The cast of ‘Suno Chanda’. Image Credit: Supplied

‘Appointment television’ just got a new meaning in Pakistan for fans of Urdu dramas as people seem to be enjoying Hum TV’s breezy romantic comedy Suno Chanda.

That is, if the show’s high ratings are anything to go by. The reason is that this “kind of light, fun stuff after a heavy iftar dinner is just what the doctor ordered,” says director Aehsun Talish, talking to Gulf News tabloid!.

The play is supposed to be aired the entire month. “This is a Ramadan-special format,” he adds. “Otherwise, you don’t make dramas that are serialised for just one month.”

According to Talish, the play will finish with an 80-minute long special episode on Eid.

Penned by Saima Akram Chaudhry, a popular novelist turned playwright, Suno Chanda follows an uncomplicated storyline: Arsal and Ajiya, who are cousins, have taken their vows (nikah) but haven’t started living together because the wedding reception is yet to happen. Their folks and an army of relatives are eager to plan the big day, but no one knows that the girl and boy are secretly conspiring to call it off.

Why? Because they can’t stand the sight of each other. What makes each 40-minute episode a delightful watch is a vibrant screenplay, which is aided by multiple tracking shots; funny characterisations; loud banter that the two leads easily get into; and lots of petty squabbles among the sharp-tongued, jealous ladies in the family. It’s a household where a host of cousins and uncles and aunts from out of town are crashing at, eventually leading to confusion and disarray — typical of a situational comedy.

“The purpose is to bring smiles to the viewers’ faces,” says Talish. “We didn’t want to do slapstick or anything outrageously funny; we have a lot of that showing on TV already.”

A proud scion of Agha Talish — one of the most respected film actors of yore — Talish started out as an assistant director on a TV serial back in 1995. Later, he launched his own production house, named after his late father. He has made several serials since, including the cult Alif Allah Aur Insaan (2017), and a few telefilms here and there. He’s also dabbled in acting, though his prime focus has always been to wield the show behind the camera.

He has another drama serial, titled Tabeer, currently on air on Hum TV, which is diametrically opposite to Suno Chanda in terms of both format and genre. While Suno is light-hearted, Tabeer is a tearjerker.

Interestingly, both boast strong female characters in the lead that are portrayed by Iqra Aziz. Her belligerent and mercurial Ajiya in Suno Chanda is a perfect foil to the mild-spoken yet firm Arsal, played with utmost ease by former Jal vocalist turned actor Farhan Saeed. Incidentally, Saeed has also sung the play’s title track, which has lyrics by Talish and music by Naveed Nashad.

Suno Chanda also has a competent supporting lineup that includes Nadia Afghan, Farhan Ali Agha, Sohail Sameer, Samina Ahmed, Mohammad Ahmad, and Adnan Shah Tipu. Child actor Sami Khan makes a confident debut.