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Ms Marvel: `Seeing Red` episode portrays horrors of India`s partition

Vellani stars as the Pakistani-American teenager Kamala Khan in this Bisha K. Ali creation.

Ms Marvel: `Seeing Red` episode portrays horrors of India`s partition

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  2 July 2022 5:15 AM GMT

Iman Vellani-led Marvel TV series 'Ms Marvel' has ushered in some much-needed South Asian representation in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is the recipe for this show's success and critical acclaim. This is also the reason many in the western countries with no knowledge of the region are left feeling alienated as the desi references in the show are going over their heads.

Vellani stars as the Pakistani-American teenager Kamala Khan in this Bisha K. Ali creation. Kamala is a diehard fan of the Avengers, particularly Carol Danvers, and gets superpowers herself after she acquires a mysterious bangle.

She is able to harness cosmic energy and use solidified light. The series is a departure from the superhero's origins in the comics, in which she got powers due to the Inhuman gene in the wake of the Infinity storyline (her arc is worth reading, especially if you liked the series).

Like 'Black Panther' and 'Shang-Chi', movies that brought the perspective of African-Americans and Asian-Americans to MCU, 'Ms Marvel' is firmly rooted in South Asian cultures. Fans in India and Pakistan and the desi diaspora are tickled by references to Bollywood and Shah Rukh Khan, dialogues in Urdu/Hindi, Kamala's forbidding parents that are the reality of nearly every desi kid, and the presence of Hindi filmmaker and actor Farhan Akhtar as Waleed, the leader of the vigilante group. All that makes 'Ms Marvel' one of the most refreshing MCU properties.

But it may be the last episode, titled "Seeing Red", that may have affected desi fans of the show the most. For it deals with a seismic event in modern South Asian history that continues to affect lives even after nearly 75 years: the Partition. After two centuries of oppression and violence, even the procedure of the British's departure was chaotic. Due to demands the country was carved up to give a separate state to Muslims.

But the messy division saw riots and rampant violence on both sides of the border. Estimates of deaths range from 200,000 to 2 million. Large swathes of Punjab and Bengal were reduced to smouldering ruins. Millions lost their families, their homes, and their sense of belonging.

"Seeing Red" is mostly set in Karachi, a coastal metropolis and the financial capital of Pakistan, Kamala also got to talk to her nani (maternal grandmother) about the Partition and how it is like a wound in the psyche of millions, even billions, that keeps festering with no healing possible.

"My passport is Pakistani, and my roots are Indian. And in between is a border built with blood and pain. People are claiming their identity based on an idea some old Englishmen had," says Sana, Kamala's nani.

Towards the end of the episode, Kamala gets visions (or maybe time-travel?) of the madness and chaos that accompanied the Partition. It is a heartbreaking way to end an emotion-laden episode. 'Ms Marvel' streams on Disney+ Hotstar in India. (Agencies)

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