Suno Chanda: Entertainment or Cultural Assassination?

HUM TV’s Record Breaking Ramadan Special

The last decade has seen a rise in the demand for Ramadan specific entertainment in Pakistan, especially on local entertainment channels such as HUM TV. Every year during Ramadan these channels air TV serials centered on the lives of a different family showcasing its joys and trials on national television, as the characters on-screen join the public in fasting and overcoming those problems.

Such series typically reach their climax closer to Eid with the final episode being broadcast on chand raat (The night before Eid associated with monthly cycle of the moon). One such series is HUM TV’s Suno Chanda. What seemed to be a promising new series advocating family values and the struggle for ones right to a good education seemed to fail miserably.

Let’s keep in mind that Pakistan’s culture like its national language is a mixture and amalgamation of multiple languages and cultures. Primarily it consists of the British, Indian and Islamic elements. Over the years we have started to become increasingly more western in the hopes that we would seem modern, classy and educated. However, ironic as it may seem all of this is far from the truth. The image being portrayed in the Pakistani dramas especially the one aired in Ramadan tend to be a chaotic mess.

Although HUM TV did everything in their power to make it a commercial success, which it was since they launched a second season this Ramadan, the series failed to impress many as their creative team failed in keeping intact our rich cultural heritage of good values and upbringing. So, while both the seasons give us a glimpse into the lives of the central family, it leaves a bitter taste of disappointment.

Suno Chanda’s plot primarily revolves around the lives of its central characters, Arsal and Ajiya [or Jiya as she is mostly called], first cousins living together in a joint family system and while, everything about the family seems alright; the two constantly fight with each other. Season one focused on how the two hated each other and threw tantrums because they didn’t want to get married, to trying to wreak havoc to the family system by teaming up with each other and attempting to break up Arsal’s parents’ marriage and then lastly deciding that they love each other and want to be together like their elders had originally chosen.

The season finally ended with the two getting married, out of choice and a “new found” love for each other which seems to be dying a slow death in the second installment of the series. As can be seen in season 2, both sets of parents often remark, “they were behaving as if they would die if they didn’t get married but, look at them now”.

The second season picks up where the previous season ended, with their family anxiously waiting for the walima [reception] ceremony of Arsal and Jiya. However, from the first episode they pick up on all the negative traits as well. Arsal and Jiya constantly fight like cats and dogs; with every passing episode their immature and irrational behaviour reaches new heights. In fact, they have about 3 fights, at least, within a matter of the first two episodes. Thereby, we at Baaghi TV have come up with a list of reasons why Suno Chanda is not appropriate for any generation.

 

Constant State of Conflict

In every episode of this series, one fight seems to be a must. Sometimes the audience can be treated with multiple clashes per episode. Not necessarily between Arsal and Ajiya, but between other characters as well. For instance, Chachi Nageena’s constant bickering with Perveen [or Pari], Jalal Phupha with his in-laws, Joji with Perveen, Joji with Jalal Phupa to name a few.

 

Always Talk about Breaking-up

Every few episodes the two protagonists must talk about going their separate ways. Either directly or indirectly, they must hint at separation / divorce such as, the incident immediately after their walima. Ajiya Nazakat Ali announces during her on-going walima that she has been accepted to appear in a renowned institute in London and that it has always been her dream to study abroad. This starts a battle of wits within the whole family including guests who have apparently come over to attend said wedding. Teams form and start a motion of for / against on whether Jiya should be allowed to leave. This leads to further hostility between the characters of the two leads, Iqra Aziz and Farhan Saeed, as well as both sets of parents.

Immature & Childish Behaviour

So far we have covered how there is a new skirmish every other second within the series, now let’s focus on the level of immaturity. Basically, when Ajiya announces the news about her admission, every one including Jiya herself, forget that she and Arsal can go to London together but, it wouldn’t be Suno Chanda if the writers wouldn’t drag this issue a few episodes. How then would they be able to meet their target of prolonging the series till the end of Ramadan?

As is usual for these characters, their issues are an unending nuisance, they throw tantrums, give way to ill feelings and eventually reach the conclusion that it was never that big an issue. However, despite this, many viewers felt dissatisfied and irritated at the blatant display of irrationality and immaturity.

 

Making a Mockery of Marriage

Through this series and its ridiculous characters, HUM TV and Suno Chanda, are making a mockery of the institute of marriage and its sacredness in its entirety. The central characters are always downplaying and undermining the fact that they are married. In the local sense of the world they become “bad lehaz” [ill-mannered] so it’s a wonder they even got married in the first place.

Moreover, Ajiya and Arsal even on an individual level are shown to be rude and impolite with each other every chance they get, which is basically the entire series. This reminds us of the classical saying, “chaar din ki chaandni phir andheri raat” or as the popular English reference “four weddings and a funeral” that happiness is short-lived often followed by bad times. In short, Arsal and Jiya’s marriage and their relationship with each other, is nothing short of a short-lived happiness.

 

Ridiculing of Family Values

The cast is in turn making a mockery of living in a joint family system as well as a traditional Pakistani family structure in general with its portrayal of characters such as the inappropriate Jalal Phupha played by Adnan Shah Tipu. His only value in the series is to play a sleazy and clingy uncle who is always flirting with any new female character introduced in the series. In season one he could be seen tastelessly trifling with Billo G who later chooses to marry Shahana’s cousin Joji.  While in season two he chooses to follow around the character of Perveen [also known as Peeno / Pari] in the series. All this is done in front of his wife, their daughter who is also of marriageable age, and his in-laws.

Not only is he an exceptionally nauseating flirt, he is also inquisitive about the happenings of everyone in the family especially Arsal and Jiya. At times he makes us wonder if ever an opportunity presented itself would he even barge into people’s rooms uninvited and add to his persona of being an absolute creep.

 

Over the top Romance

As rightfully pointed out by the douleTarka website:

“Despite our all hopes, after a few episodes, we started realizing that they took the whole Ajiya Arsal fights to [the] next level, I mean at the level which was not even digestible for us. Things got much worse than [our] expectations and all we did was getting irritated by their shouting and throwing things on each other.”

Moreover, with Arsal and Jiya now married HUM TV felt the need to incorporate an element of romance between the young couple, however, we are not sure if it was the right decision because it is a little too much, or as mentioned in doubleTarka’s article “Suno Chanda 2 – Why So Over-acting and Over-romancing?” the series has “another thing that is way more annoying [and that] is their weird romantic scenes” which even the most die-hard Suno Chanda fans cannot digest.

All this romance is a bit too over the top something that most Pakistani viewers are not happy about. It is almost bordering on inappropriate.

Plus there is an awful lot of over-acting. Viewers have not taken to it lightly that the actors seem to be trying too hard to come off as young and cute.

 

Group Wedding… what’s that about?

Then there is that episode with the group wedding. What is that even? Although, it’s a much needed night of festivities that turns into a massive party in the series, in typical Suno Chanda fashion, Jiya runs away from her own walima because she and Arsal end up bickering over her admission in a prestigious London university. While we agree that Arsal’s behaviour is nothing to be appreciated, Jiya also does not handle the situation well.

Love is All Around

And last but not the least, what’s the deal about every character irrespective of their age or circumstances; wanting to get romantically involved with another character. From the old to the young it seems that love is all around, for instance, Agha Jan and Beejan, Nazakat Ali reminiscing with Pari, Jalal Phupha with Pari, Mithu with Maina, and so on.

 

Moreover, apart from the above presented arguments, there are too many mistakes; it is a poorly executed editing job. At points within an episode, Ajiya’s hair is short and wavy with slight curls while in another scene often times the one immediately after, she has long straight hair.

In conclusion, while the TV series Suno Chanda, may have its entertainment factor, it is also a cultural assassination of our values and traditions, it is an attempt to take us away from our roots and make us victims of identity complex. Perhaps HUM TV should take these arguments into consideration and try to keep it as relatable for the Pakistani public as possible.

 

Stay tuned to Baaghi TV for more.

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