‘There are a lot of misconceptions about us’: Mehwish Hayat proud of Pakistani culture shown in Ms. Marvel
There are two characters other than Iman Vellani’s Ms Marvel that have excited desis and those are Mehwish Hayat’s Aisha and Fawad Khan’s Hasan, Kamala’s great grandparents. And Hayat is excited about it too because she feels there are a lot of misconceptions about Pakistanis.
The Load Wedding actor appeared on an interview with Disney Central where she talked about her “mysterious” role, comparisons between Hollywood and the Pakistani entertainment industry, representation of Pakistanis and Muslims and how Vellani is playing Kamala.
Starting off with her character Aisha, Hayat said she can’t say much apart from the fact that she is “a Djinn and Kamala’s great grandmother”. You’ll have to wait for another episode to find out more about her. She was, perhaps, hinting that the fifth episode of the show is the end for her character.
Talking about shooting scenes for Ms Marvel, Hayat said most of her scenes were shot in Thailand and some in Pakistan. She called it a “wonderful experience” being a part of a big production.
“I actually lost count of the nationalities that were part of creating this whole magical journey for people to experience. But it was literally a moment of me where I was sitting there and thinking, wow, this is all real. This was a really fascinating experience for me.”
She was also asked about the difference between the Pakistani entertainment industry and her experience of working in Hollywood and the similarities between the two. “Our industry is very small and it’s still in its infancy. What we do is whatever resources we have, we try to make the best out of it. But when you talk about the biggest franchise in Hollywood, there is no comparison,” she said.
“But for me, it does not matter where I am, who I am with and what I’m working for. Once the camera or the red light of the camera turns on and I’m in front of it, it really doesn’t matter. It’s the same for me as an artist. It’s about me and the character and my relation with the camera. Be it in Pakistan, in the movies or in shows, or even when shooting for Ms. Marvel, as an artist it’s always the same but it’s what’s around [you] that makes so much of a difference.”
She explained that she learnt a lot and so much of it can be applied and implemented in the Pakistani industry, bringing improvement in what’s done here.
Drawing attention to one of the most important parts of the show — representation — Hayat confessed that as a Pakistani and a Muslim herself, she would often get “frustrated” with the way the community was “misrepresented on the screen in the West and in Bollywood”. “If there would be a Muslim character, it would always be a villain, they would always be the troublemakers, the women would be the subjugated women.”
For her, Ms. Marvel was the answer to her prayers, something that as a Pakistani and a Muslim she felt like was “needed” because she has always asked for fair and balanced portrayal and the show does exactly that. “Scenes at the mosque, words like Bismillah and Ma Sha Allah being used. Who would’ve imagined it happening? It’s headed in the right direction. Nakia being a hijabi and being very proud of it. Imagine how many girls this is representing as well as the two billion Muslims represented in the show.”
And that pride of being represented doubled in episode four of the show when Karachi was showcased. “You have no idea what it means to me and the people that live there. For Karachiites to see the Clifton Bridge, Teen Talwar, to see our beach, It’s literally a dream come true for us. It makes my heart swell with pride.”
She concluded by wishing Vellani well and said she sees a younger version of herself in her. “She has great ideas and the presence, the authenticity she brings to Kamala’s character, I cannot imagine anybody else playing that role. For me Kamala Khan is Iman Vellani and Iman Vellani is Kamala Khan forever.”
Aisha, her character, is first shown in Ms Marvel finding the bangle that contains Kamala’s powers and trying to save the Clandestines and help them return home.
Episodes for Ms. Marvel drop every Wednesday on Disney+. They are also being screened in Pakistan exclusively. Episodes 3 and 4 are currently being shown in theatres while episodes 5 and 6 will hit theatres on July 15.