Zubaida, one of the leading ladies of the hit Pakistani web series Churails says, in a monologue, ‘If we break down these walls, unveil ourselves, show everything to you… then how will your fragile ego tolerate our rebellion?’ She refers to the men around her. Her father, who wants her to go to school covered from head to toe. Her brother, who ratted her out when she went to a boxing class. Although the quote was for a fictional world, after looking at the recent events, it seems like the real world might not be that different.
PEMRA bans Pakistani web series Churails:
One of the reasons directors prefer working on streaming platforms is because it provides them with creative liberty. That is exactly what Asim Abbas had in mind when he wrote and directed Pakistani web series Churails for an Indian streaming platform, Zee5. Little did he know that the Pakistani Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) would eventually reach there as well. A few days ago, a clip from the web series went viral on social media platforms. In the clip, a woman named Sherry (Hina Khwaja Bayat), C.E.O of Jalwa, a fictional fairness cream company, talked about how she had to perform sexual acts for men to climb the ladder in the corporate world. Pakistani netizens started criticizing the show for being vulgar. This led to PEMRA reportedly banning the web series.
A decisive decision:
Many people and celebrities spoke against the ban on the show. Some of them went on to say that instead of focusing efforts on catching rapists and not letting them get out on bail, our authorities are banning freedom of expression. If people deem the content vulgar, they shouldn’t watch it. It is as simple as that. Other people pointed out how we keep talking about the international platform Netflix not investing in Pakistan. Unlike our neighboring country India, which has made a plethora of shows and movies with Netflix’s help so far. This is the reason why. Surprisingly, not everyone spoke against the ban. Some supported the ban. Citing that vulgarity and obscene language have no place in Pakistan and shouldn’t be promoted.
PEMRA on a ban roll:
This isn’t the first time PEMRA has taken such drastic measures. A few weeks ago, the authority banned re-runs of dramas Ishqiya and Pyaar Kay Sadqay. It had also banned Jalan. But PEMRA revoked the decision after a day. Mehwish Hayat starrer Gala biscuit ad also received an ax from PEMRA just a few days ago. PEMRA asked advertisers to review the ad because it was indecent. What could possibly be a biscuit advertisement showing that was termed as indecent? Well, Mehwish Hayat was dancing fully clothed, wearing colorful and vivid dresses.
At a time when every other day you hear about children and women being raped, you would think that the authorities would focus on far more pressing issues than a woman dancing to sell biscuits. The ad is senseless, yes, but there is nothing indecent about it. If the Gala biscuit ad can be termed indecent, then almost half the advertisements running on our TV channels should be banned considering singing and dancing to sell a product has been a trend for many years.
Churails was a bold web series; it dealt with a lot of taboo topics, such as homosexuality, cannibalism, abortion, and infidelity. But it also had that one thing the Pakistani drama industry was missing for quite some time: strong female characters taking charge of their own lives. As of Friday, 9th October, Churails is back on Zee5. It is unclear how PEMRA arrived at the decision, but it is a win for the Pakistani entertainment industry.