Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy on ‘Ms Marvel’: Farhan Akhtar assumed the role the minute he put on the costume

The director says when the ‘Toofan’ star stepped out on set, it was as if he was there to play the role of the leader of the vigilante group, Red Daggers

July 14, 2022 03:35 pm | Updated 05:10 pm IST

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (left) on the sets of ‘Ms Marvel’

Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy (left) on the sets of ‘Ms Marvel’

Ms Marvel, the latest Marvel web series has come to a sweet end, with 16-year-old fan-girl Kamala (Iman Vellani) finding her destiny as well a connection between her name and Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel. There was a lot of excitement regarding actor-director Farhan Akhtar and Fawad Khan being cast in the six-part series. Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy, who directed episodes 4 (‘Seeing Red’) and 5 (‘Time and Again’) where the two appear, shares the experience of recreating Karachi in Bangkok and the joy of directing Farhan.

“I wanted to make sure that the vibrancy of Karachi would come out,” says Obaid-Chinoy speaking over a video call from Karachi. “We have the buses, trucks and carts, basically the vehicles that you normally see in Karachi, on the streets in Thailand.”

The Academy Award-winning director of documentaries such as Saving Face and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness, says the crew recreated the landmarks of Karachi. “The Chinese restaurant, which is a hallmark of Karachi, the heritage walk and Clifton Beach... We wanted to make sure that it was as authentic as possible. We worked with the art director and costume designers to create props to make sure that the world we were creating was as authentic as possible.”

Farhan Akhtar as the leader of the Red Daggers, Waleed, in Ms Marvel

Farhan Akhtar as the leader of the Red Daggers, Waleed, in Ms Marvel

Working in Thailand, the 43-year-old director says, meant that one had access to all things necessary for an authentic look and feel. “We had artisans who came in from both India and Pakistan.”

Farhan, Obaid-Chinoy says, plays Waleed, the leader of a vigilante group known as the Red Daggers. “He plays an important role. He comes in at a time when Kamala is lost and does not know the journey that she is going on. Waleed reassures her that she has a higher connection that she is meant to follow her voice. He tells her, her bangle is the key to finding out where she is going. He also explains what the Red Daggers do. For me the most touching moment is when he tells Kamala, ‘You’re now almost part of the Red Daggers’, and sacrifices himself to protect Kamala.”

An ensemble cast of both Indian and Pakistani actors, drawing from the diaspora as well as from India was very special, says Obaid-Chinoy. “Farhan is such an incredible actor and he bought his voice. He has a way of bringing authority to the order of Red Daggers. He assumed the role the minute he put on the costume that we had designed for him.”

When he stepped out on set in the lair, Obaid-Chinoy says, it was as if he was there to play that role. “He was authoritative, but also reassuring to Kamala in the scene where he is providing information.”

And for all who are wondering why the show uses Hindi rather than Urdu or Punjabi, Obaid-Chinoy says, “The language being spoken in the show is Urdu. It is actually the same as Hindi barring a few words here or there.”

Ms Marvel is currently streaming on Disney+ Hotstar

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