Updated: Dec 4, 2022
Colors, samosas, and biryani… exactly what my Marvel-obsessed heart wanted and needed. Couple that with the music of my childhood, and I was in comfort heaven. Thank you, Ms. Marvel!
I am a self-confessed Marvel fanatic. I have watched each movie and TV show multiple times, even when they don’t deserve it (yes, I’m talking about She-Hulk). But Ms. Marvel reached another level for me and can probably recite the dialogues unconsciously.
Official Ms. Marvel poster. Image courtesy Disney+
This year started sad and disappointing because I realized I had been stuck in the U.S. for another year. That feeling worsened in the summer when my tentative plan to travel back to India in August (or even December) fell apart because of the lack of student visa renewal appointments, which meant I would probably be stuck for another year. While I am glad to have the opportunity to pursue my Ph.D. in the U.S., situations like these make me second guess my decision and at that moment I was tempted to chuck it all and go back home to my family. Even a short trip in May to hang out with some close friends only alleviated my feelings briefly before swinging right back to irritation and disappointment. I know I'm not the only international student stuck far away from home, but emotionally I felt truly alone. However, June brought with it the Ms. Marvel premiere and what was meant to be a tiny distraction in my day turned into rolling waves of inspiration.
One of my best friends, her partner, and I have a tradition of watching all the MCU movies and TV shows either together or around the same time so that we can dissect them and speculate what will come next. But our Ms. Marvel discussions went longer than the earlier shows because nostalgia became a huge part of our ramblings. The creators of Ms. Marvel not only brought out the quirks and nuances of a South Asian diasporic family but also emotionally bridged different generations within the Indian subcontinent.
The easy switch between Urdu and English, the overprotective yet cool parents, the seamless weaving of Desi music into scenes, and the endless shots of biryani (I’m salivating as I write this) only scratch the surface of how much South Asian culture was packed into the show. The fact that they also delicately incorporated the partition of India and Pakistan, along with the emotional weight of a whole generation of people wasn’t lost to me or any other South Asian viewer. Nothing felt cliched yet seemed layered and comforting. And for the three of us, millennials, the show also incorporated the trends and (good) tropes of newer Western movies and TV shows. For me personally, what truly stood on in the show was the music.
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty/Facebook
The showrunners included music from Desi music greats like A.R. Rahman, Lata Mangeshkar, and Nazia Hassan but also had music from artists I listen to today—Eva B., Ali Sethi, Ritviz, Tesher, and Hasan Raheem. Even various critics have praised the soundtrack. The Daily Beast found the soundtrack special because of how “little regard it paid to whether or not Western viewers would recognize the music”. Variety has called the soundtrack “colorful and splashy” that matched the visuals of the show. But what really tripped me up was that they incorporated so many songs from the latest season of Coke Studio Pakistan.
Season 14 of Coke Studio Pakistan has been trending since its release but has also been playing on a loop for me since early this year. The fact that Ms. Marvel featured the songs that have become part of my workout routine, my daily walk-to-work routine, and my wind-down routine got me hooked to the show even more. I also found that the weekly routine of watching the show and the following discussion inspired me in other parts of my life. I started reading more for my dissertation, making more notes, and jotting down ideas for future projects. I paid more attention to my physical health, upping my exercise time, and adding back mom-inspired healthy home-cooked Indian food into my diet. Plus, my mental health, which had taken a beating, has improved tremendously since then. I feel more energized, motivated, and inspired. Sure, I still have my downs, but it has mostly been on the up since then. It also helped that my parents and brother were able to visit me in August, adding another infusion of "home" to my heart that was already filling up with Desi nostalgia.
To close, I want to quote something Shivani Dubey said in her Daily Beast article about Ms. Marvel’s music.
“Is this how white people feel all the time while consuming content? Because I’d like to feel like this all the time too.”
Dear readers, it's now your turn. Listen to Ms. Marvel's soundtrack and hopefully, this will inspire you, just as it has me.