Sana Shahnawaz and Samina Humayun Saeed — who have given hits like Mann Mayal, Sadqay Tumhare and have made issue-based plays like Khuda Mera Bhi Hai and Iltija — are producing yet another socially relevant drama under their banner Next Level Entertainment. Titled Surkh Chandni, the play featuring Sohai Ali Abro, Sami Khan, and Asad Siddiqui in lead, intends to portray the journey of an acid attack victim after she has been subjected to a heinous crime.
Sohai’s last venture was the critically acclaimed movie Motorcycle Girl and with this drama she is hoping to push herself more out of her comfort zone. Speaking to Something Haute, the actress admitted that she had her reservations when she first heard the idea.
“The story seemed very challenging to me and I was scared and doubtful about opting for it. The reason was that it is a highly sensitive subject which should be addressed appropriately and executed with thought and deliberation. I have noticed that stories highlighting social issues are sometimes considered preachy or boring by the audiences,” she said, adding that she really loved the script and accepted it later because it challenged her.
“As an actor I am always interested in doing a project whether it’s a film or a TV play which adds something to the society or brings about a change. What motivates me about this role is the story of a girl who wants to find her identity again after an acid attack. The role pushes me out of my comfort zone and that’s when the scope of performance expands,” the actress shared.
When asked why she chose to do a drama after her last movie’s success, Sohai unequivocally negates the notion of comparing the two mediums. “As an actor I am hungry for good roles and worthwhile stories. Honestly, I was offered a few films but none of them were promising enough to interest me. I believe it is one thing to imagine a tale, however, its right execution is a different story altogether. We only have a handful of directors in Pakistan who know what they are doing,” she said.
Talking about the physical aspect of her character, the Motorcycle Girl actress said that she has worked on her appearance and certain nuances. “I rely on a certain method; I can’t relate to the pain that an acid victim would feel but I think about the traumatic challenges in order to get the hang of it. We have already done almost eight look tests for this character. Most importantly, I trust my director, Shahid Shafaat’s approach and attention to details,” Sohai explained.
Written by Asma Nabeel, the cast of also includes Mansha Pasha, Hassan Ahmed and Lubna Aslam and it will telecast on ARY Digital. Producer Sana Shahnawaz shared with Something Haute that the story deals with real-life incidents which we keep hearing about. “It’s a message-oriented play which revolves around how a simple rejection ruins the life of a girl. Acid attack victims aren’t just physically burned, but there is a whole new phase of rejection, embarrassment and shame awaiting them,” she said.
The team also met Massarat Misbah and will shoot few scenes at the Smile Again Foundation. Sana also spoke highly about Massarat’s efforts. “Our society always blames the survivor. Some of these girls aren’t accepted by their own families and they have to take refuge in shelter homes. Society is so insensitive towards their condition that upon encounters usually people look the other way. I feel that Massarat Misbah is doing a highly commendable job by providing support to these abandoned souls,” she expressed.
She also revealed that the play is already on set and they have shot for two days. “We took a short break for look tests as the journey encompasses different phases of a victim’s life – including pre and post-attack stage, gradual changes in burns and scars. We had to make sure that they look as close to reality as possible. Shooting will resume from Monday,” She asserted.
Sana and Samina are currently also working on another mega project titled Alif featuring Hamza Ali Abbasi, Sajal Aly and Ahsan Khan to name a few. We asked Sana how she manages to balance the two serials. “Indeed production is a tough job but I don’t consider it work. I take it as my passion and enjoy challenging myself so it was a conscious decision to work on another big project simultaneously. Also, it is a story that’s needed to be told,” she said.