Anyone looking for a pleasant way to wind down during Ramzan won’t be disappointed in Suno Chanda.
This Hum TV serial is as light as air, a bubble of fun and romance that just skims the surface of the troubled waters that threaten to burst its airy rise.
Arsalan (Farhan Saeed) and Ajiya (Iqra Aziz) are polar opposites. He is a very laid back, traditional Punjabi munda who has no interest in bettering himself. She, on the other hand, is an ambitious, career-oriented young woman who is desperate to study business in London. Forced into a Nikkah at a young age by their dying grandfather, they fight like cat and dog, desperate to break the chains that bind them.
As the date for their rukhsati looms they push one another to break the marriage off. Their unrelenting bickering is largely ignored by their family and their parents happily plan for the final reception. In a last-ditch attempt at freedom, they put aside their differences and hatch a number of plots, manipulating their respective parents into hating each other. While their plan is successful, Arsal begins to wonder if he can really live without Ajiya?
Forced into a Nikkah at a young age by their dying grandfather, Arsal and Ajiya fight like cat and dog, desperate to break the chains that bind them.
While this story is nothing new, what has breathed life into the drama is the fresh pairing of Farhan Saeed and Iqra Aziz. Their on-screen chemistry is fabulous and every scene between them is worth watching. Farhan Saeed has grown leaps and bounds as an actor and whether he is the bored, resentful son shooting Punjabi one-liners at his family or the earnest lover trying to persuade his reluctant bride that he might be a good bet, he never fails to capture the audience's interest.
Writer Saima Akram Chaudhry has woven a sweet, well-plotted story that uses all the usual comic devices and family clichés to poke gentle fun at its characters and their foibles. Yes, it's a familiar story but director Aehsun Talish has kept the action going at a swift pace, and the audience is hooked.
A well-cast drama
Comedy is not as easy as it looks. It’s a delicate balance of timing and intensity that can often land an actor on the wrong side of irritating and though Iqra Aziz seemed a little over the top in some scenes, she has handled the feisty, determined parts of Ajiya’s personality well.
The confusion and mistrust between the leads and the subtle change in their feelings as they begin to understand what they really want have been handled exceptionally well by both actors and the director. This skilful presentation has made their changing situation much more believable and given this story an unexpected emotional depth for such an easy, breezy show.
Those well-written scenes of fights, make-ups and break-ups are the life of the serial and remind me of the best of Aunn Zara or Dayar e Dil.
Suno Chanda has a formidable cast of talented actors surrounding Arsal and Ajiya, including Nadia Afghan, Farhan Aly Agha, Farah Shah, Sohail Sameer, Tara Mehmood and Mizna Waqas. There have been scenes full of sheer bluster but for the most part the older cast has been a wonderful foil for the younger generation.
Nadia Afghan and Farhan Saeed, in particular, make quite a funny pair, never sparing each other or anyone else’s feelings in their quest to for plain speaking. The whole story is firmly anchored by veteran actors Sameena Ahmed and Syed Mohammad Ahmed as the not quite older couple whose wise words bring some sense to the proceedings.
The other couple trying to catch Arsal and Ajiya’s interest is played with a lot of charm by Nabeel Zuberi and Mashal Khan. Although their main purpose seems to be distraction, both actors have played their parts well beyond being merely decorative.
The most tiresome and unnecessary track has been that of Billo, the resident femme fatale who spends her time flirting with Arsal’s father or Phupa. Although she provides reason for a lot of laugh-out-loud one-liners from Arsal and the women of the house, I wish our writers would think of something more positive during Ramazan.
Is Suno Chanda the best thing to watch on TV right now?
This season's dramas have been particularly lackluster and uninspiring, but most worrying are the takeaways from a lot of the top-rated dramas like Khaani, Ishq Tamasha and Khamoshi. For the record, violent, angry young men are not romantic, kidnappers are not good people, and there isn’t any virtue in silent suffering or surrendering to your abusers.
Suno Chanda stands in stark contrast to these disturbing trends with a hero who is working to change his wife’s mind and a heroine who is not a mindless pushover.
With one short but sweet episode every day, Suno Chanda has stepped beyond its description as just a pleasant time pass and has its audience nicely wound up in the resolution of the Arsal and Ajiya’s simple but so relatable romance.
The only criticism might be this drama's blind determination not to touch on any heavy subject matter. It determinedly avoids any hard questions or meaningful reflection during the holy month but the one thing it does perhaps inadvertently emphasise is the need for consent in any relationship. Arsal and Ajiya may be nominally married but unless they accept each other, that relationship is a line on a piece of paper, nothing more.