Churails packs a solid punch

If you are a desi, chances are that over the past few days, you must have heard the buzz surrounding one of Pakistan’s first few digital releases, Churails. The show has been released on the Zee5 platform, under the ‘Zindagi’ programming umbrella that features the best of Pakistani content. Asim Abbasi, who made everyone sit up and take notice with “Cake” last year, is at the helm of this project, as its writer and director.

Now, if you have heard about Churails, you must have also heard that is has been a polarising topic for audiences; a quick Twitter search will tell you that people either loved it or can’t stand idea – it’s another thing though that most of the people who seem to have an issue with the content of the show are going by hearsay and have not actually watched the show themselves. And that is where the problem lies – everyone needs to watch the show because I don’t think you can get to the end of it without feeling a deep love and appreciation for the characters.

If you are still on the fence about watching the show, here are 5 reasons you need to get that Zee5 subscription now to watch it.

1)     The Concept:  I will admit it – when I first heard of the show, I was a little skeptical. Churails is so much more than it’s accompanying plot summary. It is a journey that starts from the surface of seemingly perfect lives and then peels off layers to really reflect on a number of very important social issues. Don’t mistake it for a dreary, social commentary though, because with the Churails, there are plot twists, humour, family drama and even some action!

Yes, the language can be coarse in some places. Yes, the characters, particularly Jugnu’s is exaggerated in the early part of the series. Yes, some of this could have been avoided. But as you watch the show, these things become something of a white noise.

I guess what it comes down to, is this: essentially all the stories that we see are based on the reality of our society and if after watching the show, the language is the biggest issue you have with the show, you probably need to be more empathetic to your surroundings.

In a way, Churails reminded me about Manto’s response to the criticism levelled against his stories – that if people find his stories unbearable then they should find society unbearable too, for his stories only reflect what is happening already in society.

2)     The Performances:

A big part of the reason that makes Churails such a gripping watch is the performances by not just the stellar core cast, but also pretty much everyone we see on our screens.

Some of the highlight performers for me were Sarwat Gillani, Nimra Bucha and Eman Suleman (in that hauntingly beautiful cameo).

As a viewer, it was refreshing to see characters that all have shades of grey, that make mistakes, that sometimes feel lost. Asim manages to put together a line up of humans who we learn to accept and then love with all their flaws.

I particularly enjoyed watching a show that showed strong women, who actually come together to support and help each other to overcome some of the most grave challenges of their lives.

3)     The Cinematography: Churails takes you into a world of its own – and the pitch-perfect cinematography and art design makes that world oh-so-believable. One of the standout scenes for me personally has to be towards the end of the show, in Sarah and Jameel’s study. The way the opulence of that room is juxtaposed with the hollow reality, is a masterful play of colours, light and shadow. The team of Churails has set the bar so high that it will be a tough act to follow.

4)     The Music: Any review of Churails would be incomplete without mentioning the music. The songs that have been woven within the screenplay as well as the background music.

The selection of artists put together by Taha Malik, is ace. I hope that audiences will look up all the brilliant indie artists featured and add these songs to their playlists!

5)     Asim Abbasi: After having watched Cake and now Churails, it is safe to say that Asim is one of the most talented storytellers to have emerged on to the Pakistani entertainment scene in years. The small details and nuances that he picks add so much to a scene. The lingering glances, the subtle change of expressions, the silences and pauses (that are as powerful as the dialogues).

The story he tells is not an easy one not least because it is a non-linear with flashbacks telling us more about all of these characters. But Asim manages it with great panache.

With Churails, Asim and Zee5 have successfully managed to put Pakistan on the digital streaming map.

With a future lineup of some very exciting projects, I can promise you that the Zee5 subscription will be well worth it!

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