Ms. Marvel's desi moments reflect the story of every brown teenage woman and I love it
This story contains some spoilers for the first episode of Ms Marvel.
When I first saw the trailer for Ms. Marvel I wondered what irked many netizens about the desi representation or lack thereof. After watching the first episode I can confirm that the netizens were needlessly worried — the show has some major nods to the same desi upbringing we all had, from strict curfews, restrictions on how we dress or asking permission for everywhere we wanted to go. Ms. Marvel is the story of a Muslim teenager who is living her dream and dealing with life at home, just like us.
The show starts off with Kamala saying "finally the moment everyone has been waiting for" as if the soon to be superhero knows very well how long the desi community, especially Pakistanis, have been waiting for her.
Kamala is, of course, the main character of Ms Marvel, but for me, the hyper desi moments were the stars of the show. Here are some moments I loved.
Bismillahs and Astaghfirullahs
In most Pakistani homes, there's going to be a person who will remind you to start everything you do with a Bismillah. Such is the case for Kamala when her brother asks her to make a small prayer before her driving test.
And how can a show about a Pakistani household not include a parent shaking their head in disappointment and saying Astaghfirullah when they don't like something? Kamala's parents uttered a couple of Astaghfirullahs over her obsession with Captain Marvel and some haram policing also made it to the episode when Kamala asked her mom Muneeba's (Zenobia Shroff) permission to go out.
A 'secret' language
The most desi thing I can imagine is using Urdu as a secret language in a country full of non-desis. Kamala's mom did just that when she mocked her driving instructor in Urdu in the opening scene.
In watching Muneeba let a "kaminey" slip out, I realised we all essentially have the same moms who revert to their mother tongues when greatly annoyed. A point to Ms. Marvel for recognising and representing that!
Kamala vs Aamir, the story of every sister and brother
Kamala has a brother, Aamir, and in every desi household, women are compared to their brothers. It looks like we're all in the same boat.
In the show, Kamala is seen preparing for her brother's wedding but at the same time she struggles to escape her parents scrutinising her every move. When not given permission to go somewhere, she drags her brother in and compares how he easily gets his way.
The episode also featured Aamir asking Kamala to unpack the groceries after their mother asked him to do it. This is the story of every desi brother and sister and seeing it represented in Ms Marvel made it feel even more real.
Desi parents and their obsession with shalwar kameez
Of course, Kamala had to have a shalwar kameez moment in the very first episode of the show. After she goes to great lengths to impress her parents and get permission to go to Avengers Con, Kamala's parents come up with a solution — Hulk-themed shalwar kameez. Her father was comically dressed in matching Hulk attire — a green kurta with bright purple details.
The emphasis on wearing shalwar kameez was familiar because I'm sure there are many other women like me who feel pressured to dress a certain way because of our parents. In that moment, I felt even more connected to Kamala as she sighed in disappointment over her parents' shenanigans.
Desi music reigns supreme
While I liked 'Blinding Lights' by The Weeknd as the main track, the first episode didn't let me down when it came to the desi music it had to offer. Kamala entered school to an upbeat song that turned out to be Riz Ahmed's 'Deal With It'.
The first episode featured 'Oh Nanba' from Rajinikanth's Tamil film Lingaa, Ahmed Rushdi's 'Ko Ko Korina', Pakistani film Babul Veer's song 'Sohniye I Love You' by Naheed Akhtar and 'Rozi' by Eva B and I loved every second of it.
Who is Kamala Khan?
In the show, actor Iman Vellani plays 16-year-old Kamala, a Pakistani-American teenager who lives in Jersey City. Kamala is an aspiring artist, an avid gamer, and a voracious fan-fiction scribe. She is also a huge fan of the Avengers — and one in particular, Captain Marvel. But Kamala has always struggled to find her place in the world — that is until she gets super powers like the heroes she’s always looked up to.
Ms Marvel is being helmed by Oscar-winning Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, Meera Menon, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah. While it premiered on Disney+ on Wednesday, Marvel Studios will be releasing Ms. Marvel exclusively in cinemas in Pakistan next week. Episodes one and two will debut on June 16, three and four on June 30 and five and six on July 14.
The cast includes Aramis Knight, Matt Lintz, Saagar Shaikh, Rish Shah, Mohan Kapoor, Farhan Akhtar, Nimra Bucha, Mehwish Hayat, Samina Ahmed, Shroff, Yasmeen Fletcher, Travina Springer, Laurel Marsden, Laith Nakli, Azhra Usman and Fawad Khan.