After telling the story of a dysfunctional family with the delightful Cake, director Asim Abbasi has tried his hand at long-format storytelling with the upcoming Zee5 web series, Churails. Headlined by Sarwat Gillani, Mehar Bano, Nirma Bucha, and Yasra Rizvi, the show revolves around the four women who run a detective agency that exposes the cheating husbands in Karachi.
Keen to collaborate with Abbasi, Bano says she gave her nod before she laid her hands on the script. “Asim doesn’t propagate the set ideas of morality, but depicts reality to the tee. Women are asked to forgo opportunities in life because the patriarchal society deems them unfit; Churails questions that notion.”
In telling the story of four distinct yet spirited women, the series tackles patriarchy, child abuse and gender discrimination. Gillani believes it has a universal appeal as women around the globe battle gender inequality in different forms. “This show isn’t gender specific and tackles the larger issue with nuance and deftness. This is the kind of show that should be shown to a global audience because the story of the woman is the same. This show pushes the envelope because it simply tackles a universal story. I am a motivational speaker who meets so many women from diverse fields. Their common narrative is that men working below them in the corporate hierarchy aren’t comfortable with them. The phenomena cuts through class, cultures. Patriarchy is a norm which defeats the idea of equal society,” she observes.
Of course, facing its share of brickbats that every trailblazing piece of work must be subjected to, Gillani says, “The good thing about the virtual world is that everyone has an opinion. In history, things done for greater good have faced their fair share of problems. This is a show which is bound to shake up comfort zones.”
As the first Pakistani show to release in India since the cine bodies had announced a collective ban on actors and content from across the border post the 2016 Uri attacks, Churails may well spark a debate. But Bano says she sees this as the start of a digital revolution. “It will only get bigger here and open doors for us. This might spark outrage but it will ensue a dialogue paving way for more cultural exchange.”
Gillani echoes the idea saying that art and music are boundless. “Art is a force of nature. Jahan rokenge, waha dusra rasta nikal jata hai. Artistes are free spirited and we can’t be stopped.”
They collectively believe that the connection between the two nations has taken too long to resume. Bucha adds, “It’s happy to know we haven’t been out of minds of the Indian audiences. I am glad Zindagi never gave up on the idea. Resuming these ties is for the longer haul and triumph of humanity.”
As she attempted to soak herself in every shade of savage Batool, Bucha says she was too consumed by the part to care about how one would respond to her character. “Authenticity in depicting her was key for us. I think there’s a certain notion that women wouldn’t fare well at espionage but this show will change that idea. We are curious by nature and this show depicts reality. Women are taking over traditionally male dominated workplaces and this show only tries to catch up with the real world. Conventionally, docility is a virtue but with more conversation around feminism, Churails is a timely series that highlights the history of injustices faced by the women folk. In India and in Pakistan, we’ve allowed a lot of public space to conservative elements. We talk about change but yet allow hardliners to occupy the space of dialogue. Art is for discussion and criticism is welcome but I think there will also be greater support for the project which outweighs any conservative responses.”
For Rizvi, who says it took only the Pilot episode to say yes, there were no second thoughts. “I went in for the writing alone. Right at the start, I knew this show could not be superficial. This show is nothing like anything else that has come from Pakistan before. The Indian audience should be prepared to be intrigued,” labelling the show as an interesting and imaginative watch.
Even as they gear up to rattle up the world with some cataclysmic ideas at the heart of their show, Rizvi offers the most hopeful and effective last word. “We have been consuming Indian cinema and music for a long time and I don’t think people in India knew of our dramas till Zindagi. Our stories and our work got introduced to a wide range of people. This affinity, warmth and association will help people of both nations understand each other better.”
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