliant storytelling. The scenes are elaborate and fortunately devoid of unnecessary explicit material.
The characters on the ottoman side have been well laid out, although more work was possible on the roman side. Nonetheless, one character stands out on the Roman side and that is Giovanni Giustiniani. Coming to the main character of Mehmed the conqueror, Cem Yiğit Üzümoğlu is impressive. Moreover, Tuba Büyüküstün is equally impressive as Mehmed’s stepmother Mara Branković.
Last but not the least, the battle scenes are hair raising. Especially, the strategic genius of Mehmed has been depicted very well, not to mention the martial skills of Giovanni Giustiniani. Overall, this docudrama is informative and entertaining at the same time.
Also Read: Film review: ‘Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior’
Image Credit: Netflix