From heritage sites to Chinese dentists: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy opens up about showcasing Karachi in Ms. Marvel

From heritage sites to Chinese dentists: Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy opens up about showcasing Karachi in Ms. Marvel

The filmmaker said she wanted to immerse Kamala in the city and the landmarks she grew up with.
06 Jul, 2022

Ms. Marvel has earned a special place in the hearts of desis thanks to its representation and Kamala Khan. The fourth episode of the show had multiple nods to her heritage by featuring Karachi and sending Kamala on a sight-seeing adventure. A lot went in to creating the Karachi we saw on screen and filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy wants to talk about it.

Taking it to Instagram on Tuesday, Chinoy shared a behind the scenes clip of how they created the Karachi we saw in Ms Marvel from the street vendors in the old city areas of the city, the heritage walk, hidden gems within the crammed streets as well as the railway station that plays a vital role in Kamala’s story.

“I wanted to immerse Kamala into my Karachi and I thought about all of the landmarks that have been part of my childhood, the things I’ve enjoyed doing and so the heritage walk, which is a walk through the old town, I wanted to put her on the streets so she walked amongst the stalls that sell clocks and brightly coloured clothes, the perfumes that get sold,” the director explained.

“We have this phenomena of Chinese dentists, so everywhere she went, from the Chinese restaurant ABC, which is where I grew up eating Chinese food, to when Kamala goes to the train station in Karachi, it was important to have the way the porters were dressed, the red coloured outfits and Kamala’s grandmother’s house is imagined as an old part of Karachi.”

She also said both her and DOP Jules O’Loughlin worked closely to make sure the yellow filter, often used to show the global south, is “done away with” as they bring the city to life through Kamala’s eyes while she uncovers her past, history and relationships.

The director earlier also shared a video clip on Instagram where she talked about the traditional transportation of Karachi being a part of the show as well. “Karachi is my home. When I thought about bringing Kamala into that world, I wanted it to be colourful, I wanted to bring its buses that are brightly coloured, its trucks that have beautiful handwork on them, its rickshaws and taxis. I wanted Kamala to take the audiences on a venture through the city of Karachi where she goes to uncover her past.”

The fourth episode has been the most talked about one yet, mainly for its inclusion of the acutely desi experiences Kamala had, from eating pani puri, the heritage walk, the ride in a rickshaw, eating biryani out of a plastic bag, or even bargaining with a street vendor over a shirt. The end of the episode, where Kamala was transported her to 1947, the year of Partition where her grandmother Sana (Samina Ahmed) was separated from her father Hassan (Fawad Khan) for a short while, was also particularly intriguing to viewers.

The rest of the cast includes, Nimra Bucha, Mehwish Hayat, Farhan Akhtar, Aramis Knight, Matt Lintz, Saagar Shaikh, Rish Shah, Mohan Kapoor, Zenobia Shroff, Yasmeen Fletcher, Travina Springer, Laurel Marsden, Laith Nakli, Vardah Aziz, Asfandyar Khan and Azhra Usman.

New episodes for the show release every Wednesday and are also being screened in theatres in Pakistan. Episode 3 and 4 are currently being shown in theatres while episodes 5 and 6 will hit theatres on July 15.