Showbiz

Suno Chanda 2 is pretty funny – if you don’t think too much

Suno Chanda 2 is pretty funny - if you don't think too much
Suno Chanda 2 is pretty funny – if you don’t think too much

It’s Ramazan which means the wildly popular Suno Chanda is back for a second season.

Last season fans tuned in nightly to see sworn enemies Arsal (Farhan Saeed) and Jiya (Iqra Aziz) fight their way to love while living under one roof with a motley crew of a stereotypically zany joint family.

This season begins with the now-married Arsal and Jiya waking up the morning after their wedding with guns ablazing because Arsal spent the night snoring and is refusing to give Jiya her moun dekhai.

Some things are already refreshingly different this season. Farhan Saeed’s OST has been reworked. There are new romances and new characters (including a kite-flying, hookah-smoking Punjabi khala). And, to the utter joy of #Arjiya fans, the couple has a lot more chemistry-loaded, lovey dovey scenes.

Other than that, so far episodes are flowing painfully formulaically.

Let’s examine the evidence:

Jiya returns this season in all her overly dramatic and painfully shrill glory, which is a shame because in the past year Aziz has proven herself to be an incredibly versatile actress (think Ranjha Ranjha Kardi).

Like Bushra Ansari or Mehwish Hayat, Aziz is that rare breed of Pakistani female actor with the capacity to outshine their male co-star, if given the chance, especially when it comes to feisty one-liners and comically loaded facial expressions.

Instead of harnessing Aziz’s true potential, the writers have once again left Jiya with all the screechy, cutesy responses to her on-screen husband’s clearly more funny and fleshed out script. Unfortunately, not allowing women to be truly witty and funny but instead writing them to be dramatic, reactive and loud is the trend for Pakistani serial writers.

We are seeing it once again in Suno Chanda 2 show writers as well as other comedy serials like Bulbulay, which has spent years wasting Ayesha Omar’s talent by relegating her to the role of the unnecessarily klutzy Khoobsurat.

Whereas last season Jiya’s one saving grace had been her ambitions (she initially refused to get married until Arsal was onboard with her continuing her education overseas), this season it appears that this part of Jiya’s personality has quickly evaporated in the aftermath of her rukhsati.

Arsal’s issue when it comes to Jiya continuing her education is a confusing turn of events because the previous season was premised on Jiya wanting to continue her education and Arsal initially not agreeing but then coming around after realising he was in love with Jiya and it was important to her.

This season Jiya, who got accepted to school last season, finally gets her student visa, only to have Arsal do a complete about-face on the very thing that he changed about himself in order for Jiya to marry him.

That mere days into their marriage Arsal is back to his old views on how a wife’s place is with him in his home (preferably, in his kitchen) is my real problem with Suno Chanda as a franchise.

The show’s insistence on forcing this young, seemingly modern millennial couple play done-to-death, traditional gender roles is reductive and dull, plain boring, and, insulting to the intelligence of us, the audience.

Even the show takes great pains to juxtapose its city-dwelling, English-spewing characters against their village-dwelling counterparts; the amount of patriarchal, misogyny flowing through every episode is both confusing and crude.

For instance, just like last season, all the husbands on the show are still one sports car away from midlife crises. None of them seem to do regular middle-aged men things like, say, going to work, reading the newspaper, or, going for an evening stroll with their wives.

Instead, these men spend their days trying to dodge nagging wives, worrying about imaginary illnesses, or, in the case of Jalal (Adnan Shah Tipu), brazenly and aggressively flirting with every single, middle-aged woman unfortunate enough to cross his path.

And despite the family having a matriarchal head, Bi jaan, the show writers insist on selling out to the antiquated, patriarchal notion that women living under one roof can’t just simply get along but instead spend their days hating and berating one another.

For instance, instead of setting her creepy husband straight, Masooma (Tara Mahmood) spends her days name-calling and slut-shaming whichever woman her husband has decided to attack with his advances. And even though their children just got married mere days before, Naeema (Farah Shah) and Shahana (Nadia Afghan) continue to complain and gripe about one another. Almost always the female cast is shot fighting or backbiting in the kitchen or at the dinner table. And ‘churail’ remains their descriptor of choice for any single, middle-aged woman in their midst.

The show’s insistence on forcing this young, seemingly modern millennial couple play done-to-death, traditional gender roles is reductive and dull, plain boring, and, insulting to the intelligence of us, the audience.

Interestingly, in real life, the show’s overbearingly misogynistic and paternalistic vibes are not lost on the young and woke cast. In a recent interview with Something Haute, Farhan Saeed was quick to point out that although, in real life, he’s a funny guy like his character Arsal, he doesn’t actually share any of Arsal’s ‘stay at home and obey your husband’ type of regressive, outdated values.

Does this mean there’s hope yet for this season to shift the focus away from mindnumbingly misogynistic messages? If the first few episodes are any indication, then probably no.

We’re only a handful of episodes into a month-long season, but already the primary narrative driving this season’s plot has been for Jiya to ‘listen to your husband, respect your husband, dress nice for your husband’. And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with preaching this message to the viewers (after all, looking nice for your spouse and listening to and respecting them are all pretty sensible things in a successful marriage), it’s a frustrating message to send when it’s being aimed at only one party — the woman — in the marriage.

And the whole thing feels that much more problematic when it’s further paired with the message that there’s only one way to be a wife: at home and ready to obey your husband or out there in the world in the pursuit of education and a sense of self.

Of course, there are many of us – myself included – who will continue to tune into Suno Chanda 2 this Ramazan not because we’re looking for a reflection of our relationships or our personal convictions and values, but because, after a long day of work, school or fasting we want some lighthearted, mindless, comic relief.

For those of us who are after a mindlessly zany and kooky show, Suno Chanda is the right vibe. But for more PC viewers who are easily frustrated by shameless misogyny, it’s probably best to turn off the telly now because it seems like the misogynistic, patriarchal vibes are here to stay for the season.

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