Churails received mixed reactions, with some labeling it as a “Yahoodi saazish” (Jewish conspiracy) or dismissing it as “sasti feminism” (cheap feminism). The show features female superheroes wearing burkas and confidently challenging men, leading to accusations of collaboration with Indian producers and ignoring Pakistan’s collaboration with China. I found Churails refreshing as it portrayed unapologetic women with goals beyond trapping their husbands. The flawed characters and their journeys of self-discovery made the show compelling.

Unlike other progressive shows that often create unrealistic superheroes with flawless bodies and effortless altruism, the four Churails are far from perfect. They each have their moments of vulnerability and selfishness, and their journey of self-discovery is what makes investing time in Churails worthwhile. Whether it’s Sara’s oscillation between seeking revenge and saving other women, Jugnu’s struggle with alcoholism and grogginess (without romanticizing it as empowering elitism), or the difficult choices Zubaida and Batool must make to survive their family’s decisions and traumatic pasts, these women become relatable at various points.

The term “Churail,” often used to describe uncontrollable and feisty women, is unabashedly reclaimed by these women. They hide their covert operations under the disguise of a “halal” boutique shop and use their pots and pans as weapons when necessary. The art direction adds a feisty and funky vibe to the show, while satirical one-liners like “Mard ko dard hoga” (Men will feel the pain) and “Men and pets are not allowed inside” provide comic relief within the otherwise dark-themed Churails.

Instead of resorting to tokenism and reducing these characters to their sexuality, Asim Abbasi raises important questions about the place of marginalized communities in Pakistani society through subtlety and moral ambiguity. For example, how does one come to terms with a gay man who cheats on his wife? Churails fearlessly addresses the patriarchal compromises women must make to advance in a capitalist society.

In one instance, when Jugnu confronts the CEO of an exploitative brand named Jalwa, the CEO unabashedly recounts her journey of sexual exploitation as a means of achieving class mobility and proudly states that she doesn’t regret her choices, leaving the audience to ponder if she truly had a choice. Some argue that Churails fails to address the classism and misogyny exhibited by elite women in Pakistan. However, the show portrays instances where the working-class Churails are always the most vulnerable. Dilbar rightly points out to Jugnu that he had to suffer a burnt leg for her to even consider his romantic pursuits. Sara forgives her husband’s past actions and comfortably returns to the safety of his arms and their spacious mansion whenever things become overwhelming. Jugnu is portrayed as an upper-class, obnoxious, super-rich alcoholic who is frequently homophobic, fatphobic, and classist.

She does not employ Batool out of the goodness of her heart but bluntly states, “Tumhari jaisi aurat saste main ati hai.” Symbolism is scattered throughout Churails, adding to its visual delight. Men dressed as beasts running the city’s beauty industry, Zubaida’s red dress alludes to The Red Riding Hood and foreshadows her fate, and the use of food, which symbolizes a woman’s charm in South Asian households, as a tool for punishing and controlling men.

While Churails successfully addresses multiple themes and issues such as child marriage, motherhood, reproductive rights, colonialism, colorism, forced marriages, and sexual exploitation, there are times when it feels like it is trying to tackle too much. For example, the inclusion of Jackson’s character and the question of race seemed out of place and forced. Additionally, the show’s format undergoes a complete transformation from the sixth episode, which somewhat diminishes its charm.

At times, the script also portrays a superficial image of Pakistan, such as when Jugnu openly drinks in public without any concern, despite alcohol possession being highly prohibited in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, let alone a woman displaying such behavior in broad daylight. Another instance is when Sara talks about lucrative divorce settlements in a country where most women are unaware of their right to divorce.
Churails are a must-watch if you have an appetite for unapologetic women challenging patriarchy. However, the TV industry needs to do much more to produce feminist shows to take a significant step toward women’s rights.


Hi! I'm an occasional reader, an avid writer and a fiercely firm feminist too. Hope you read & like my articles. I don't do politics much but I love writing for women, culture & life!