Raising big concerns about what makes a person the appropriate mediator between people and their faith, the Turkish drama series on Netflix delves into psychological themes. The eight-part series, directed by Yagmur Taylan and Durul Taylan, is based on the same-titled novel by Afşin Kum. It stars Cagatay Ulusoy in the title role, with Aslihan Malbora, Ahsen Eroglu, Nazan Kesal, Cihan Talay, Aytek Sayan, and others playing major roles in a plot that, despite its realistic portrayal, is not based on genuine events.
Gokhan has firsthand experience with war and is still dealing with the stress of being the sole survivor of a violent raid. Years later, as he settles into his suburban life as a mechanic while still dealing with the mental anguish, “God” decides to contact him under the virtual identity Kubra and selects him as the chosen one and voice. In the process, he seeks a deeper meaning for his existence, and his followers gather closer, but not everyone.
Gokhan never develops into the larger-than-life leader that many expect him to be. He lacks the spectacle-worthy oratory talent and is instead a common man among others seeking a higher meaning to life and his purpose and place in it so that it all means something bigger. This is where the issue of faith comes into play, because, as the title suggests, Gokhan isn’t just the perfect protagonist we’re seeking for; he’s also not the main character. Kubra, the all-powerful heavenly presence speaking via the SoulTouch app, is continually reminding us of its omnipresence.
All eight episodes centre on escalating the conflict between believers and sceptics, eventually spilling over into the blasphemer category. This series plays with the idea of how such notions only gain power when they find vessels of transmission in individuals, and so a prophet or mediator between the general masses and the higher power is discovered. The Kubra series continuously shows how Gokhan’s character never grabs the spotlight as the main protagonist due to his constant need for reinforcement, much like the average man.
Despite dealing these thought-provoking cards on faith, the Netflix show does not support either of the cases presented or give preference to either school of thought. Instead of crafting a compelling narrative to support either side, it simply paints a picture of the benefits and drawbacks of clinging to faith for dear life, demonstrating that it all comes down to how a person harnesses the alleged powers of faith, or lack thereof.
Cagatay Ulusoy brilliantly directs this emotionally dark picture of a man caught between accepting his responsibilities as a recent cult leader and being an ordinary man who is equally troubled by faith and religion. Meanwhile, he is struggling to navigate the radical changes in his life, as well as those of others who expect him to rise to the occasion and take control of the narrative – his family for more personal reasons, such as his safety, vs. the public, who expects him to embody God’s word.
Again, Kubra, the Netflix show does not completely blow us away with something out of the ordinary because we’ve all seen comparable content with newly emerging messiahs on the scene, attempting to balance their responsibilities and agency. What distinguishes this series is how it cleverly intertwines the themes of religious faith and human-made technological advancements at the seams of a common ground that problematizes both aspects, particularly their monumentally imposing ways of both creating and breaking the sense of security and stability in human life.
What makes your jaw drop even more is the really terrifying depiction of how the people get drawn into what was previously Gokhan’s own mental debate concerning faith. Soon after, a resistance movement emerges, innately fuelled by violence despite the fact that it all began with the hopes of “saving” people and finding one’s altruistic purpose in the world, and it all disturbingly touches a nerve given how closely it mirrors real-life events despite being driven by a fictional plot.
What makes your jaw drop even more is the terrible description of how the people become entangled in what was previously Gokhan’s private inner struggle about faith. Soon after, a resistance movement emerges, innately fuelled by violence despite the fact that it all began with the hopes of “saving” people and finding one’s altruistic purpose in the world, and it all disturbs the viewer because it closely resembles real-life events despite being driven by a fictional plot.
Faith and technology are both about great systems of life that have proven to be vital components of our existence, whether you believe or not. To see a TV show compound them, only to go into a prolonged inquiry that has no hope of changing its one-sided acceptance of either argument, is like witnessing an existential discussion come to life. Kubra wins you over in its own unique ways by not turning everything into a didactic lesson.
On the other hand, it completely reverses the previous elements, and instead of questioning the main character for his madness, it constructs a narrative that allows him to transfer his personal beliefs to a larger political context, resulting in the chaos that ensues. If such topics pique your interest, you should absolutely watch this series, because it will make you think deeply and then leave you feeling confused about many personal views and coping techniques.