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Half a century later: about the performer of the role of Mengli in the film “Magtymguly”

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10 September 2021

In 2008, the capital of our state hosted an international conference entitled “Nejmeddin Kubra and the spiritual and cultural world of the East.” Along with the Turkmen, it was attended by scientists from all over the world, studying the origins of the Turkmen culture. Sifting through the speeches of the participants when defining them by sections, our attention was drawn to the thesis of Akhtar Jamal from Pakistan. Speaking about the cultural heritage of the Turkmen people, he noted that in 1969 he was impressed by the feature film “Magtymguly” by the Turkmen film director Alty Karliev. He was literally captivated by the performers of the main characters of this film - the actor Hommat Mullik and the actress Guljan Dovletmuradova. Thanks to this film, he became interested in the life and work of the great Turkmen poet Magtymguly Fragi.

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Surely, theatergoers and film lovers of our country know a lot about the People's Artist of Turkmenistan, laureate of the State Prize of Magtymguly - Hommad Mullik. But the actress Guljan Dovletmuradova, about whom our Pakistani friend wrote enthusiastically, disappeared from viewers after this film. We decided to conduct a journalistic investigation and share information with our readers about the actress, about whom there has been no news for more than half a century. Guljan Dovletmuradova was born in 1948 in the village of Purnuvar, Serdar etrap, Balkan velayat. Nature generously endowed a cheerful girl with big dark eyes and long braids: she was in good athletic shape and had excellent vocal abilities. Therefore, during her school years, she actively participated in amateur performances and sports competitions. In 1965, after graduating with honors from a rural school, Guljan entered the philological faculty of the Turkmen State University. Among her fellow students were the People's Writer of Turkmenistan Orazguly Annayev and the well-known specialist in philology Ogulgerek Shageldiyeva. In the second year of study, an incident occurred that transformed the life of a provincial student. A meeting with assistant film director Alty Karliev was held at the university. He told the students that the master of Turkmen cinema has started filming a new film about the life and work of the poet Magtymguly Fragi and invites everyone to participate in the extras of the film. He also warned that an actress is also being selected for the role of Fragi's beloved, so that pretty students can try themselves in this role. It was extremely interesting to see how a movie was made, so Guljan and her classmates without hesitation, went to the film studio, where the casting was already in full swing. The first day of casting for Guljan and her friends was especially impressive: alive, at arm's length, Alty Karliev, communication with artists, auditions for the role. All this did not fit into their normal life. And although the casting was still going on, eyewitnesses claim that Alty Karliev secretly made his choice from everyone - his sharp-sighted director's gaze focused on Guljan. However, he was in no hurry to state his decision aloud. At that time, and not only at that time, all girls and boys, without exception, wanted to act in films. All the more so in the ones shot by People's Artist of the USSR Alty Karliev, and even more so in the film about Magtymguly and his beloved Mengli. Therefore, girls from different parts of Turkmenistan came to the casting. Everyone saw themselves in the role of Mengli - from professional actresses and students to girls of various professions. The casting continued, and Alty Karliev still kept his choice secret. Ten days after the casting, when the excitement about the event had begun to pass, the filmmaker personally found Guljan at the university and offered her the role of Mengli. Of course, this unexpected offer shocked her. And nevertheless, she agreed to shoot, but on one condition that Alty Karliev himself and others, at that time already well-known artists, approved for different roles in this film, would support her in a completely new and incomprehensible matter for her. The shooting was in full swing. For the credibility of the film, the shooting site chose picturesque places in the Goktepe valley and on the shores of the Caspian Sea, where the poet visited. Guljan was not immediately given the role of Mengli. The seemingly laconic filmmaker actually turned out to be very demanding and was often dissatisfied with the performance of even the most masterful actors, not to mention those who first appeared in front of the camera. But gradually Guljan entered the image of a Turkmen girl who conquered the heart of the great poet, especially since she also grew up in the countryside, and by the way, not far from the place where Mengli herself was born and raised. Guljan's film partners were such outstanding artists as Muhammet Cherkezov, Soyun Amangeldiev, Aman Gurbandurdyev. She was surrounded by the attention of these gifted and famous artists. Next to her one could see young, but already successful actors - Liza Karaeva and Ata Alovov, who in a comradely manner revealed their acting secrets to her. It is impossible not to notice the fact that this film was the debut for Gulnabat Ashirova and Gozel Khadzhieva, who later entered prestigious theater schools in Moscow and became famous theater and film actors. The filming process has ended successfully. Satisfied Alty Karliev thanked all the actors for participating in the film. Some technical work remained until the premiere of the film “Magtymguly”. Ogulhalli Mamieva, the younger sister of Guljan Dovletmuradova, who now lives in the city of Balkanabat, recalls:

- We were all glad that Guljan was filming the role of Mengli. She herself was looking forward to the long-awaited film premiere. To this day, from that film, I have her headscarf and her birthday card. Guljan became the pride of not only our family, but the whole village. But alas! We watched the premiere without her. She passed away very early.

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The film “Magtymguly” won the sympathy of viewers of all ages. At one time, this picture was at the box office of friendly countries, it became the first film telling about the life and work of the great Turkmen poet Magtymguly Fragi. This film, which was included in the golden collection of Turkmen cinema, has not lost its relevance to this day.