Step aside folks, Pakistan has truly arrived at the web series front with Churails. Though this is not the first original web series to come out of Pakistan, it is indeed the one that has put us on the map and from this point onwards, there is no looking back.
Created and directed by Cake director, Asim Abbasi, Churails features Sarwat Gilani, Yasra Rizvi, Nimra Bucha and Meharbano as the four churails (witches) who are here to shake things up. Bakhtawar Mazhar, Sameena Nazir, Zara Khan, Mareeha Safdar, Amtul Baweja, Meher Jaffri and Shabana Hassan play the chosen seven while the male leads include Omair Rana, Kashif Hussain, Fawad Khan and Sarmed Aftab. There are plenty of cameos in the series, some of which are bound to surprise you and keep you hooked even more.
The series is about four women from completely different backgrounds come together one rainy night and decide that they have suffered enough at the hands of the men in their life. They come up with the idea of setting up a detective agency under the guise of a hijab and burqa store with the aim to get justice their way. They then set up an army of baby churails – the Chosen Seven – and train them to carry out their spying and sleuthing missions. The interesting bit is that their team is not all women – their army also consists of two men, one of whom is a hacker. All is going well for the Churails until of their own goes missing and the women come face to face with the powerful men of the city.
Churails has been wonderfully directed and presented. I like how the director made sure to strike a balance. Contrary to popular belief, the series is not anti-men or ‘fahash (vulgar)’ from any angle – it aims to challenge the system of patriarchy and break stereotypes surrounding outspoken and confident women. While the series shows plenty of ‘bad’ men, on the other end it shows decent men also, who support the women around them. Similarly, while they show mazloom and oppressed women, they also show women who support the system and enable the men around them. At the same time, I also liked how Asim cleverly combined fiction with reality. While the concept of Churails and all-women superhero team is something we all wish for, it is unrealistic at the end of the day. However, the situations the Churails find themselves in are very much real and oftentimes uncomfortable.
Perhaps the strongest part of the whole series were the performances, cinematography and music. The performances were absolutely phenomenal – it was like each role was written with the actor in mind – whether it was Sarwat as Sara ‘the perfect wife’ or Yasra as the hippie wedding planner Jugnu or Meharbano as Zubaida the young girl aspiring to be a boxer, each actor put forward their best foot. As for Nimra Bucha, she was on another level as Batool. She spoke little and had limited dialogues but the way she communicated with her eyes and expressions was just brilliant. The male actors also deserve a round of applause, especially Hussain as Shams and Aftab as Dilbar. Not only were they great in their roles, but their characters were also likeable. Omair Rana was fantastic as the manipulative politician and Sara’s husband Jamil as were the Chosen Seven.
Mo Azmi is a master of his craft and with Churails, he did his thing with finesse. He shot each frame meticulously, paying attention to detail, because of which the entire show was so aesthetically pleasing. The way he shot the frames in which the faces weren’t showing was simply mind-blowing. I particularly liked how Azmi played with lights to create an impact. The music of the series was also well-thought-out and each track and sound perfectly complemented the mood of the scene and added depth and character. Kudos to the music director for using music so deftly.
Production value of the series was also high with beautiful sets and chic costumes. I particularly loved Sara’s wardrobe – so glamourous.
While everything seems to be going right with the series otherwise, the one department which was I felt was a little weak was the editing, which would have been crisper. Each episode is approximately one hour long. Most web series have 45-minute episodes. Keeping that in mind, I do wish the episodes were a tad bit shorter. However, given how much I enjoyed the series, I’m willing to overlook this.
Overall the show is fun, fierce and full of sass. Asim attempted to shake things up with his series and I think he definitely did because these feisty and badass ‘Churails’ are here to stay. I would highly recommend everyone, especially all women to watch the series because I’m pretty sure you all will thoroughly enjoy it.
Churails is currently streaming on Zee5, which is accessible in Pakistan. The service operates similarly to Netflix and Amazon Prime and requires a subscription. While the subscription is usually Rs 2500/year, they are currently offering a deal through which you can get the subscription for Rs 1500 for the whole year. Payment can be done via a credit card.
Watch our video review here: