What makes “Chalawa” captivating is how, rather than borrowing from Hollywood themes and jump scares, it is a story based on the legends we have grown up hearing in South Asian folklore. Of course, much of it comes directly from religion, but the urban legends that have been passed down through generations (such as not visiting graveyards at night) are there as well – and that’s what makes this story gripping. It’s as though it’s a piece of our (traumatizing) childhood. Starring Naveen Waqar, Samina Ahmed, Naveed Raza, Ali Ansari and Noor Khan, “Chalawa” has been written by Shahid Nizami and directed by Najaf Bilgrami.
In episode 4, Daadi (Samina Ahmed) and young Savera now arrive back home – with great difficulty – without Savera’s “dost” (friend. However, immediately it becomes evident that the job was not done and Savera’s “dost” continues to be present in some form. At first, just a voice, he asks to be befriended once again by Savera and when she agrees, he re-enters the home. Savera is the sort of character one wants to give a good spanking to as she misses her “friend” so deeply that she is willing to put her own family at risk for him. Within days, the duo are back to their old antics, doing homework together and just giving an overall “sinister” ambiance in the house. This doesn’t go unnoticed by Mahnoor (Naveen Waqar).
Naveen Waqar is wonderful in this role. She does a great job moving back and forth between the innocent, protective Mahnoor vs. the sinister version. As Mahnoor believes the problems in their lives have been put to a stop, she spots Gulkand while out – and this time, Savera sees him as well. Daadi suggests to Mahnoor that maybe all of this is about Savera after all and not Mahnoor, leaving Mahnoor further perplexed.
On the personal front, Mahnoor finds herself being pursued by Fawad (Naveed Raza), who seems like a stand-up guy. But will the problems in Mahnoor’s life ever allow her to consider getting married? Unfortunately, the spirits that follow Savera and Mahnoor may not allow this to happen. As Mahnoor allows herself to believe Fawad is a possibility in her future and agrees to marry him, Fawad is confronted (and injured) by the spirit in Mahnoor’s form. Will Fawad run away from Mahnoor after this or will he stand by her side and fight what is plaguing her family? As of right now, Fawad seems like the sort of guy who would stick around – but this isn’t a normal situation and any average, normal person would hit the road running when confronted by murderous spirits.
At school, Savera’s “dost” visits Savera in the classroom and suggests she come see his home. Holding her hands, she is taken not only to see a distant land, but images of two individuals (Noor Khan and Ali Ansari) are also shown, suggesting it’s either a past or a future. Savera is later found passed out, frothing at the mouth. This suggests that Savera is in much more danger than previously suspected and it’s unclear what the situation is exactly with this little boy and Gulkand. This is made even more evident when images of Savera and Mahnoor smiling lovingly at each other are darkened by the image of Gulkand and the little boy glaring at one another. What is the situation with Gulkand? Is he a good presence or an evil presence? He was the gatekeeper at the graveyard, so isn’t he a human character?
Naveen Waqar and Samina Ahmed are the star performers in this show. Can we also give a round of applause to this little child actor playing the “dost”? He is doing an incredible job – of scaring me every time he appears on screen. At present, “Chalawa” is on the right track, giving viewers the sort of content we have been craving – something different and unique. Still, the scene between Savera and her “friend” today, which also foreshadowed Ali Ansari and Noor Khan’s appearances, seemed a bit far-fetched. So one does have to hope the show continues on the path it’s currently on and doesn’t falter towards an illogical path. Give “Chalawa” a try if you aren’t already watching – but be warned, watch it with the lights on!