If you are South Asian and have seen the latest episode of Ms. Marvel, the train station scene would have hit too close to home for your comfort. If you are part of the global audience, you have witnessed only a fraction of the pain and suffering that millions of people endured during one of the world’s greatest mass migrations. India and Pakistan were divided in 1947 when the British left the country, and this moment in the history of these two countries is marked by violence, loss of life and separation anxiety. The partition of the Indian subcontinent has very rarely been seen on screen. Sharmeen Obaid-ChinoyDirector of Ms. Marvel episodes 4 and 5 did a great job of depicting the event that still affects millions of people in both countries.
Obaid-Chinoy, a two-time Oscar and seven-time Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, was perfect for taking on Kamala (Iman Vellani) back to basics since the filmmaker has devoted her life to documenting the partition of India. In a recent interview with THR, she revealed, “I started an oral history archive in Pakistan in 2007. It is the largest partition oral history archive in Pakistan. We have therefore recorded more than 3,000 interviews and we have more than 40,000 photographs from 1947 in our archives. We also built the first partition museum in Pakistan.
During episodes 4 and 5, Kamala travels back in time to learn more about her powers and her great-grandmother Aisha. Drawing inspiration from her own work, the Pakistani-Canadian filmmaker has also delved into the oral histories of the Citizens Archive of India as well as Margaret BourkeWhite‘s photographs, which in 1947 photographed processions leaving their homes, refugee tent camps and railway stations. Obaid-Chinoy explained,
So in episodes four and five, every image that deals with the score is a recreation of an image that I had seen and wanted to bring to life in this story. For the first time, we had the opportunity to tell the story of the score to a truly global and international audience. So the script came with the responsibility on my part to do justice to that era. So many of our stories and so many of our families are tied to 1947, and that’s something I took very seriously in recreating.
Episode 5 reveals that it was Kamala who helped young Sana (Zion Usman) on the train, not Aisha (Mehwish Hayat). Obaid-Chinoy wanted to create tension on a level where fans and Kamala could feel the pain of estranged father, mother and daughter. She explained,
So for the first half of the score, I wanted Kamala to be Kamala. I didn’t want her to be a superhero because she was going to bear witness to this very important historical moment. And when she first stepped onto the platform, I wanted her to hear snippets of people’s conversations and to understand what it meant to people to leave their homes, their lives, their best friends and members of their family. I wanted her to understand where she was before she found her great grandmother [Aisha] and saved his grandmother [Sana].
The director also clarified the star trail that confused fans as to who created them Kamala, Sana or Aisha. She revealed, “They were from Kamala. She saved her grandmother. When she fell, it shattered the platforms she was creating, but this resulted in the star trail, which Hasan saw.
After the events of Episode 5, Kamala should be back in New Jersey to rescue Bruno and Kamran from the DODC. Ms. Marvel The finale will air on July 13.