Artwork by Rohama – @rohama_draws on Instagram
By Ramsha Shoaib Jilani
Churails recently took the internet by a storm. It was one resilient and raw narrative about how a group of women just as real, raw and perhaps perfectly flawed as many of us behind the screens have the power to unshackle the chains of misogyny, the painful aggression of patriarchy and once united, under the flag of behenchara, they can alter countless narratives; however, while Churails is just one chunk of the wider perspective of female representation on screen in the popular culture, there still exists a plethora of questions about whether or not we have space in our hearts and minds for headstrong and self-willed characters like Jugnu or Batool.
Churails, as a narrative and show, did not violate any guidelines set by PEMRA but something still halted their decision to air it on mainstream media. Was it the fear of radicals protesting the content because women walking out of their homes and standing up against patriarchal figures is no less than a crime? Could it be the fact that we are just not ready to accept the fact that women, like majority of the humans, do smoke, or maybe, we are just not ready to witness the reality of our sub-continent being projected on mainstream media? At the end of the day, the producers of Churail had to revert to an international media hub for airtime.
While the world maybe reading to project women in the pop culture through characters such as Annalise Keating from How to Get Away with Murder, a large faction of consumers of the sub-continent’s media still wish to witness their women as feeble and submissive beings who are nothing but subordinate objects of desire. It is in fact a matter of immense pain and embarrassment to witness content through the likes of Khalil ur Rehman shake media, but Churails shunned away. The fact that media houses still feel that feeding the painful ego of patriarchy and sexism through their content is what amounts to a higher viewership count is the tragic reality, which is why showing women as weak, specialized objects of submission and command from TVCs to political shows helps them cash in greens.
It pains me to see how characters like Jungu and Batool did not make to the mainstream media of my country, but it is also a delightful reminder of the potential of Pakistani producers, directors, story writers and artists. Maybe not today, but someday, our hearts and minds will be open to accepting the reality of strength which rests in the heart of our women. With content like Churails, that day is not far.
My name is Ramsha Shoaib Jilani. I am a cat and chai lover, journal hoarder and a laal surkhi, obsessed feminist. I also happen to be a student of fashion, majoring in Fashion Marketing and Merchandising. You can find me on Instagram: @ramsha1998.