Asim Abbasi is one of those names of Pakistani entertainment industry, who has his share in making country known on international scene. Getting many accolades for his debut film Cake (2018), his recent web series, Churails on Zindagi tab at OTT app Zee5 has created much hype and is getting positive reviews for its story, direction and acting and overall production.
Here is the exclusive interview with the writer and director of Churails, who says he has introduced a completely opposite meaning of this word.
What was the reason behind deciding this title Churails for the series?
I tried to subvert the meaning of word that is usually used in a negative way to label women.
“Historically we used to hear from our elders that woman, who denies obeying men around her like father, brother and husband, and courage to take decision of her own life is labelled as ‘Churail’”
How you have defined Churail?
My Churail is a woman who is against every kind of oppression and stand up for her own and others rights; who is liberated emotionally, physically and sexually, and accepting g all this qualities and taking it as a stride and wearing it as badge of honour.
Tell us something about the storyline of the series?
Churails is a team of four women, coming from different backgrounds and environments, economically and socially; one is married, one is divorced, and one is young, while the one is much older and has been married before. These characters carry my definition of Churail, who can be from a highly rich and privileged woman to extremely poor and underprivileged one, and have different kinds of oppression and issues but undergoes through a same pain, trauma, and humiliation and have to deal with it irrespective of their class.
“It is not just about how a woman can stand up for her rights in this patriarchal system but how is she downplayed in our society. It is a wide range that includes child marriages, domestic violence, abusive attitude, and judgement on her physical appearances like body shaming.”
When and how Churails was shot?
Churails was shot in the summer of last year mostly in Karachi, a short portion in Hyderabad while a small portion was needed to shoot in London.
It was a very long process. We had over 100 locations, and besides these four leading actors, had a very huge cast for supporting characters as well. The post production work was conducted in Pakistan, India and London via our teams in three cities who were constantly coordinating with each other.
How much Churail is the visual treat and how strong is the series visually?
I have tried to bring Churails to a feature film level and give it a complete cinematic feel. The series includes massive sets and a lot of fighting and action sequence which we rarely see in Pakistani series.
“We shot them with the same camera on which we shot Cake. Visually it is richer than Cake as the cake was a naturalistic and realistic story while Churails was made in keeping the international audience in my mind as well. So visually it is more striking g and much bolder.”
It is said that a formula of a successful web series is the inclusion lot of sex, violence and abuse it. Do you agree?
It is more of a stigma than reality. These things come when story or narrative demand them. I think web has become a medium where we are experimenting with things that can’t be show in films and television that is deriving or stories from real life. So, if story includes a character who use abusive language in real life, then it would be shown on screen as well to keep it closer to reality. Like there are some shows that address things of sex. So it goes according to story.
Is the intended message and desired impact of Churails is women empowerment and liberation?
A fiction filmmaker do raise question instead of giving message and pass judgement unless it is a documentary on specific subject. “We don’t necessarily give message but raise questions. There are many questions, I have aised in Churails about status of a woman in a patriarchal society but I am not giving a moral judgement on it.”
Do you think that Churails would bring a fresh debate or a change in thinking towards women?
I don’t say that the show would bring a mass revolution but I am sure that the art has a power of putting slow but trickledown effect to make a change in the general thinking of society like if this show gives a break to producers to make more shows like this, people would be continually open to what they were not used to and will start accepting it.
“But yes, I want people to watch it especially men and if after watching it, even on a marginal rate, they become empathetic toward what a woman goes through in her life then I think my job is done.”
Which word you have selected to translate ‘Churails’ in English?
I have not changed the word in dubbing and kept it Churail as I wanted this word or term to be known globally. I just translated its literal meaning (witch) in subtitling; otherwise it was going like the same.
“If you go look into the symbolism of witchcraft and churail in the folklores, it is almost the same despite being in different t parts of the worlds. Both of them burned to stake when stood up for their own rights and scared man of that patriarchal society.”
Tell us something about your major cast?
The interesting about casting for a web series that you don’t go for star cast who work on the box office but look for the actors who are really fit for the characters.
These women are really worth for my story, like Sarwat has a lot of personality traits she shares with her character of Sarah, while Nimra had the perfect physique needed for the role of Batool, and Bano, being physically small and petite but feisty worked for Zubaida, yes only Yasra’s portraying of the daring and overconfident Jugnu is a bit different than her actual self but with her skills, she adopted that character smartly.
“All of them have proved themselves as brilliant actors and I am sure Churails will be their careers high and historical performance.”
Filmwala Pictures Is Back With a Historic Drama Masterpiece Khel Khel Mein
The dynamic duo of Pakistani film industry, Nabeel Qureshi & Fizza Ali Meerza, is all set to hit Pakistani Cinemas, yet again with their upcoming film ‘Khel Khel Mein’.
The multi starrer Feature Film will have Sajal Ali and Bilal Abbas in lead roles, along with veterans Javed Sheikh, Samina Ahmed, Marina Khan & Manzar Sehbai. The music of the film is composed by the maestros including Shani Arshad, Shuja Haider & Asrar Shah. This heart-warming drama depicting a youthful take on historic events, will be releasing in cinemas very soon.
The motion poster of the KKM looks promising and fans are eagerly waiting to witness another brilliant piece from the enthusiastic and talented pair, who always tries to give something new in their projects. The lead cast, Sajal Ali and Bilal Abbas Khan has worked together before in television drama serial ‘O Rangreza’. This is their first feature film together.
Fizza Ali Meerza, CEO Filmwala Pictures says about her new venture, “Khel Khel Mein is our take on telling history in a fresh and engaging way to the youth so that it can be learned from and remembered. We hope the viewers will resonate with the story and come out of the theaters feeling more entertained & informed.”
The director of Khel Khel Mein Nabeel Qureshi expressed his delight as, “We are very excited to bring Khel Khel Mein to the screens; the entire team has worked immensely hard to create the film and, we hope that people will love it and learn from it.”
About Filmwala Pictures
Filmwala Pictures is a Pakistani Film Production Company based in Karachi founded by Fizza Ali Meerza. The production house has some of the biggest Pakistani hits under its banner including; Na Maloom Afraad, Actor in Law, Na Maloom Afraad 2 & Load Wedding along with the upcoming film Quaid e Azam Zindabad.
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Junaid Khan Highlights A Grave Issue Of Society In His Latest Video
When it comes to Pakistani performers, who can both act and sing, Junaid Khan comes into mind so quickly. We have witnessed his acting skills recently in dramas like Kashf, Muhabbatein Chahtien and Khuda Aur Muhabbat but his first love music, with which he stared his career as Call band, recurs so often.
Junaid Khan has released a single Taqdeer this eid, which unlike a usual happy song comes out on eids, highlights the grave issue of violence, especially domestic violence which is taking place in almost every household, every class in one way or another. According to singer this video is dedicated to all the victims that have gone through and keep going through all forms of abuse.
About the song and video, Khan pours his heart out, “What I am presenting to the world is not just a song but an ocean of immense emotions. A very grave issue that I lose sleep over.”
The Nishaan singer further says, “When I see and hear abuse, suffering and pain; it takes me into a very dark space. The evil that is spreading so fast in our own society and all over the world, has suffered humanity in the hands of murderers, rapists, abusers and the list just goes on.”
How someone has to suffer in the hands of an oppressor who only knows how to control and torture another human being, he adds.
The Taqdeer is written and composed by Junaid Khan while the video is directed by As-haar Azmat featuring Talat Mahfooz Butt, Shahreen Iftikhar, As-haar Azmat along with Junaid Khan as lead. The track has a grunge-rock feel in it as the video is shot in a dark background to depict the gloom and pain of the theme. Junaid has proved both his singing and acting skills in this five and half minute’s video which carries a powerful message through a conceptual art.
According to the singer, the video emphasizes how the Power, control, money and greed can destroy generations but the message that he wants to send across to the world through this song is with bad comes good and with suffering comes ease and that karma will come around.
Elaborating more about the video, Khan says, “The oppressors are so strong and blinded by their own motives that are larger than other human lives. And there comes a point when the oppressed knows nothing better than accepting this painful life as fate. Taqdeer! And on this very notion my song, my voice and my emotions came to life in the form of this song.”
It is true that cases of domestic violence take place every day. Some get swept under the carpet while some come out in the open. The authorities must need to give importance to every violent act taking place anywhere in the country.
According to a report published by Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) in March 20201, The cases of violence against women and rape in Pakistan were doubled in the last six months of 2020 as compared to the first six months of the year. According to official data analysis, domestic violence (1,422 cases) and violence against women (9,401 cases), had high occurrence throughout country.
I Am Here to Act Not To Be A Star: Bilal Ashraf
Bilal Ashraf is one of a few actors of Pakistan who claimed their fame from films. Unlike his fellow artists, who first established them from television and then came into films when film industry started to revive again after a long hiatus, Ashraf is the only one who enjoys the status of a film star at the moment.
Apart from his acting skills, he also possesses a distinct style whether they are his dimples appears with his full smile or his physique for which he is always very concerned about. Recently he got the Hum Style award for ‘Most Stylish Actor film –Male’ award.
Before coming into acting, Bilal Ashraf worked as visual effects director. He pursued his career in acting with a brief appearance in the 2014 thriller O21. He then starred in the commercially successful romantic drama Janaan (2016), the acclaimed war eulogy Yalghaar (2017) and the blockbuster musical romance Superstar (2019).
This star with pleasant personality and amicable gestures talked to Daily Paperazzi and opened his heart out about many things which are dear to him professionally and personally.
What do you think you get this style award for; the charming dimples or your proper physique?
I think dimples are natural. My parents should be credited for them more. As far as my physique is concerned, I was a fitness freak from my childhood which I always try to maintain.
Did you have any idea of getting this award?
No. I didn’t have any idea of this. In fact I was curious and doubtful about what if I don’t get the award. I am truly thankful and humbled for all those who voted for me and made it possible.
What is style for you?
To me style is one’s personal statement. It is whatever one is comfortable with or in. Some people like dressing up a lot while some wants to look very casual to seem natural. I think whatever you have and carry it off makes your complete style statement.
A lot of controversy has been created after the event of Hum Style Awards 2021. What do you say?
I think the social media has created a lot of controversy around the event. Before this people didn’t have any platform to give their opinion (good or bad) on certain things. I believe that everyone keeps a right to comment (like or dislike) on anything but it should always be thoughtful enough that a comment (positive or negative) have an impact on others. Some people are very strong mentally while others we don’t know are going through a lot of problems. They get adverse effects from these comments which can lead to the mental disorders. Everyone has a journey and struggle with them and have a family and loved ones behind. So please next time criticize constructively like on their work and professional being, and do positive comments as well not always negative.
The clothing of female actors and models participated in the show were also criticized negatively. How would you defy it?
They were style awards where everyone had their own style statements. The same people who are criticizing our celebrities’ clothing, when watch a Hollywood or Bollywood stars as same, in a movie or show, appreciate them. They accept their own stars in desi attires but if any of star has worn something with her will and any designer has given his/her style statement, out-rightly reject them. Don’t take anything personally and if someone is wearing something by his/her will, then please have some courage to accept it. We shouldn’t have double standards and need to be a little careful about that.
Your couple with Maya Ali has become very popular among fans though you both have done a very little work together. Is this a teaser for any big thing happening in future?
Oh. The reality is that Maya and I are very good friends. I have a great respect for her. We discuss a lot about work together. It is true that we have done a very little work together like just a music video and fashion shoot but I wish to do a big project with Maya and learn from her. She is a very hardworking individual and a powerful performer. Whatever project she comes in, it shines.
You have come a bit late in films. Why?
I never wanted to be an actor. I have said it before that I have not come in this field to become a typical hero and to compete with others. Actually film making was a dream of my late sister Sadia but film industry was very limited at that time in Pakistan. Unfortunately she lost her life battling with cancer. So I am here to fulfil the dream of my sister; the film making. Whenever I am acting, I feel her around me.
So now you have joined the field of acting; where do you find yourself standing?
I think we have already very fantastic actors as heroes in our industry. If I have been successful to make some name and fame among them, I feel humble. Now, I will constantly remain standing here till the end to accomplish the dream of my sister.
Cinemas are closed because of Covid and film making is also at standard still. So what alternates you find for acting?
I think it’s time to move towards television dramas. Finally! I think I am the only actor in Pakistan who has just worked in films. When I go abroad, people came for selfies not with Bilal Ashraf but Pakistani cinema. That was a great feeling. But I believe that television is a great platform to learn. You continue to learn in acting as it is a very vast field. So I would love to work in dramas and television and improve my skills by learning more about the trait from the bests in the business. So yes television is next.
How is the journey from Janaan to Superstar, after which when you are literally called the super star of Pakistan?
Honestly speaking, I still don’t consider myself a star. I am an actor who is doing his job and stardom is part of that job. I believe one should accept this fame gracefully as it is a whole baggage where positive and negative comments from people come at the same time.
As far as my journey is concerned, I did Janaan as a fun experience. I had never thought it would be a hit. The second one Rangreza though was a flop but it actually was an eye opener, as you learn more from a failure than success in life. I think a good film is team work which comprised of its producers, director, and actors.
After Rangreza, I revisited the acting. I went to UK and inducted myself in some acting courses there. I became more careful in choosing scripts then. Finally I was lucky to have found the ideal producer Momina Duraid, best director Muhammad Ehteshamuddin and wonderful co-star Mahira Khan for Superstar. Moreover, Momina Bhabi and Ehtesham Bhai also asked me to have some acting courses in NAPA where I really learned a lot. I was the same Bilal but the difference was that I had a very professional team with me. I actually enjoyed this journey.
You have worked with almost all female film actors of Pakistan. Who you wish to work with in Hollywood or Bollywood?
I really admire Sophia Lauren, though she is much senior and not working in films anymore. I also have a dream to work with Maryl Streep.
What are your plans now exactly?
I think films, television and Web series all are in pipeline. Moreover, I am producing many things as well. I would like to mention here that I have launched a production company/production house ‘Beehive Transmedia’ with my mentor (and captain as I call him) Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, for which I am really thankful to him. We work on commercials and feature films, concepts and scripts. It is a one stop creative shop.
Do you believe in dreams?
One thing I would must mention here that believe in your dreams because if you hold it in your head, you can hold it in your hands. Don’t lose believing in you even if something seems impossible because nothing is impossible. Keep on striving for the best.
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