Starring” Sarwat Gilani,Yasra Rizvi, Nimra Bucha, Mehar Bano
Written & Directed by Asim Abbasi
After a failed suicide attempt one of the protagonists Batool calls herself Dard ki deewani.
“Drama Queen!” mutters her friend colleague and sister in arms Jugnua an alcoholic wedding planner for whom God and the writer have some unexpected plans.
Churails thrives on throwing repartees into conversations that seem snatched from the world around us without seeming to cannibalize from any secondary source. The beauty of the gleaming surface secretes some truly ugly home-truths.(Speaking of cannibalism, this is Zee5’s second series in a row after Abhay where cannibalism is prominently featured. Quite a flesh-in-pan is thereby cooked up).
Churails shies from neither the gleaming elitist ambience nor the ugliness that lies beneath. It is remarkably balanced and non-judgmental about a society that is intrinsically imbalanced and incurably judgmental.
Into this simmering implosive cauldron of cosmopolitan chaos walk force self-willed Pakistani women, each a non-crushable force to reckon with. Each ravaged to varying degrees by patriarchal bullying. The most hard-hit of the quartet is the thunderous Batool(Nimra Bucha, powerful)) a woman who can fell you to the ground writhing with just one freezing look. No one would dare to mess around with Batool. But many did in the past. This is a haunted woman hunting for men who have plundered the dignity of womanhood since Adam mated with Eve.
While Batool is the strongest of the characters, Sara(Sarwat Gilani, beautiful and effective), a socialite married to a powerful politician in the making, is no less persuasive in her determination to mend the wrongs that she’s seen repeatedly inflicting on her self-worth.
Sara has a brilliant dinner table sequence with her uppity mother-in-law who spares no opportunity to insult her as the old lady’s obedient son watches his wife being humiliated in front of her little children. The sequence has classic resonances digging its heels deep into the gender prejudices that control the way women in third-world countries are treated, even the privileged ones, who are disempowered by those very men in their lives who pretend to empower them.
The other two ‘Churails’ Jugnu(Yasra Rizvi) and Zubaida(Mehar Bano) come out relatively pale, lacking the eloquent space that Batool and Sara create out of their characters’ raw wounded pride.
While the writing is uniformly impeccable, at least until the first 7 episodes(after which the pursuit of a proper climax kills some of the series’ overall power and impact), the writer-director Assim Abbasi(see his earlier feature film Cake again about strong women in pursuit of their identity) displays a tendency towards the latter half of the series, to cram in too many prototypes: the troubled lesbian couple, the torn transgender, the closeted gay husband who comes out to a gruesome end, the little boy who is encouraged by his mother to play with dolls if he so wishes, the trophy wife searching for her self-worth, the abused wife searching for her daughter, the Pakistani wife coping with an inter-racial marriage….
Man, there is hell to pay! Providentially the male characters are not demonized just to portray the female heroes in a flattering light. My favourite character is Jamshed, a seemingly insensitive cop played with exceeding sensitivity by Fawad Khan(no,not that overrated one from Khubsoorat). Jamshed’s transformation by love is one of the strengths of this powerful and resourceful drama, filled with surprises, warmth, honesty, and, yes, pain.