The Veiled Avengers of Pakistan’s Streaming New Wave

Bilal Qureshi at Film Quarterly:

The term “churails” is Pakistan’s c-word, translated literally as “witches,” but more accurately understood as a loaded epithet for a demonic, unstable, uncontrollable species of woman, the so-called bitch/witch. Filmmaker Asim Abbasi’s über-stylish series embraces the insult, celebrating the difficult women of Pakistan and reveling in their power through ten hours of exceptional television. The four central women of Churails (Asim Abbasi, 2020–) are drawn from across social classes and life experiences but come together with a mission: to form a detective agency that hunts down the terrible men of Karachi. They work under cover, literally, as their front is a clothing business called Halal Designs, where they meet in a subterranean control room that looks straight out of The Avengers to plot their missions. In a kind of extrajudicial feminist fantasy, they traverse the streets of Karachi in burkas, opening up basements and hidden corners of Pakistani homes in the dark of night, uncovering prostitution rings, secrets, and misogynistic murderers.

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