Animals And Slingshots — The Complex Symbolism Of Churails

Churails is making waves on the internet.

This is not a review, but in case you’re curious about my take on it, I loved the show to the extent where I, embarrassingly, spent days flooding the actors’ Instagram comment sections with unfiltered fan-mail. Consequently, it is best suited if you think of this as a fan-theory about the symbolism in the show. 

This piece does contain spoilers and I will get into detail about the depiction of animal abuse, murder, harassment, kidnapping, trafficking  and assault in the show, so be warned before you proceed.

A consistent theme in Churails happens to be how the “boys will be boys” notion is socially learned, internalised, and bred through generations, including various points where we saw adults validate atrocious behaviour in young boys. Some examples include Jamil laughing it off when Salaar harassed a woman, Jamil’s mother giving Salaar a sling-shot to play with and Ifti appreciating and further guiding the boys when they killed a squirrel in the flash-back. 

Perhaps the sling-shot was used to symbolize the free pass that our patriarchal society provides men to cause damage without facing accountability. Maybe that’s why Ifti taught young Jamil and KK how to use it properly and why Jamil’s mother gave it to Salaar. It was possibly used to symbolise passing male privilege through generations.

In parts of the show, we see KK, Jamil and Ifti equate love with subordination and domestication. Young Jamil and Ifti wear unsuspicious and innocent animal hats and call themselves the animal club, no one would imagine that these kids hunt down animals and preserve their dead bodies. 

Ifti also teaches them to treat their prey with respect, since hunting is an art in his eyes. Later, Ifti talks about how he loves women, almost exactly how Jamil and KK seemingly “loved” animals. Ifti quite literally grooms KK and Jamil to become predators. They hunt down and prey on animals when they’re children, and on women when they’re older.

On another occasion, Ifti is seen talking about how certain groups of people have to be subordinated for their own good. Perhaps this refers to the lack of remorse found in these men, since they justified everything they did by claiming that they respect and love their victims and are only looking out for them. 

In a rather creepy sequence of events, we see KK preserve Sheila’s dead body in a very similar fashion to how he used to preserve dead squirrels as a child, a factor possibly hinting at how toxic behaviour is internalised for years and only gets worse with time if not reprimanded. 

Another thing I noticed was how when the men were rating different body parts of the girls in the party, the body parts were not named as human body parts. Words such as mane and rump were used in this context, these words are typically used to describe animals’ body parts. 

I thought that Ifti eating steak had something to do with the animal analogy as well. I was reading an interview of the writer/director Asim Abbasi with Film Companion, who said: “Jugnu’s uncle eating steak was more foreshadowing of the hunt that was to come”. 

Time and time again, Churails visually depicts the resurfacing of trauma for the characters. In one such sequence, we see Jugnu have a flashback from when she got an abortion. The doctor performing the procedure seems like a circus animal and Jugnu’s father is a ring-master. Circus animals only listen to ring-masters, which possibly reflects the lack of autonomy Jugnu had in making the decision. 

Another recurring symbol that added perfectly to the convoluted visuals was a group of little boys with water guns. They were seen on multiple occasions. They were seen hammering a giant tooth when Zubaida’s captor broke her tooth, they were seen shooting water at a baby girl in her cot, and they appeared around Mehak when she was in the waiting room at White Rose. 

My take on the boys with guns was how the boys are a depiction of diverse groups of men who unite to intimidate, I still wasn’t sure entirely so I decided to consult a few people. 

Twitter user, Marryam Kamran, gave me a very in depth analysis when I asked her for her take on it. She personally thought that the kids symbolise the way men are raised, regardless of social class. “Some are in suits and some are in shalwar kameez. This signifies the class difference between them. I think that it means the way you raise boys without any repercussions for their behavior causes them to develop a mind that is all too similar whether they’ve had their education from a boarding school in england or even if they’re illiterate”, she elaborated. She also believed that Salaar harassing a woman reinstated this idea. 

At the end of the day. Churails is a piece of art and art is open to interpretation. My perspective on it could differ from how other people see its symbolism. I’m happy with it as long as it compels me, and others to think and to reform, setting off a mini revolution within our brains. 

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