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‘It’s Headed In Right Direction’

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After giving the world a black superhero in Black Panther, Marvel broke yet another stereotype by introducing a Muslim superhero in the recently released miniseries Ms. Marvel. While Iman Vellani essays the role of the lead protagonist, Pakistani actor Mehwish Hayat plays Vellani’s great-grandmother aka the original owner of the mystic bangle in the fantasy superhero show.

Now, during her latest interaction with Disney Central, Mehwish Hayat spoke candidly about Muslim representation on a global platform, thereby sharing her experience of working on a Hollywood project. For Hayat, it was a fascinating experience as she reportedly couldn’t imagine that the whole journey was real. When asked about the comparison between the Pakistani entertainment industry and Hollywood, Hayat aptly pointed out how both are extremely different from each other. According to her, the Pakistani industry is still in its infancy and there’s a long way for them to grow, meanwhile Hollywood is a global platform. “There is no comparison,” shared Hayat.

However, on a personal note, Hayat said that the difference between the Pakistani and Hollywood industry gets erased in her mind when she’s in front of the camera. She asserts that be it shooting for a Pakistani movie, show, or Ms. Marvel, her passion for acting remains unchanged.

“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,” she added.

Further, she opened up about the stereotypical representation of Muslim characters throughout the world. Hayat has often found herself being frustrated over the representation of the Islamic community on big screens. She highlighted how Muslim characters are always portrayed to be villainous, when it comes to women they are subjugated.

However, Ms. Marvel openly draws attention to the misrepresented narrative by showcasing the community in a positive light. For her using words like Bismillah Ma Sha Allah in a Marvel project is a big step in the right direction. Hayat elaborated, “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.”

Before concluding the interaction she also praised the lead protagonist of the series Iman Vellani. As per Hayat, Vellani is an authentic actor who brings sheer creativity to the table. She concluded, “She has great ideas and the presence, the authenticity she brings to Kamala’s character, I cannot imagine anybody else playing that role.”

Created by Bisha K Ali, Ms. Marvel is the seventh television miniseries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that was released after Moon Knight. The plot of the show chronicles the life of a 16-year-old Avengers fangirl, who goes through an immense struggle to find a place of her own in the superhero universe after gaining power. Apart from Mehwish Hayat, Fawad Khan is another Pakistani actor who is a part of the Marvel show.

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