Churails review: Asim Abbasi’s web series brims over with feisty, feminist, fast-paced fun
Published: August 11, 2020 10:15:02 pm
Churale inserted: Sarawat Gilani, Nimra Bucha, Meher Bano, Yasra Rizvi
Churel Director: Aseem Abbasi
It’s payback time, folks. The ten-episode web series, Churels, gives us a Karachi-based women’s band whose purpose is to take revenge on men who have made their lives miserable. Directed by Aseem Abbasi, who created the catchy family drama Cake, Churels worked with feudalistic, feminist, fast-paced fun. ‘Marad gets pained’, they promise. And this is what they deliver.
Meet as the main part of the group. On the face of it, Sara (Sarawat Geelani) has a perfect life. Perfect spouse, home, staff, children, money strapped. But she wants more. She wants to be herself. Jugnu (Yasra Rizvi) is a high-profile event manager, aka ‘Kim Kardashian’ from Pakistan, according to a couple of her cat pals. He is rich, single and not mingled. Her best friend is a silver hip, her sultry beauty embellished with such designer jumpsuits, who can see the very rich gym-ready body without looking silly. Batul (Nimra Bucha) is a middle-aged prison veteran who has spent twenty years inside for murder. He is out now, and is looking for purpose. And Zubaida (Meher Bano), wants to be free from her traditional family. She wants to flirt with her boyfriend when she is not boxed, which, she says, makes her happy.
Once all of the gang is there, the force of gossip kills the multiplier effect. Who needs to advertise when word of mouth comes out? Women against women started pouring into a boutique, which serves as a front: ‘agay burka, peach bandook’. Or, more accurately, the ‘backside’ of the store, where there are gulls with guns. Cash starts coming in: rescue mission, supported by expert hackers, cost. Everything is going smoothly, for one day.
Not all episodes work as well as others. Time causes some back-and-foraging confusion, and finesse. A particularly gruesome murder (inciting author Ronald Dahl) leads to some scattering i-roll situations, including masked men, prostitution rackets, illegal abortions, kidnappings, dodgy private parts, crook guards, and dark childhoods. Includes secrets that include the base apatite. And holy oath: there is one thing to go after the husband who secretly meets his lovers in the hotel room, this is another attempt to expose a ring of armed and dangerous hoods, on the outskirts of the city. But whatever it’s worth, seeing free-spirited, loud, hockey-stick and rifle-toeing, burqa-clad women beating Bezius off violent, murderous men is one of Churrell’s high points. : I was telling both, another, Pal, and my head was laughing.
But while all of the Charlies Angels going Churel are good for something fun and games, the real strength of the series comes from being intimate and very personal with the women. Sometimes it can chew it up more than it does: colorism, racism, classism, aristocracy are all thrown into the mix. But some fairly brave elements — men and women and same-sex love, for example — are treated with sympathy. And the most effective parts are those that are quiet, where we see the vulnerability and pain of women, rich or poor. His stories – a Zubaida being tricked into an arranged marriage, a Betul losing his daughter, a Sara being gasseted by his treacherous spouse, a firefly haunting her sorrows – are universal.
Good performance, sparkly dialogue (I want to die in Dior, Jugnu says, and all the other lines of delicious Urdu, so familiar to those Pakistani serials we’ve watched so carefully), a well-judged, silent background. The score (some songs from the Hindi film pop up as well) and a better emotional core to its finer parts: The series offers a vivid picture of the place, and you come away knowing what its characters have.
And it empowers you women at the top. What not to like
ChEEails is streaming on ZEE5.
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