“Chauraha” is a story viewers are familiar with on our television screens, but the treatment is what sets it apart. Written by Edison Idrees Masih and directed by Aehsun Talish, “Chauraha” presents an interesting tale between a perpetrator and his victim. Starring Mikaal Zulfiqar and Madiha Imam in lead roles, they are supported by Saba Hameed, Behroze Sabzwari, Asad Siddiqui, Shabbir Jan, Ayesha Gul and others.
In episode 29, Zoya and Arsal’s marriage is set to move forward while Junaid continues to grapple with his guilt. Arsal, Zoya and Junaid are all struggling with the present circumstance, Arsal and Zoya misunderstanding each other and learning to trust one another while Junaid simply wants forgiveness. What is praise-worthy about “Chauraha” is how well-written the characters are while interacting with one another, namely the lead characters. Junaid (Mikaal Zulfiqar) feels terribly for what he has done to Zoya (Madiha Imam) and while marrying Zoya has been a thought he’s had as a way to rectify his actions, he also does not stand in her way when she chooses to get engaged to Arsal (Asad Siddiqui). He not only respects her decision, but participates fully in her events. Junaid is a torn man and finds himself being torn up inside with guilt, wanting more than anything for Zoya to simply forgive him. And while it’s commendable to see a once-villainous character written in this way, genuinely attempting to change himself and become a better person, he is still accountable for his past crimes. And so, when Zoya constantly refuses him that forgiveness, as an audience, we feel proud of her. She is not an angel who feels she must compromise on her self-respect now that she’s living under the same roof as Junaid. She recognizes how badly he has destroyed her life and withholds that forgiveness from him. One thing that has been fairly clear from the beginning is that a love story between Junaid and Zoya would be most inappropriate and it’s comforting to see that the team behind “Chauraha” have steered away from that angle – at least until now. Whether they head down that path in coming episodes or not is unclear (and would be disappointing), but up until episode 29, the narrative has been moving along nicely.
However, what is not praise-worthy is Zoya’s attitude towards Arsal. Arsal has, at every step, supported Zoya despite his mother being vocally against her. Arsal has protected Zoya and stood by her through it all. On one level, it’s true that Arsal cares about what others think – but this is a normal part of society and keeping a relationship private (in regards to Zoya crying in the workplace). Does this really mean that Zoya cannot rely on him or that Arsal is a coward? It feels almost crass to label Arsal this way when he has been an upstanding guy and his only flaw is having a loud, rude, hateful mother.
Mikaal Zulfiqar’s performance has been the highlight of “Chauraha” up until now, as his character is so layered and has offered him a chance to perform – and he performs well. Madiha Imam and Asad Siddiqui also perform well, while Saba Hamid and Behroze Sabzwari offer strong support. “Chauraha” isn’t a perfect show and does tend to include the melodrama and stretched out sequences, but it is winning with strong writing (credit to Edison Idrees) and presenting an engaging story without whitewashing criminals (so far).