Churails: A Subcontinental Samhain by Rida Akhtar Ghumman

Global pop culture has stymied patriarchal benefactions in ways that transcend mere metaphors and metamorphose resistance rather creatively and vivaciously. Often quoted as another wave of feminism, the multi-media creative resistance movements against patriarchy: a cynical conjecture of unjust power distribution, are gradually becoming a majestic hospice that not only helps victims and sufferers but also aims to protest, destabilize, reinterpret and thus create homogenous ideas of power distribution especially rooted in the idea of endemic equality. Churails, written and directed my Asim Abbasi, is probably a first of its kind web series that presents a Sub-Continental resistance equal to the idea of a Celtic Samhain.

Samhain, a Celtic tradition from the medieval times, paved the way for Halloween, celebrated every year in the end of October, is often only equated to a branch of neo-paganism. However, any ideas of revival of life forces, i.e. empowering living units to take back from prejudiced selective power structures is a form of Samhain. Though interpretations of Samhain: End of Summer, are manifold, interpreting Churails from it is a political act and not a religious or traditional one. Churails demotivates oppressors with violent means.

A group of distinct members, mostly women, comes together in the guise of a business venture and helps oppressed people, especially women in getting rid of the systemic oppression. Samhain though started as an idea of fearing and praying naturalized into resisting the darkness of winters. Since end of October mainly means entering into a tougher weather, Samhain also is a harbinger of toughness, thus denoting a period of unity, precision, planning and revolution. To counterfeit the perils of winter, ancient Celts made sacrifices to enlighten the forthcoming difficult winters. Churails, an Urdu variant of witches, is a group of women who make certain sacrifices to help build a rather dexteriously just system where they break the nails of a bully for he broke the nails of his victim. Churails is a ten episode series that starts by introducing the members of the group Churails (witches) and how they come together after undergoing patriarchal oppression. The series ends with a different idea of power dissemination where tints of equality, even if in discursive metaphors, are visible and all through a process of struggle, mistakes, disabilities, violence and unity.

Neo-pagans acknowledging the ancient Celtic Samhain, hold a Witch’s Ball marked with dance and music in the Halloween week. Churails, metaphorically, acknowledges such a Witch’s Ball through its plot: rooted in a spooky resistance against propaganda, patriarchal white elephants and men in power amassing wealth through dexteriously woven capitalism. This Witch’s Ball first is organized by these very patriarchs, but somewhat gets ravaged in the loop of a forthcoming resistance. The plot of Churails follows love, lust, loss and redemption meandered in politics.

Churails also scares a viewer and simultaneously makes them aware of tightly knitted oppressions especially on people of color, the queer and minorities. These power dynamics of oppression are not only guilty of economic hegemonies but also tend to the villainous guilty pleasures of patriarchs who in sheer irony are enslaved by the mere audacity of their privileges. Watching the series especially in October can be a political omen where viewers can see not only find alternative ideas of Halloween, but also acquaint with metaphors from the Sub-continent, her music, her people and the creative universality of global resistive movements.

Rida Akhtar Ghumman is a post-grad student of English Literature based in Pakistan. Typically interested in pop culture reviews, books of all kinds and literary revolutions. She can be reached on Twitter and Instagram at @RidaAkhtar_

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