Even before the fourth episode of Ms Marvel began streaming on Wednesday afternoon, Marvel had begun teasing Farhan Akhtar’s much-awaited cameo. On Tuesday night, Ms Marvel and Marvel Studios’ official Instagram accounts shared a clip from the episode, featuring Farhan’s character Waleed. And the cameo did happen, as did a lot of other things. With its focus on south Asian culture and music, Ms Marvel has been the most desi show in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But episode 4 is when the show has really claimed its core desiness, presenting a unique blend of Marvel and south Asian masala cinema. Also read: Farhan Akhtar makes MCU debut in first look from Ms Marvel
Spoilers for Ms Marvel episode 4 ahead!
First things first, Farhan does have a short role on the show. But yes, it is significant. One can understand why Marvel Studios chose to cast a well-known Asian face as Waleed. The character needed certain gravitas and grandeur. But the show also introduces another character played by a famous actor. Aramis Knight of Ender’s Game comes in as Waleed’s deputy Keemo and provides fan with some much-needed action and history of Kamala Khan’s world.
But the biggest change in episode 4 of Ms Marvel is the scenery. So far, the show had been about Kamala Khan, a ‘brown girl from Jersey City’ trying to come to terms with her superpowers. But episode 4 sees Kamala and mother Muneeba jet off to Karachi to meet Muneeba’s ailing mother. Till now, if a superhero show was set in Pakistan or India, it was almost always related to a terror plot. So, the hero coming home to see her ‘nani’ is a refreshing change indeed. Ms Marvel captures Karachi’s beauty and eccentricity but errs where many Western productions have as it tends to exoticise it a bit. The shots of the market, flying kites, and train station do seem to be from a Western gaze, sadly. Given that two-time Oscar winner Pakistani filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy directed the episode, that becomes all the more strange.
But as in the previous episodes, Ms Marvel gets its music spot on. It needed to transport the viewers into Karachi and it steered clear of stereotypical sitaar/santoor tones for that. Instead it goes straightaway to Ali Sethi’s Pasoori, arguably the most-talked about song in the subcontinent right now and the current anthem for Indo-Pak bhaichara online. To top it off, the episode also contains another Pakistani chartbuster–Nazia Hassan’s iconic Disco Deewane, which created waves both sides of the border when it released in 1981.
But at the end of the day, Ms Marvel is a superhero show, not a musical. And it does contain some action, particularly now that it is heading towards its business end. And this episode brought the show into the world of Lollywood and Bollywood through its action sequences. As Kamala (Iman Vellani) and her two new friends (Farhan and Aramis) fight the bad guys in the narrow by lanes of Karachi, we get a throwback to every south Asian masala action film ever in the form of an autorickshaw and truck chase sequence. With trucks flying and bikes crashing, it almost seemed for a moment that director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy had handed over the duties to Rohit Shetty for that sequence. If only there was vegetable cart or two guys crossing a street with a glass pane to complete the action trinity. Also read: Ms Marvel’s Mohan Kapur on Farhan Akhtar and Fawad Khan’s cameos
There’s episodes of Ms Marvel yet to stream, with each releasing on Disney+ globally (and on Disney+ Hotstar in India) every Wednesday. There is still a Fawad Khan cameo to look forward to and more Karachi adventures. Here’s one Marvel show that needs to be applauded for daring to do something different.
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