Online grooming has been a huge problem worldwide for young girls and parents of young girls. The internet has a dark side and young individuals are easily influenced – this is the story that “Chauraha” aims to tell. Written by Edison Idrees Masih and directed by Aehsun Talish, “Chauraha” stars Mikaal Zulfiqar, Madiha Imam, Bushra Ansari, Saba Hameed, Behroze Sabzwari, Asad Siddiqui, Shabbir Jan, Ayesha Gul and others in prominent roles.
In the first episode, we are introduced to Zoya (Madiha Imam), a spirited, lively girl who lives with her mother, Shireen (Saba Hameed) and her Phupo, Naseem (Bushra Ansari). As an all-woman household living off Naseem’s pension and Shireen’s finances as a teacher, they live a very simple, hand-to-mouth lifestyle. This leaves Zoya constantly wanting for things that her friends see as basic necessities – for example, a cell phone. Shireen is a loving mother and does all she can to fulfill her daughter’s wishes, but comes up empty-handed each time. There’s a heartbreaking moment where she sets out to sell her gold bangles, gifted to her by her late husband, and discovers they are not real gold. This moment subtly gives a lot of insight into Shireen’s marriage and the sort of man she was married to. This woman has not live an easy life, but wants better for her young daughter, encouraging her to study hard in order to fulfill her own dreams. Unfortunately, we can see that Zoya is easily enticed by the finer things in life, taking rides with the neighbor boy, Arsal (Asad Siddiqui), to school in his nice car. While Arsal seems like a nice enough boy and seems well-intentioned, this does set the stage for how easy it is to lure Zoya into trouble.
In the final scene, Shireen visits Saleem (Behroze Sabzwari), her co-worker and well-wisher, at home to ask him for a loan (in order to get Zoya’s cell phone). Saleem seems besotted with Shireen and is willing to do anything for her. It’s here that we meet Junaid (Mikaal Zulfiqar), Saleem’s son. From his introduction, we can see that he’s not on the straight and arrow, storing stacks of cash in his closet while his father also does appear to understand what he does for work. Junaid gives his father money freely to give to Shireen, but alarm bells are now going off.
With Edison Idrees Masih behind the story, this is a drama that comes with a lot of promise. The foundation for the story has been set – and convincingly as well. Zoya is surrounded by young girls with cars, lavish lifestyles, iPhones, etc. while she spends her time at home catching dripping water in pans. She is not bitter, but she does dream of better for herself….even if it comes through a shortcut rather than hard work. From the promos, it’s evident that Zoya will get herself in trouble once she gets her coveted phone and will be lured in by Junaid. But how far will Junaid’s plot go? It will be interesting to watch this story play out. After the first episode, this one is a keeper.