Churails director 'upset' over removal of ZEE5 show in Pakistan, says move 'predictable, yet disappointing'

Pakistan Telecommunications Authority says Churails was removed in Pakistan by ZEE5, and neither PTA or local authorities had a role in it.

Press Trust of India October 08, 2020 15:45:01 IST
Churails director 'upset' over removal of ZEE5 show in Pakistan, says move 'predictable, yet disappointing'

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.

Churails (witches), which started streaming on the digital platform from 11 August, follows four Karachi women — ''perfect wife'' Sara (Sarwat Gilani), wedding planner Jugnu (Yasra Rizvi), boxer Zubaida (Mehar Bano), an ex-convict Batool (Nimra Bucha) — start a detective agency for wives with cheating husbands.

Taking to Twitter on Wednesday, London-based Abbasi expressed dismay over "artistic freedom squashed" with his show's unavailability in the country.

Read the tweet below

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.

A senior official of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) told Press Trust of India in Lahore that it had received complaints about Churails for having vulgar content but it does not come in the purview of the authority.

When contacted the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA), an official said Churails has been removed for viewers in Pakistan by the streamer.

"It's a decision by ZEE5, and neither PTA nor any other local authority has anything to do with it," the PTA official said.

In a post-release interview for the web series with PTI, Abbasi said the reaction to Churails has been mostly positive in Pakistan though there were some "pockets of noise."

"But it's ok as long as there is a conversation. Art is a dialogue," he had said in September.

Last month, Shailja Kejriwal, Chief Creative Officer – Special Projects, Zee Entertainment also told PTI that the success of Churails has inspired the team to unite for a second season though there is nothing official yet.

Churails is part of the re-launched Zindagi channel under Zee Entertainment, which paved way for the immense popularity of Pakistani stars like Fawad Khan, Sanam Saeed, and Mahira Khan by curating their hit dramas Zindagi Gulzar Hai and Humsafar upon its launch in 2014.

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