A Short Introduction into Kemal Sunal And His Movies

Image: Independent Türkçe

Kemal Sunal was born in Istanbul in 1944 and became an actor who left his mark on the Yeşilçam  period and the Turkish Cinema in general. Sunal, whom we started to see on the movie screen in 1972 with the film ‘Tatlı Dillim’ after the director Ertem Eğilmez discovered him, became popular in 1974 with the movie ‘Salak Milyoner’. This movie tells the adventures of a group of people who came to Istanbul from their villages to find treasure. After seeing how this movie was loved by the public, the sequel, “Köyden İndim Şehire” was shot.

In the same year, Sunal also acted in the movie “Mavi Boncuk” with a group of actors who are now known as a populer cast such as Metin Akpınar, Halit Akçatepe, Tarık Akan, Zeki Alasya and Münir Özkul, Adile Naşit and Emel Sayın. In 1974, he made his first leading man role in the cinema industry with the movie “Salako” directed by Atıf Yılmaz. In this film, he acted as a countryman who fell in love with the village headman’s daughter and ran away to the mountains with her. The next year, he also took part in the movies called “Şaşkın Damat” and “Hanzo”.

Image: Filmloverss

He then became an unforgettable actor as  ‘İnek Şaban’ in the Hababam Sınıfı series (The Chaos Class), which was directed by Ertem Eğilmez, a beloved comedy series still being watched by everyone. Hababam Sınıfı movies are about the high school adventures of a group of young people. The nickname of Kemal Sunal, who took part in 4 films of the Hababam Sınıfı series consisting of 6 films, began to be used among the public as “Şaban” after these films. He met Şener Şen, with whom he made movies with from then on, in the Hababam Sınıfı project.

In 1976, he and Şener Şen played in several unforgettable films titled “Tosun Paşa” and “Süt Kardeşler”. Following this, the 1976 movie “Kapıcılar Kralı” brought Kemal Sunal the “Best Actor Award” in 1977. He said that this is the first time a comedy movie character has won this award. This film was a comedy about the relationship between a pure but at the same time cunning doorman with other people staying in the apartment. Kemal Sunal played Seyit, the doorman of the apartment, in this movie. In the following years, he acted in dozens of timeless and unforgettable films such as ‘Köşeyi Dönen Adam’, İnek Şaban’, ‘Kibar Feyzo’, ‘Umudumuz Şaban’, ‘Bekçiler Kralı’.

Kemal Sunal died in 2000 due to a heart attack on a plane ride while traveling to shoot his new movie. He was featured in at least 82 movies and 12 theatre plays. He won the love of the people and left a huge legacy with the films and characters he played, especially in comedy and satire movies.  The term ‘Kemal Sunal Comedy’ is named after him and honors his talent; various books and articles have been written on this such as ‘Türk Sinemasında Kemal Sunal’ article was written by Yrd. Doç. Dr. Murat Önal (https://dergipark.org.tr/tr/download/article-file/724732) and ‘Kemal Sunal Comedy’ (https://www.kitapyurdu.com/kitap/tv-ve-sinemada-kemal-sunal-guldurusu/74487.html) book which was also thesis of Kemal Sunal published after his death.

For those who want to watch Hababam sınıfı full movie (with English subtitle):

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