Pakistan 'Shuts Down' Web-Series 'Churails', Internet Asks if This Will End Rapes
British-Pakistani director Asim Abbasi has alleged that his critically acclaimed Pakistani web series “Churails” has been “shut down in its country of origin”. The series, backed by Indian video on demand service Zee5, garnered favourable reviews in India with critics praising the show for a fresh feminist take on intersectional patriarchy.
The ban comes after a clip from the series went viral showing Hina Khwaja Bayat's character Sherry talking about sexual favours she gave to men to move up the ladder of social class. The scene enraged the netizens who said that such content promotes vulgarity and should be banned. However, Pakistan's telecommunication regulatory body PTA has said that they haven't blocked the show, but Zee5 has removed it due to objections on the content from the public.
Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, London-based Abbasi expressed dismay over "artistic freedom squashed" with his show’s unavailability in the country. “How strange for #Churails to be lauded internationally, and now be shut down in its country of origin. In the very country where hundreds of artists came together to create something that could initiate dialogue and open doors for new narratives,” the director, also known for his dysfunctional family drama “Cake”, wrote on Twitter.
How strange for #Churails to be lauded internationally, and now be shut down in its country of origin. In the very country where hundreds of artists came together to create something that could initiate dialogue and open doors for new narratives. (1)— Asim Abbasi (@IllicitusProduc) October 7, 2020
Artistic freedom squashed because it is wrongly perceived by some as a moral threat. Predictable, and yet, still disappointing. For this is not just my loss. This is a loss for women and marginalised communities that this show meant to re-represent. (2)— Asim Abbasi (@IllicitusProduc) October 7, 2020
Abbasi said the move is “predictable, and yet, still disappointing”. “Artistic freedom squashed because it is wrongly perceived by some as a moral threat. Predictable, and yet, still disappointing. For this is not just my loss. This is a loss for women and marginalised communities that this show meant to re-represent.” This is a loss for all actors, writers, directors and technicians across Pakistan, who were hoping for OTT platform to be their saviour, the filmmaker said.
“And it’s a home-run for all the misogynists who have once again proven that they are the only voice that matters,” he added.
The move has evoked strong reaction from Pakistani actors, filmmakers and other celebrities.
Oh, you got Churails banned? Congratufuckinglations. Now please focus your outrage on the fact that police have failed to arrest the prime accused in the motorway rape incident.— Osman Khalid Butt (@aClockworkObi) October 7, 2020
Churails ban means the end of any possible evolution for Pakistan’s television industry. We will keep falling into a deep pit of cheap soap operas turning our audience’s tastes ever more vulgar and tawdry.— Sabahat Zakariya (@sabizak) October 7, 2020
Banning dancing ads, outspoken films and webseries will not end rape if that's the agenda. Why are we riddled with such hypocrisy? Buss bandh darvaazon kay peechay ho sub. God forbid hamari bholi awaam influence na ho jai if we take creative liberty to be honest and open.— Sanam Saeed (@sanammodysaeed) October 7, 2020
Churails shows the sides of society that very much exist in reality. So if reenactment of it is considered vulgar by some I would suggest them to actually do something to stop forced marriages & rapes rather than putting a blindfold on by just banning it.— Shamoon (@ShamoonIsmail) October 7, 2020
So Churails was just doing fine despite butthurting many and the outrage, until a scene about handjob goes viral which triggered Pakistanis like crazy.The same Pakistanis who are top of the list for searching and watching porn. #Churails— anastipu (@teepusahab) October 7, 2020
It’s amazing that men in a country with one of the highest rates of porn viewership have a problem with a scene from #Churails that highlighted the grim reality of what women must deal with at the workplace.Ban action movies too as Pak has had a crisis of violence and killing!— Uzair Younus عُزیر یُونس (@UzairYounus) October 7, 2020
Churails (witches), which started streaming on the digital platform from August 11, follows four Karachi women — 'perfect wife Sara (Sarwat Gilani), wedding planner Jugnu (Yasra Rizvi), boxer Zubaida (Mehar Bano) and ex-convict Batool (Nimra Bucha) — start a detective agency for wives with cheating husbands. The women face a lot of flak for their work and fate leads them to the ugly realities of a man's world that objectifies women and sets precedent for the 'perfect woman'.