Yes, it’s understood that in a show about acid attack victims, the content will be heavy and the victim’s struggle will be intense for the viewer. It is reasonable to expect viewers to realize that Surkh Chandni will not be a light-hearted show. Rather, Surkh Chandni should be a show that allows the audience to see Aida (Sohai Ali Abro) pick up the pieces after the acid attack by Jawad (Asad Siddiqui) and learn how to cope with what has happened. We should see the psychological effects, her mental healing, her physical healing, her emotional healing. But who wants to see this? Misery and suffering is the name of the game, human ugliness at its peak and of course, this must be shoved down the viewers throats at all costs – otherwise how will the viewer truly feel Aida’s sacrifice, power and journey when she finally does begin to get back on her own feet? Of course, this is all sarcasm, because the last thing a viewer wants to see in a hard-hitting show is melodrama. Please keep it real.
So far, we have witnessed Aida face an acid attack at the hands of Jawad, who she had rejected openly. Post attack, maybe Aida deserves some healing and happiness? No? Okay. We watch Aida shunned by her own family. Aida is made to live in a separate quarter (read: Servant quarters). Why? Who knows? Despite Aida’s parents owning their own home, they behave like tenants and allow Mukhtar (Hassan Ahmed) and Shumaila (Mansha Pasha) to take over, trusting their son and daughter-in-law much more than necessary. Aida is repeatedly shamed, treated like a servant, put in jail for attempted murder…..name it and Aida has faced it. Time for some happiness? Maybe.
Aida and Amaan (Osman Khalid Butt) get married after Aida is released from jail and it finally looks as though Aida will be able to live a happy life with a supportive husband. What a relief. Wait – don’t enjoy it too much, it’s about to end. Amaan’s neighbors are the nosiest busybodies ever seen and of course, they have an issue with Aida and her face, because, well….”character.” Unsupported in their own neighborhood, Amaan and his family begin to struggle socially. In the last episode, Jawad and his friends get into a fight with Amaan and Jawad hits Amaan on the head with a cement block. But Amaan survives. Time for happiness now? That will be a big, fat N-O.
In this latest episode, Mukhtar has been sent out for work by Jawad and in his absence, Shumaila tethers on being borderline abusive towards Mukhtar’s mother. She treats her like a servant and threatens her with homelessness on more than one occasion. She utilizes Mukhtar’s absence to spend time with Jawad and becomes increasingly self-absorbed, even neglecting her child for Jawad. This situation would be pitiable, as Jawad is the sort of man no woman should end up with, but Shumaila is willingly putting herself in this situation with little resistance.
Amaan begins to recover, but Aida is torn apart over the fact that Amaan was hurt because of her. She makes the decision to leave Amaan’s life and runs away, deciding that this decision is best for everyone. Amaan’s mother does her best to find Aida before Amaan is released, but to no avail. Despite getting close a couple of times, Aida is determined to stay out of sight. Amaan makes a recovery and comes home to find Aida missing. He is at a loss as to what to do to help her. Aida is not out for a joyride, as the misery is real. Aida is seen starving, being fed scraps, begging on the streets and unable to even afford a train ticket to leave the city. But for what reason?
This is the bottom line: Is this misery necessary or is this just the requirement of the show to fulfill the “filler” episodes, the episodes that will run Aida down so badly to the point that she herself realizes she needs to rise from it? Whatever the reason, acid attack victims face a lot of problems, but the situation displayed here is a bit extreme. One hopes that in the coming episodes, Aida realizes that “self-sacrifice” is futile and she is stronger with the support of Amaan – and vice versa.