BADASSES IN BURQAS
THE WEEK|September 06, 2020
A new Pakistani show reveals the dark underbelly of Karachi through four women out to expose cheating spouses
MANDIRA NAYAR

There is a new superhero cape: the burqa. Not in the trademark black, but in colours of summer fashion— fuschia, fire engine red and tangerine. If Spider-Man has his mask to fight his crusade, the Churails from Karachi have their own version of the justice brigade.

Streaming on ZEE5, the Pakistani show Churails has stirred up a mini revolution. Sassy, funny, dark, disturbing and addictive, the 10-episode show is replete with strongly etched characters and a story that stays with you much after the show is over.

Welcome to Karachi 2020—a place of sprawling bungalows, beautiful women, politicians, cheating husbands, greed, drugs and the seamier side of a modern metropolis. Asim Abbasi, director of the film Cake (2018), about the relationship of two sisters, is now back with a hit web series.

Churails brings together four women who turn their personal battles into an all-out war for justice. There is Sara (Sarwat Gilani), the perfect wife who discovers one night that her husband has sent messages from LA to Larkana; Jugnu (Yasra Rizvi), a wedding planner estranged from her family and a socialite who is never far from her hip flask; Zubaida (Mehar Bano), a young aspiring boxer with a conservative father; and Batool (Nimra Bucha), who murders her abusive husband.

The show cuts across class and privilege to show different faces of Karachi. There is love—not the usual romance—and there is anger. “It is female fantasy,’’ says Bucha. The four get together to start a boutique—Halal Fashions—which is a cover for a detective agency to expose cheating spouses, offering the enticing promise of, “Mard ko dard hoga” (Men will feel pain). The women of Karachi who lavish money on “lawn and zewar (jewellery)’’ choose instead to spend it on finding out the truth about their partners. Think Scandal, but with burqas instead of Olivia Pope’s gladiator outfits.

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