There is a dusky Churail on the loose and seems like there is no stopping her. Yasra Rizvi is here to change the game and the proof lies in the plethora of praises pouring in for her role as ‘Jugnu’ in Zee5’s web-series ‘Churails’.
People have surely underestimated her and some might even have dismissed her for being an not-so-glamorous performer in the past. Those who have an eye to spot a diamond would have realized that she is an underrated artist.
All those who follow her on social media are a fan of her moving poetry recitals. She is real, raw and her unpretentious style make her appear as a modest, humble and a natural beauty. So when we witnessed her shine as the savvy and swanky wedding planner-turned-detective agent in Asim Abbasi’s Churails, we were floored by her dynamic transformation.
But this change has been beyond the surface for Yasra. It has been a metamorphosis on an emotional level, one she is willing to stay close to!
We sat down with Yasra for a heart-to-heart and asked her about her experience working with her now close clan of Churails; Sarwat Gillani, Nimra Bucha, and Meher Bano. In blithe spirit, Yasra talks about her life being a Churail. Read on:
This web-series will surely redefine the word ‘Churail’ for Pakistanis and so many other things. How do you feel being part of this massive change?
I am also hoping that this change is also for non-resident Pakistanis, Indians all over the world, and people who understand Urdu in which the narrative is made. I feel great about being a part of this massive change. I am a proud Churail.
We feel you differ a lot from Jugnu in real life. Are we correct and how did you prepare for such a challenging avatar?
It’s quite true, especially superficially and how I look. I am not that high fashion in real life. I like to keep things simple and basic. That part was a challenge but it was taken care of by the production designer, Aarij Hashimi, and the stylist, Samya Ansari. They helped me not just with my outfits and making the whole look work, but they coached me all the way through. I fell on the sets a lot because I was wearing heels as I am not used to wearing them much.
But on an emotional level, there were a lot of common grounds and things I could connect to Jugnu- the whole deflection bit, letting the demons just hover and not addressing them. We are similar like that!
Jugnu Chaudhry is someone who evolves and when I read her on paper, I realized that there is a clear-cut evolution in her character. When I donned the avatar, I felt there was so much there in her persona to work on. What I loved the most about her was that she welcomed change. She was open and she remained open to changing herself, her life, and her world view. I found her very fluid and by playing Jugnu, I discovered that I was like that too but I lost that about myself. I have found it again and I am planning to keep it.
How was it working with Asim and all the savage women in the cast?
The savage women celebrated sisterhood on the sets. We had a great time and all the women got along. We grew much closer and became real-life friends through this project.
Asim is a tough negotiator and he doesn’t give in soon. As a director, he knows what he wants and it was a challenge as an actor to be with such a director. The good thing about it is that he pushes the actor to the best-possible potential. But the downside is that you are constantly wondering if you are doing good or not. This was good for me as a performer. Consequently, it was an emotional, creative, interactive, tense yet rewarding relationship with him as an actor. I broke myself down for this character and it was worth doing it. I needed that kick in the butt.
So tell us who your favorite Churail is, both in real and reel life?
It is impossible to choose your favorite Churail. We don’t do that in the Churail tribe. (laughs) In real life, my favorite Churail would be my mom, who is also a Churail. We took a lot of time to realize that we are both Churails and acknowledging and respecting that about each other.
Do you think releasing Pakistani content on an Indian streaming platform can again stir noise from extremist elements across the border?
The exchange of art is there to build compassion in the hearts of the audience. We follow Bollywood stars, they are followed and loved here. Similarly, our stories also need to be told to our neighboring nations.
Sadly, it is a long process with Netflix and Amazon. We don’t have a local OTT that is very prominent and is on its way to becoming huge. So when a global OTT platform offers you an opportunity, you seize that chance and spread your stories in 191 countries. That is the work of the artist. Now, if someone objects to it, then it’s the matter of those factions of society who deem it wrong or right. As an artist, it is our job to stay in reality and our work as well.
How are you expecting the response to be? Do you think the web-series can be controversial for some members of the audience?
Something or the other will always be controversial or scandalous for someone or the other. I see why the television has limitations due to its placement in the households and its communal viewing pattern.
There has to be a place to address realistic themes that exist in your life and your society, a medium where there are such no limitations. So the web is that place where it’s open for all, yet very niche. On such a medium, you must address such themes and actual problems that you live with it in a more up-close and personal fashion.