As Churails deal with the aftermath of them being ‘exposed’ and getting the wrath of the public, all the characters seem to go back to their own comfort (or not so comfortable) zones. It is here when we begin to see a shift in the tone and the nature of the story. And this is where Churails begins to pick up pace and actually deliver punch after punch to your gut. Zubaida is shown to be kidnapped and the seeds of friction within the Churails have been sown. There seems to be a more sinister game at play but we aren’t shown that. Not yet. Right now it just appears to be a fight between two poles of society – but within these two poles there are good, evil, innocent, fluctuating people who are struggling with their inner demons.
One of the Churails, Sheila, goes missing. Pace of the show continues going from strength to strength. As a media circus surrounds the Churails and Batool, hidden from all this, is on a journey to find her own daughter that she once had. Batool’s unlikely romance with the gritty inspector is one of the most endearing scenes in the episode.
Jugnu’s tryst with Dilbar, her assistant, is a different kind of endearing. The clash of class is depicted in a humorous, self-reflective way. This is where you see Asim truly in his element.
There is also a powerful comment on class and race relations steeped well within the social structure: one that idolizes white people and demonizes any other race, especially those with African heritage.
A glimpse into old Lollywood and the obsessive ‘gora’ complex that South Asian societies haven’t fully come to terms with also is given a bitter but real spotlight.
With this episode, Churails goes darker than it ever did (considering it had a man-eating woman in one of its earlier episodes, that’s saying something). Asim takes the viewers through a playland of horrors. Rich wealthy men use a secretive party in a beach house far away from civilization. Here they prey on young but ambitious women who want to make it ‘big’ in the modeling/fashion business.
I can’t fully say that something as dark and disgusting actually takes place in the world of fashion in Pakistan but there are all-too-familiar notes of exploitation and human trafficking stories that often grace the news.
Sara grapples with guilt and turns to her husband Jamil for comfort and solace. Jamil promises to help her. Jugnu goes in pursuit of a White Rose Beauty parlor where she figures out that illegal abortions take place. ‘Jalwa’ beauty cream is also riddled with cancerous and hazardous chemicals that destroy lives. All of this points to the big message Abbasi wants to give: patriarchy is killing women in many silent ways.
Episode 09 and Episode 10
The Churails set out to rescue Zubaida. They face major hurdles and find their real villain.
Abbasi shows his skill as a filmmaker and director the best here in these last two episodes: scenes are wound tightly and the narrative grips you. You can’t let go of the characters for even a second. Churails becomes an engaging, engrossing tale that you can’t look away from. The stakes are high and the stories resound. It’s not about relating to these characters anymore – now these characters are their own spectral in our minds: each of them screaming their own tales of agony and humanness.
There are only two regrets I have with Churails: one is that I wish it had positioned or marketed itself as an action thriller with four women at the front instead of them being burqa-clad detectives. Because Asim’s true strength as a filmmaker is seen in the action-packed thrilling beats of the film. He manages them with far more precision than any a mainstream or critically acclaimed director you’ll have seen in the world. The second is that I wish Pakistan had had its own platforms which would have released Churails instead of finding a platform across the border.
With all its fairly minor flaws, Churails is a gripping, powerful, brutal story that is a must-watch for everyone in the South Asian diaspora and beyond. Asim Abbasi has clearly handpicked his actors and each of them are absolutely perfect for the roles they are playing whether it’s the police constable or the female protagonists. Omair Rana as the suave upper class lawyer husband Jamil who constantly gaslights his wife, Hina Khwaja Bayat as the shady parlor/spa owner, Khalid Ahmed who plays a foreign educated man whose education couldn’t cure him of his misogyny, Shameem Hilaly as Jamil’s mother who is among the many reasons why men turn out like Jamil, Leila Zuberi as the old Lollywood actress who stopped appearing in films due to her physical ailments – all supporting characters in the Churails gang, all their allies, even the smallest extras are simply brilliant and there are many Easter eggs hidden in the series for Pakistani audienes to love. There’s even a special appearance from Mahira Khan.
Churails will hopefully allow more brave filmmakers and storytellers to step forward and tell their stories. We have so many stories in our societies that need to be told in an expert, impactful way. While I have no issues with the song and dance on our big screens and on our drama screens, features like Churails also deserve a big space in our society because they’re telling tales that hit too close to home and also unveil a barrage of uncomfortable truths in a deservedly gritty yet humane way.