Director: Asim Abbasi
Cast: Sarwat Gilani, Yasra Rizvi, Nimra Bucha, Meher Bano, Omair Rana
A murder convict, a rebellious boxer, a trophy wife and a high society event manager, the only common thread between these four Karachi women is their trauma, and this alone proves enough to unite them to stand against patriarchal bullying. On the face of it, the premise of Churails is straightforward. It looks like a fashionable start up with a simple agenda. Unmask rich cheating husbands (which are seen to be plenty), and make some money while at it. Their one line advertising ‘Mard ko dard hoga’ is pretty clear to that extent.
Batool, Zubeida , Jugnoo and Sara, proudly wear the tag that the society throws at such non-conformist women – ‘Churails’ . They hire a group of diverse ‘outcasts’ – a sex worker, a transgender, a hacker and two thieves , all driven by the same purpose. The means to start this ‘detective agency’ sure comes from a place of wealth and privilege, but once under those burkhas, they are all the same.
While the first few episodes are all fun and playful, things go south soon after these women find themselves in a web of crimes bigger than the harmless household drama that they signed up for.
As we start getting invested into this rather long series, multiple layers start unfolding. A ten episode series, with each one lasting for 50 mins on an average, Churails dwells into a lot of things other than the obvious subject of patriarchy. Sexism, racism, homophobia, prostitution, abortion, etc. blends into the narrative without making a moral agenda out of it. Also, it is worth praising how all of these tricky subjects are handled with empathy.
It does not make heroes out of all women. Everyone is flawed; it is just how each one deals with their demons differently. The show is unbiased to strip down the flaws of its characters and the society. If there was a show which comes close to being honest about feminism, this is it. Without being preachy it gives you lessons on how feminism is gender agnostic. It raises fingers at women who are quick to judge other women over their own cheating husbands and failed marriages. And it also gives us regular men who are feminists in life and not on twitter.
Churails is as ugly and gruesome as reality. The makers innovate in narrating the cruelty through brilliant cinematography, outstanding background score and appealing production design. You’ll find the protagonists off focus in many frames suggesting how the truth is bigger than them. There’s defining music for every crucial scene. The dialogues are fun and sharp. Having praised it for all it’s technical finesse let me admit it does stay engaging all throughout. The only thing that could have been better was to hold the climax a bit tighter, there are enough hints dropped towards the end that make the revelation less shocking.
Churails does tend to bite more than it can chew, but anytime it starts getting overwhelming, the performances more than make up for it. The four women are brilliant in their roles and it’s tough to vouch for one over the other.
With this being my first acquaintance with modern Pakistani content, I am impressed. It is a heavy watch so I wouldn’t call it binge worthy but it is satisfying in the end.
Warning: The worst part is you have to go through a very user-unfriendly app- Zee5 to watch this.
Going with 4/5 cutting for this