Friday, 15 May 2015

Film review: Niyazi Gül, The Galloping Vet

Professor Niyazi Gül (Ata Demirer) with his assistant Hediye (Şebnem Bozoklu)

By İpek Özerim

This new Turkish comedy centres on the life of veterinary surgeon Professor Niyazi Gül (Ata Demirer), a quiet and serious fellow. A lecturer at a university veterinary department, Gül devotes his spare time to researching for an elixir for animals. His mission was set by his grandfather, who died before he could tell young Niyazi the final ingredient.

Niyazi is aided by his cleaner-cum-research assistant Hediye (Şebnem Bozoklu), a colourful character who has no qualms about putting her boss in his place. Together, they offer up a whole manner of eccentricities: Hediye teaches the parrot to sing arabesque, while Niyazi tests various household vegetables hoping one of them will be the vital ingredient that his magic potion is missing.

The mad professor seems oblivious to Hediye’s growing crush on him, and any chance for romance seems curtailed when two crazy old lovers, Sultan (Demet Akbağ) and Rıza (Levent Ülgen), tumble into Professor Gül’s world, each desperate to utilise his expertise to win a horse racing bet.

There is more than a nod to classic Yeşilçam comedies here, and the laughs come in thick and fast throughout this action-packed comedy adventure. For British Turks, there’s the added hilarity of English words randomly used for heightened effect during the banter between Sultan and her man-servant Süleyman (Kevork Malikyan, who’s appeared in British TV sitcoms like Mind Your Language). 

Levent Ülgen plays a Turkish mafia-baba
that's head-over-heels in love with Sultan
The film is bound together brilliantly by Akbağ, who is simply sensational every time she hits the screen. Her flamboyant style is the perfect foil for Demirer’s deadpan character and her on-screen stereotypical Turkish gangster lover Rıza, played by Ülgen. Bozoklu holds her own as Hediye. In its quest for laughs the film does lose the plot, literally, in the final 20 minutes with an absurd twist that descends into total farce.

Still, having gone in at number one in the Turkish Box Office, BKM won’t be remotely worried the film hasn’t won over the movie pundits. As Demirer and Akbağ chalk up another huge comedy hit, the bets are on that this is the first of a new film series for them. 

Niyazi Gül, The Galloping Vet goes on general release in select cinemas across London from Friday 15 May. In Turkish with English subtitles. Running time: 106 minutes.


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