26 December 2015 | l_rawjalaurence
Slapstick Comedy with a Sentimental End in the Tradition of HABABAM SINIFI
In 1975 the comedy HABABAM SINIFI (THE CLASS OF CHAOS) was a huge hit spawning a clutch of sequels and consolidating the star status of actors such as Kemal Sunal.
ÖĞRENCI İŞLERİ (STUDENT AFFAIRS) runs in precisely the same tradition. Harassed principal Kısmet (Murat Akkoyunlu) tries to keep his school going in the face of a hostile takeover bid from his brother İsmet (Fırat Tanış), who wants to knock the building down and build a tower block instead. Eventually the two of them agree to a bet; if Kismet wins, he will have sufficient funds from İsmet for a specific project; if İsmet wins, he can knock the school down. The bet depends on the outcome of university examination results.
Kısmet's main problem is that his only class of learners are repeaters, who have spent many years trying and failing to pass exams. Spending most of their time dedicated to pleasure, they continue to do so, until İsmet is imprisoned on a trumped-up charge. The learners rally around, obtain a higher pass-rate than the learners working for İsmet and ensure the survival of the school.
Interwoven in this sentimental tale is a love-story involving spoilt rich girl Biricik (Begün Öner) and poor learner Umut (Bora Akkaş), and another sentimental strand involving Umut's paraplegic sister.
The film's resolution is a familiar one; what makes it interesting is the ideological message it reinforces beneath its comic structure. Even the laziest learners are capable of reforming themselves, if they respect their educators; and in a meritocracy where exam results count, the number of learners passing the university exam is of central importance. It doesn't matter whether you understand much about life; so long as you acquire the information necessary to pass the exam, then the institution will respect you.
Educators are also people to be revered; even if they are not well paid, and have to spent their lives looking after reluctant adolescents, they assume a quasi-divine status. Kısmet reveres his father - who founded the school; and the learners come to revere Kısmet.
Structurally speaking the film is a ragbag of jokes, most of them weak and/or familiar, but ÖĞRENCİ İŞLERİ is still a powerful endorsement of the value of education even in a fragmented society.