Bollywood News - Churails review: For the misfits, by the misfits

Bollywood News - Churails review: For the misfits, by the misfits
Bollywood News - Churails review: For the misfits, by the misfits

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Owing to its title, Churails could be mistaken for a horror show. To many women who will be watching it, perhaps it will be one - a story reflecting on the horror of navigating patriarchal codes of conduct in a society where it is all too easy to be deemed a misfit.

In Churails, you are one if you refuse to forget or forgive your partner's sexual escapades, or stand up to an oppressive family member or punish a sexually abusive husband or simply live life on your own terms. The term 'churail' (witch) then comes to mean a woman who refuses to conform.

Thankfully, the 'misfits' in Churails do just that. The plot revolves around four women who barely have anything in common - a lawyer, wedding planner, boxer and murderer, all wronged by men in their lives - who come together to form a detective agency, under the garb of a fashion boutique.

Driven by the idea of bringing justice to other women who have been similarly exploited by men, they embark on a mission that begins with catching cheating husbands with proofs but graduates to more complex cases.

You can dub them Charlie's Angels or Pakistan's answer to Gulab Gang, but there is something refreshingly original about the titular churails. For one, there's no blind idealism.

Money is important, and so is the rich clientele that comes to them to get evidence of their husband's escapades. Once the cash starts coming in, the scope for social justice expands.

When a member of the group suffers at the hands of her family, the quartet makes provisions for the less privileged who need their help.
Law - "as written by men" - becomes negotiable too.

If the plot feels a little exaggerated at times, it is laced with powerful dialogues that serve to remind that the situations presented in the series are not all that far-fetched. Through them, we also peek into the inner lives of exploited women and the emotional and physical injuries they learn to live with.

Abbasi does not have an easy task at hand as he sets out to look at gender inequality from all perspectives. What normalises violation of a woman in a man's eyes? The answer is in a poignant scene where a pre-teen touches a woman inappropriately at a supermarket.
Despite being reprimanded by the mother, it is the grinning father proclaiming 'boys-will-be-boys' that inadvertently gives the child a clean chit.

Churails also shines when it refuses to look at circumstances purely from a black-and-white lens. Is the man whose harassment led to a woman's suicide any less a murderer? Is truth-telling a virtue when one reveals sexual orientation of a married man to his wife? The show's real triumph is in bringing these debates to our living rooms.

The performances are powerful. Sarwat Gilani's portrayal of a lawyer and the moral centre of the agency is nuanced. As wedding planner Jugnu Choudhary, Yasra Rizvi is simply delightful, often bringing in humorous element to scenes rife with tension.

Nimra Bucha embodies the conflicts of a woman who killed her abusive husband; she commands a strong screen presence. The show-stealer is Mehar Bano, who plays a young boxer who escapes her oppressive family; she effortlessly combines the idealism with easiness of youth.

When it comes to telling the human story, Pakistani dramas have mostly been on top 0f their game. While Churails was initially intended to be made into a film, its online release only shows how that sensibility has evolved. It is bold and intelligent storytelling that opens doors for conversations on 'difficult' women. [email protected]

Churails is the first original from Zindagi and will start streaming on ZEE5 from today


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