Surkh Chandni is a show that has taken viewers by interest and shock since the time the teasers hit television screens. While exploring the motivation behind acid attacks and the mindset that provokes individuals to behave like this, Surkh Chandni wins in how it takes the power away from the attacker and focuses on the survivor. In Aida’s (Sohai Ali Abro) story, she was set to marry Amaan (Osmaan Khalid Butt), the love of her life, when Jawad (Asad Siddiqui) took “revenge” for his rejection by throwing acid in her face on her wedding day. What has followed since that has been Aida’s recover, not only for the physical scars, but also the emotional scars left behind.
Aida is taken in for surgery in episode 5 and it’s during Aida’s surgery that Amaan and Jawad get into an argument. Jawad, provoking Amaan into a fight by casting doubt on Aida’s character, does not show any remorse or shame – in fact, Jawad sneaks into Aida’s room immediately post-surgery and threatens her, not with her own life, but with Amaan’s if she tells anyone about his involvement. Jawad is truly a terrible character as in this moment, he tells Aida that watching her in pain gives him immense joy and pleasure. Jawad seems to be a psychopath in the true sense of the word, as he does not understand right from wrong on any level. On the other end, Amaan plays the faithful, dependent fiancé, ever-loving towards Aida, but also playing the role of son to Aida’s parents in supporting them.
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Hoping you all watched and felt the episodes of the play last night. We as artists cannot physically change the world but we can bring attention to things the world actually needs to talk and worry about. All we can do is do our job with complete honesty. I cannot even put into words the terror I felt. In the face of this evil.. each time we did those scenes or when I heard those stories. #surkhchandni . . . . Every Tuesday 08:00-10:00 PM on @arydigital.tv.
When Aida arrives home, Mukhtar (Hassan Ahmed) and Shumaila (Mansha Pasha) get into an argument with her, as Mukhtar has been influenced by Shumaila into believing Aida has had an affair with someone – why else would a man throw acid on her face? And while the logic is weak, what really drives home this point is that so many South Asian girls are confronted with situations like this, situations in which the words of others matter more than the feelings of a family member, specifically female family members.
In this episode, we are exposed to a new plan of Jawad’s – a plan he is concocting with Shumaila to marry Aida and torture her on a daily basis. Jawad tells Shumaila that he loves seeing fear in Aida’s eyes, to which Shumaila responds “Bade shaitaan ho” playfully (You’re such a devil). These scenes are very telling regarding Shumaila and Jawad’s internal goodness – or complete lack of it. Jawad continues to threaten Aida at home, Aida living in fear of his actions. When Amaan brings over his Rishta and the families begin discussing the marriage, Aida rejects it. Amaan, visibly hurt, goes to speak to Aida where she informs him of her emotional battle and how she does not want to drag him into her mess. Amaan does his best to support Aida as much as she will let him, but ultimately leaves, dejected.
Shumaila has made it her mission to get Aida out of her house, one way or another. A particularly nasty character, Shumaila’s motives for her behavior do not do the story justice – a mother herself to a little girl, Shumaila comes off as an absolutely nasty woman without a conscience. Shumaila preps her young daughter to act terrified when Aida comes into the room, telling the child that Aida will take her room from her if she doesn’t do so. That night, her plan is carried out, painting a negative image of Aida in Mukhtar’s eyes, and the following morning, Shumaila informs Rukhsana (Lubna Aslam) that she has kept a separate plate and mug for Aida in order to keep her “germs” away from the family. Shumaila is a character that becomes more frustrating and difficult to understand as the show progresses.
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Presenting a powerful poetry piece by Ali Imran written for #SurkhChandni & dedicated to the indomitable spirit of acid attack survivors. Through unimaginable suffering, societal apathy, lack of government support & proper rehabilitation, and abandonment you have persevered. You became warriors when you never should have had to. Your lives & stories are an inspiration. @sohaialiabroofficial @saminahumayunsaeed @sanashahnawaz #ShahidShafaat #AsmaNabeel
Towards the end of the episode, Aida confides in her mother over Jawad and his being the attacker. Rukhsana is taken aback by this revelation and jumps up to tell her husband until Aida stops her and swears her to secrecy. Of course, in Pakistani households, this does not hold and Rukhsana confides in Amaan’s mother about knowing who the attacker is. It is assumed at this point that Amaan has overheard the entire conversation.
Surkh Chandni does a great job of keeping viewers on their toes with little surprises inbuilt in each episode. Jawad’s crime is unraveling quickly and while this is great for viewers, it’s difficult to understand how the rest of the story will play out. Regardless, Surkh Chandni is a hit with viewers, eager to see Aida grow as a strong individual in spite of her circumstances. Some stories pull viewers in emotionally and the audience is rooting for Aida and her happiness in the future. How will Aida get revenge? How will Jawad be punished? How will Amaan convince Aida to marry him? These are all questions the audience is eager to get answers to.