Turkish comedy-drama film “Heartsong” is quite an unusual watch from the perspective of the cultural and regional presentations it brings to the fore while telling a typical love story. Set in the rural landscapes of Turkey and about a small gypsy settlement, the film essentially tells the tale of a man from a socially lower family falling in love with a woman from an influential household. The protagonist and his accomplices all being gypsy musicians by profession, and the film itself resembling characteristics of a musical at points, ‘Heartsong’ puts much emphasis on its music, and it is indeed the music that binds it all together.
‘Heartsong’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
The film begins with a written introduction for the people we are about to see, the Doms, or gypsy musician groups, who travel from place to place with the hope of touching people’s hearts with their music. Piroz and his elder brother Hogir are two such musicians who live in a small settlement of gypsies, and both work as musicians, serenading at village weddings and other occasions. One day right before such a wedding, the two brothers get word that their father, Mirze, has run off on his horse-drawn cart once again. By now, the two are tired of their father’s such actions, as Mirze desperately wants to unite with his lover, Dilo, just days after his wife has died. Hogir and Piroz intercept Mirze in time and bring him back to their village, where they tie him down to stop him from running away again. While the sons tell their father that it does not look good that he is running to remarry only a few days after his first wife has died, the real truth is that Dilo is dead, and Mirze is delusional that she is still living. That evening, Piroz, Hogir, and the elder brother’s young son go to the nearby village for the wedding they are supposed to play at. As Piroz walks around the house by himself, he suddenly stumbles upon the bride-to-be, Sumbul, who sings a catchy tune very well known to Piroz. The man sings back the next tune in harmony, and Sumbul follows up; the two continue this and instantly fall in love with each other. Sumbul is soon presented to her groom, and the woman asks him to sing the same tune, but when the man sings terribly, she laughs at him and calls him a donkey. The groom already feels insulted by this, but matters turn much worse soon when the bride and groom are brought out into the open to start their marriage ceremony. Sumbul, still enchanted by her short, sweet moments harmonizing with Piroz, starts to walk towards the musician who sits in one corner and serenades along with his brother and nephew. Someone from the groom’s family calls Sumbul crazy, and the bride’s family members immediately respond with violence. As the two families fight ferociously among each other, Sumbul and Piroz lovingly walk toward each other, before the musician is also hit by flying punches, and he falls to the ground.
The next day, as Piroz learns that the marriage has been canceled and the groom has returned the bride to her father, as is custom in the place, the man excitedly sets about his next plan of action. Rushing to his brother and father, Piroz tells them that he wants to marry Sumbul, and the family readily agrees. Together, they all go over to the village to formally propose the marriage to Sumbul’s father, Seymen. However, Seymen, who belongs to a higher social class than the gypsies, feels terribly insulted by such a proposition, and drives away Piroz and his family with beatings. As Piroz pines to unite with his lover, his father Mirze also longs to be with his lover Dilo, whom he once could not marry due to similar social pressures.
How Does Piroz Rescue Sumbul And Marry Her?
When Piroz asks his father about what to do next, Mirze unabashedly tells his son that he should pursue his lover since he is so confident about his love for her and also hers for him. Mirze suggests that his son should not make the same mistake that he had made in his life when he had gotten married to someone he did not love. Piroz follows suit and goes over to Sumbul’s village, where the woman’s cruel father and brothers have decided to punish her for bringing such shame upon their family. They tie Sumbul to a pole in their barn and leave her all alone there, also planning to kill her soon. Piroz tracks his lover down by singing the same tune, to which Sumbul sings back, and the two now have their first conversation with words as the man finds a hole on the barn’s roof and romances with his lover. When the brothers come to kill Sumbul, Piroz pulls the strings on his fiddle to make it sound spooky, and Sumbul gladly plays along to act possessed when the whole village comes to check it out. The woman’s family is now convinced that their barn is haunted and that an imam (religious preacher) needs to be called to free Sumbul of the spirits. They go looking for the local exorcist, Kalender, who happens to be from the same settlement as Piroz and also a close friend of his family. Piroz goes over to Kalender first and asks him for his help, to which the man readily agrees and tells him of a plan. Next, Kalender goes over to Seymen’s house and enters the barn alone, asking others to wait and pray from the outside. Here, he pretends to sing chants to drive away the spirits of Sumbul, but instead tells the woman to drink a potion from a bottle that he hands her. This potion makes Sumbul unconscious for long hours, which makes her family think that she has committed suicide. Seymen and his sons happily dispose of her body in the graveyard, where Piroz goes to search for her at the end of the day. The woman had not died and had now come back to her senses, and this had indeed been Kalender’s plan all along. Once again reunited by the tune, Piroz and Sumbul now happily travel towards Piroz’s settlement, where they intend to stay from now on.
Although Kalender and Mirze are very welcoming of Sumbul, Hogir has his doubts at first as to whether to let the woman stay in their small community. These doubts are obviously because of the fear of what Seymen and his sons, who are almost like village-lords, would do if and when they found out that Sumbul was staying with the nomadic gypsies. Mirze casts away such doubts and influences Hogir to support Piroz’s love, and the brother also agrees to let them stay. A marriage ceremony is conducted for them, and the two lovers start to live their days in happiness. But things start to go wrong when one day, a man from the neighboring village comes to Hogir to get a tooth replacement, as Hogir also works as a quack dentist. The man spots Sumbul and grows suspicious as he feels he has seen her somewhere before. Returning to his village, he informs Seymen of this, and together they go over to the graveyard to find Sumbul’s grave empty. Realizing what has happened, Seymen and his sons prepare to ride over to the gypsy settlement in order to punish the daughter as well as the nomads who had dared to house her. Much like the upper class almost everywhere, they would rather prefer their daughter to be dead and buried than happily be in love with someone from the lower social class.
As much as “Heartsong” tells the story of Piroz, it is also equally about the failed love of Mirze and Dilo, who unfortunately could never unite during their lifetime. Perhaps Mirze even knows that his beloved is dead, but he does not want to believe it and still pines for his lover. Unable to control the man’s frequent escapes from their settlement, Hogir consults Kalender for help, who then comes up with an idea to keep Mirze distracted. He makes a life-sized doll out of straw and sews eyes and a face into it, and the doll is then placed in the middle of a small straw hut. Hogir tells Mirze that Dilo has returned to their village, but with a sickness, because of which Mirze can only look at her from a distance. Neither can Dilo talk to him, nor can he get too close to his lover, which would instantly kill her. Desperate to express his love in any way, Mirze agrees with the rules and sits at a distance from the hut and talks and sings to the doll for days. One night, as everyone else sleeps, Mirze cannot hold himself back any longer and goes over to his Dilo, only to realize the ploy that had been played against him. The man is shocked and saddened, but then decides to keep believing in the delusion. He takes the straw doll along with him, as if it really is his lover, and goes over to the top of the hill where he had kept dug up two graves side by side, one with Dilo’s name and one with his own. There he lays the doll down, and himself lies down beside it, believing that he and his beloved were passing on to death together. For all this while, the gypsy village had woken up to find Mirze and the doll missing, and they had also been informed that Seymen and his sons were already out on the road looking for the gypsy settlement. Hogir sends his son to the spot of the grave, knowing that his father would probably be there, and the young boy does find Mirze lying there and intervenes in his plan of waiting till death. Hearing of the impending danger to his family and friends, Mirze returns with Dilo’s doll and now asks everyone else to pack up their things and leave before Seymen arrives. Helpless and without any other choice, everyone in the camp is ready to leave, and both Piroz and Sumbul try to convince him to move with them. But Mirze stays firm in his decision, as he wants to give his all to protect his son and his dare to be with someone he loves, something that the man could not do in his own life.’
‘Heartsong’ Ending Explained: What Happens To Mirze, Piroz, And Sumbul?
As Piroz and the rest of the gypsy settlement cross a nearby river on a big raft, getting away from their last camp location, the villainous Seymen and his two sons arrive on horseback at the now empty camp. Instead of the people they were looking for, they are greeted by Mirze and a straw doll beside him. Seymen understands what has happened and threatens Mirze to disclose where his son has gone. But the old man plays his cello and sings a love song in his last and heartfelt attempt to make Seymen understand the true meaning of love, which knows no boundaries of social difference. Seymen keeps threatening with his gun ready in his hand, but Mirze still sings in the face of a gun pointed at him. Finally, Seymen shoots the man dead and goes away from the place, and the sound of the gunshot reaches Piroz on the raft. He decides that no matter what his fate is, he wants to go back to bury his father, and the others agree to this. They return and carry Mirze’s body to the grave, where they lay him down, and they do not forget the straw doll representing Dilo. Out of respect for the man’s belief, they put the doll in the grave beside Mirze’s and are about to walk away when the mourning Sumbul seems to hear the cello being played from inside the grave. She turns and starts to sing, and is joined by the others too, when they look on with happy disbelief as Mirze and Dilo, in flesh and blood, climb out of their graves, singing, and dancing, and together they go away towards the setting sun on the horizon.
It seems the director has put an almost magic-realist end to “Heartsong,” perhaps in rhythm with Dom, or gypsy, culture, and belief. To someone like me, not too aware of this cultural representation, the enchanting ending signifies Mirze and Dilo’s eternal love that finally unites them only after their death. Their union is also enabled by the strong and unending union of Piroz and his supportive wife, Sumbul. “Heartsong” perhaps sets out to give us a number of reminders about life and society, but the loudest chord that resonates is that love indeed knows no bounds; it is sometimes as easy-flowing as singing along to the same tune.
“Heartsong” is a 2022 Drama Comedy film written and directed by Soner Caner.