Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Pakistani-American Female Superhero Debuts in 2014

The new Ms. Marvel’s real name is Kamala Khan, a 16-year-old Muslim Pakistani-American girl from Jersey City, New Jersey. “Kamala has all of her opportunities in front her and she is loaded with potential, but her parents’ high expectations come with tons of pressure,” says Marvel's press release. “When Kamala suddenly gets powers that give her the opportunity to be just like her idol, Captain Marvel, it challenges the very core of her conservative values.”

Source: Marvel Entertainment
Kamala Khan as Ms. Marvel is the first comic book character from Marvel Entertainment who is both female and Muslim. It is part of the American comic giant's efforts to reflect a growing diversity among its readers.

The new Ms. Marvel series is mainly the work of two women: G. Willow Wilson, a convert to Islam who created the character, and Sana Amanat who edits it.

Here's how Wilson describes the main character of the comic: "Islam is both an essential part of her identity and something she struggles mightily with. She's not a poster girl for the religion, or some kind of token minority. She does not cover her hair –most American Muslim women don't—and she's going through a rebellious phase. She wants to go to parties and stay out past 9 PM and feel “normal.” Yet at the same time, she feels the need to defend her family and their beliefs".

Ms. Wilson says the series is “about the universal experience of all American teenagers, feeling kind of isolated and finding what they are.” Though here, she told New York Times, that happens “through the lens of being a Muslim-American” with superpowers.

Source: Marvel Entertainment
Elaborating on the superhero character, series editor Sana Amanat said the following in an interview published on Marvel.com website: "As much as Islam is a part of Kamala’s identity, this book isn’t preaching about religion or the Islamic faith in particular. It’s about what happens when you struggle with the labels imposed on you, and how that forms your sense of self. It’s a struggle we’ve all faced in one form or another, and isn’t just particular to Kamala because she’s Muslim. Her religion is just one aspect of the many ways she defines herself".

The Marvel series is set for launch in February, 2014. Earlier this year, Pakistan's GeoTV launched Burka Avenger. Its superhero is a mild mannered school-teacher who fights feudal villains and terrorists getting in the way of girls' education.  Burka Avenger series is inspired by the story of Malala Yousufzai, a Pakistan teenage school-girl who  miraculously survived an assassination attempt by the Taliban in Swat valley last year. Malala has since become an international icon for girls' education worldwide.  The United Nations declared Malala's 16th birthday this year on July 12 as Malala Day to focus on girls' education.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Burka Avenger: Pakistani Female Superhero 

Burka Avenger  Videos on Vimeo Channel

UN Malala Day

Pakistan's Cowardly Politicians

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

US Promoting Venture Capital & Private Equity in Pakistan

Pakistani-American Population Growth Second Fastest Among Asian-Americans

Edible Arrangements: Pakistani-American's Success Story

Pakistani-American Elected Mayor

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan



9 comments:

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Men's Journal story of Pakistani-American Mixed Martial Arts champ Bashir Ahmed:

In April 2013, Bashir Ahmad stood bleeding in a cage before a 12,000-person stadium crowd in Kallan, Singapore. Having defeated his Thai opponent, the mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter draped the green-and-white Pakistani flag across his shoulders and hoisted his gloved hands as the stadium. The crowd – along with a 500-million-person Asian TV audience – cheered for Pakistan's first national MMA champion. The accolade was made all the more precedent-breaking considering Ahmad's true identity: just a few years earlier, he had served in Iraq as a U.S. soldier. As relations between the U.S. and Pakistan remain strained due to drone strikes, Taliban attacks, and lingering resentment over the unauthorized commando raid on Osama bin Laden, Ahmad has become the unlikeliest of national heroes – an American soldier turned MMA champion. "I've gotten Facebook messages asking how I could be a part of the U.S. army and support the killing of Muslims," he says. "Does it get to me? No. My whole life has been a paradox."
Born in Lahore in 1983, Ahmad moved as a child with his family to Great Falls, Virginia. In 2002, he joined the National Guard to fund his tuition at Virginia Commonwealth University – thinking he'd only spend one weekend a month doing military drills. "When I first got there and asked if they'd served in Afghanistan, they laughed and said 'We can't even make it to the highway without getting lost,'" Ahmad says. Yet nine months after the beginning of the Iraq war, in 2003, Ahmad was deployed to work as a medic on a bomb disposal unit in Mosul – a stronghold of the Sunni insurgency. "Have you seen the movie Hurt Locker?" he says. "That was my day-to-day life. We'd drive five times a day to wherever in the city there was a suspected IED or car bomb."
------
Despite his rising star in Pakistan, Ahmad says his time there has shown him how essentially American he remains. "When I came here I was like, 'oh I'll fit right in'," Ahmad says. "No, I was definitely different – a foreigner." Pakistan's pervasive anti-American rhetoric and uncritical nationalism irritated him. "It's so mixed up, it's so ridiculous," he says about the country's political climate. "There are Pakistanis whose whole family is in the U.S. and they want a visa, yet they hate America." One of Ahmad's proudest achievements, beyond the fame and growing success of MMA in Pakistan, is having created something that erases, however modestly, Pakistan's social divides. "These two young waiters at a roadside restaurant told me their lives had changed," Ahmad says. "Guys who would usually order them around were now the same people looking up to them and saying, 'This guy fights for my gym.'"
Ahmad is now splitting his time between Virginia and Pakistan while courting Pakistani expatriates to help fund his league – and admits to not feeling quite at home in either country. "The TSA held me for seven hours at Reagan airport, but then only questioned me for a couple of minutes," Ahmad says, "I expected it but was still like 'Screw you, I'm a vet.'"


http://www.mensjournal.com/adventure/races-sports/pakistans-fight-club-20140313

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a news report about a new superhero in Pakistan:

The Pakistani comic scene is spawning a dream team of superheroes who were born out of the local culture and tackle issues specific to the region.

Set for online release in two months, a comic entitled “Shamsheer” by Udham Publications is one example of a home-grown comic that aims to present an “intrinsically Pakistani” story in pop-art format.

“We as humans are hardwired to learn from stories,” Zakaullah Khan, co-creator of “Shamsheer,” told Al Arabiya News.

“Our sense of belonging to a group comes from shared experiences, from stories we can tell each other, so I absolutely believe that it’s essential to have home-grown stories.”

Why not just import all-American comics? Why do the country’s comic lovers need Pakistani heroes?

“I’d much rather take up the stories of the founders of Pakistan, or of the legends and folk tales that we already tell each other,” he said, “but I know that those will be perceived as being archaic material.”

This led Khan to start a new story, though he was careful to stay true to local culture, saying he wanted to create something “intrinsically Pakistani so people can have a platform on which to connect with each other.”

Despite the “Pakistani environment” of the forthcoming comic, “the issues we’re talking about are those of any developing country: violence on the streets, mugging and security issues,” he added.

Pakistan’s comic scene is facing obstacles, one of which, according to Khan, is the country’s lagging literacy rate, which in 2012 saw it placed 180th on a list of 221 countries by the United Nations....


http://english.alarabiya.net/en/life-style/entertainment/2014/03/27/Pakistan-s-comic-scene-launches-home-grown-heroes.html

Riaz Haq said...

It’s just another day in the fictional town of Halwapur, when mayor Vadero Pajero orders local thug Baba Bandook to shut down the girls’ school. “What will girls do with education when they will grow up to scrub floors and cook meals,” they mock. But then the now-famous Burka Avenger swoops in. Using her takht kabaddi skills — combat with pens and books — she thwarts the evil plan and the school is reopened.
But Jiya, aka Burka Avenger, heroine of the eponymous TV series, isn’t the only one. The country is in overdrive, creating animated characters who are regular people by day and crimefighters by night. Kachee Goliyan, possibly Pakistan’s first comic book company, recreated Umru Ayar, a phenomenal figure in Urdu literature, in a comic book. Nofal Khan, Editor, Kachee Goliyan, says, “Whenever we visualised the stories of Umru Ayar, we thought of them as action-packed, exciting adventures, with Ayar moving in and out of different realms, fighting off evil wizards. A lot of people grew up reading his stories and we wanted to invoke nostalgia.”
Role models
A silent cultural revolution is brewing in Pakistan’s art, entertainment and literature scenes. It’s bold, tough and the people’s desperate desire for real change is unmistakable. “Positive role models are very important for Pakistani society. Real-life people can turn out to be imperfect but fictional characters can be projected with the highest morals and values. Wonder Woman or Catwoman may not resonate in Pakistani society, but Burka Avenger does,” says Haroon Rashid, its creator, who is a pop star. The character was number nine on Time magazine’s list of most influential characters of 2013 and there are talks of broadcasting the show in 60 countries soon.

Burka Avenger’s key theme is educating girls and women, which is especially significant in a country with profoundly conservative areas. This is also reflected in real-life hero Malala Yousafzai’s goals. Yousafzai is known for being an education and women’s rights activist, which got her shot by the Taliban in 2012.
Rich narratives
Syed Hamdani created Sergeant Pakistan as a comic and a set of ongoing novellas so that Pakistani kids could look up to someone with humble beginnings who stands up against terrorism. “While watching the news one day, I saw a report of children playing suicide bombers in a game. I have a six-year-old son and I couldn’t stand watching that. It is a failure of humanity if children portray themselves as terrorists,” he says. The first novella is out on Amazon’s Kindle device and proceeds from the project will go to charity.
Meanwhile Pakistan’s first superhero film, Nation Awakes, an ambitious project produced by Aamir Sajjad Ventures, is scheduled for global release in 2016. The superhero, Pakistan, will be portrayed by Aamir Sajjad and the
English-language film has already garnered 148,922 likes on Facebook. “Nation Awakes will deal with things on a global level, where Pakistan will fight for humanity in general. For most people it will be a very different experience to watch a Muslim superhero in action for the first time. The basic aim of this film is to change perceptions,” says Sajjad.
These superheroes reflect the Pakistani people’s desire for social and cultural change. Dr Chloe Gill-Khan, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at the University of South Australia, who studies Pakistani culture and politics, says, “The rise of animated characters and Pakistan’s first-ever superhero film form a crucial part of the broader urban media revolution that is reformist in its outlook, appealing to visions of national reconstruction on multiple levels. The urban popular and underground music scene, television dramas and shows indicate the strengthening of civic voices. Such cultural expressions have the potential to strengthen Pakistan’s cultural economy, revive healthy debate, educate and also challenge national and international stereotypes.”...

http://m.gulfnews.com/http-gulfnews-com-gn-focus-pakistan-superheroes-1.1306794

Riaz Haq said...

Arundhati Roy’s charm and lucidity have iconized her in the world of left-wing politics. But, asked by Laura Flanders what she made of the 2014 Nobel Prize, she appeared to be swallowing a live frog: “Well, look, it is a difficult thing to talk about because Malala is a brave girl and I think she has even recently started speaking out against the US invasions and bombings…but she’s only a kid you know and she cannot be faulted for what she did….the great game is going on…they pick out people [for the Nobel Prize].” For one who has championed peoples causes everywhere so wonderfully well these shallow, patronizing remarks were disappointing.

Farzana Versey, Mumbai based left-wing author and activist, was still less generous. Describing Malala as “a cocooned marionette” hoisted upon the well-meaning but unwary, Versey lashes out at her for, among other things, raising the problem of child labor at her speech at the United Nations: “it did not strike her that she is now even more a victim of it, albeit in the sanitized environs of an acceptable intellectual striptease.”

http://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Why-does-Malala-Yusufzais-Nobel-Bother-so-Many-on-the-Left-20141106-0023.html

Riaz Haq said...

Oscar-winning Sharmeen Chinoy's 3 Bahadur becomes highest grossing animated feature film ever in #Pakistan

http://tribune.com.pk/story/899872/a-bahadur-new-world/ …


Pakistan’s first full-length animated feature 3 Bahadur has become the highest grossing animated-film ever to release in Pakistan.

It is truly an exciting time for Pakistani cinema. Over the course of the last year and a half, Pakistani filmmakers have treaded into new and untested waters and unsurprisingly all of them have managed to wow the audience.


First there was Bilal Lashari’s action-thriller Waar, then Nabeel Qureshi’s game-changing comedy Na Maloom Afraad and last but not the least Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s animated movie 3 Bahadur.

Billed as Pakistan’s first animated feature film, the movie is in the midst of a stellar run at the box office and has now become the highest-grossing animated movie in the history of Pakistani cinema.

Previously the record was held by Blue Sky Studio’s Rio 2 which grossed an estimated Rs 4.5 crore but 3 Bahadur has comfortably managed to outdo the Hollywood movie after only three weeks with a box office collection of Rs 4.7 crore up till now.

According to the executive producer of 3 Bahadur Jerjees Seja, the success of the film underlined the fact that Pakistani audiences want to ‘watch their own films’.

“It is really great that a first ever Pakistani animated film has managed to outdo a major Hollywood franchise like Rio 2 in terms of box office,” said Jerjees.

Released in over 35 cinemas the movie has managed to perform well at cinemas in both Punjab and Sindh, with each province contributing 50 per cent to the total box office collection. The film was not released in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

“Although the film did perform well in its first week it has picked up tremendously during the last two weeks,” said Khurram Gultasab, the general manager of the chain of Super Cinemas in Punjab. He identified ‘exams’ as a major reason behind the lesser turnout in the cinemas during the first week.

Released during the highly crowded summer window the movie faced tough competition from other international releases with movies like Piku, Bombay Velvet, Tanu Weds Manu Returns and Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Riaz Haq said...

How comic books are combatting extremism in #Pakistan. #terrorism #TTP http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/chapter-and-verse/2015/0706/How-comic-books-are-combatting-extremism-in-Pakistan?cmpid=addthis_twitter

The graphic novel, entitled "The Guardian," chronicles the disparate journeys of two young men, Asim and Munir. Wooed by its charitable activities, the pair decide to join a militant organization, but when they land in a training camp, Munir embraces the group's violent message while Asim questions it and ultimately leaves, reports the Associated Press

Riaz Haq said...

Meet Sana Amanat, the Shonda Rhimes of #Marvel comics. #Pakistani-#American http://www.vox.com/2015/11/19/9757682/sana-amanat-marvel?utm_campaign=vox&utm_content=feature%3Atop&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter … via @voxdotcom

As a woman and a Pakistani American, Amanat has made it her mission to redefine what is possible for women and people of color in an industry dominated by white men. Through her work as an editor on comic books like Captain Marvel, Hawkeye, and Ms. Marvel, she has helped reimagine what superheroes can be. Last year, the first issue of Ms. Marvel — a series and character that Amanat co-created with editor Steve Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson, and artist Adrian Alphona — went into its seventh printing, a level of success that's extremely rare. Earlier this year, Amanat was introduced to National Book Award winner Ta-Nehisi Coates — that initial introduction would later develop into a successful deal orchestrated by editor Will Moss, Marvel's VP of Publishing Tom Brevoort, and Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso to bring Coates to Marvel and write the new Black Panther comic book series.

"My long title of director of content and character development — I always forget it," she tells me about four weeks after New York Comic Con. I've caught her on a busy Monday.

"I still double-check my card and ask, 'What am I?'"

"Just call yourself Ms. Marvel," I joke.

"That's what my nephew calls me. He's 5 now. It's super cute. I think he's kind of messing with me."

He's onto something.

Sana Amanat is the Shonda Rhimes of Marvel comics

There's something poetic about the fact that Amanat is a huge fan of Shonda Rhimes, one of the most powerful showrunners in the television industry and the woman who created the hit shows Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. Rhimes has mastered the art of what Amanat calls the "oh no," the gasp-inducing moments that pepper her sudsy, kinetic dramas. And when you think about it, Rhimes's TV shows, with their hyper swerves and hurtling dialogue, are a bit like live-action comic books.

"You need the 'oh nos.' That's the beauty of serialized storytelling. That's what Shonda does so well," Amanat tells me.

But Amanat and Rhimes have more in common than a love of drama and the utmost respect for Scandal star Kerry Washington. What Rhimes has done for ABC — create great, diverse work that's gone on to inspire more diversity in the network's programming — Amanat is doing for Marvel.

Since her promotion, her editing duties have been streamlined to Captain Marvel, Daredevil and Ms. Marvel, three books she's very passionate about, to make time for an endless array of strategy meetings. Amanat's goal is to determine how Marvel can evolve and make its superheroes more representative and diverse, and then to ensure that it happens. By doing less hands-on editing, she's able to work with the company on a grander scale and across multiple titles.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan defies West's stereotypes of #Muslims: More #girls in #Pakistan colleges than boys. #MalalaYousafzai http://wpo.st/a0H91

Malala is made to tell a particular story about people in the global South, generally, and Pakistan, specifically.

She is represented as the girl who defied the culture in Pakistan, and who now embodies a transnational, secular modernity exemplified by her emphasis on independence, choice, advocacy for freedom, and arguments for gender equality.

Instead of being a symbol of the courage of Muslims and Pakistanis to stand up against local forms of violence, Malala is presented as an exception.

This narrative of Malala sustains the façade of Islam as an oppressive religion and Muslims as embroiled in pre-modern sensibilities.

Transnational girls’ education campaigns, such as the Nike Foundation’s “Girl Effect” and the White House’s “Let Girls Learn,” similarly paint a picture of black and brown populations as pre-modern, and still not educating girls. They call on the feminist sensibilities of benevolent citizens to save their Muslim sisters.

Such formulations, however, not only re-articulate the binary of victim/heroine, but also abstract education from a complex web of issues such as state corruption, the hollowed-out welfare system, and lack of access to jobs, among others.

In the case of Pakistan, for instance, research shows that girls are in school; in fact, there are more girls in higher education than boys!

Girls’ education – or, lack thereof – thus, has become a way in which Western institutions have established their own superiority and, simultaneously, the inferiority of Islam and Muslims, deeming interventions necessary and even ethically imperative.

In the context of these deep and emotional attachments to girls and education, girls who advocate for education (like Malala) and the school infrastructure itself have become prominent targets for extremists as a means to express their anti-West, anti-United States and anti-Pakistan sentiments.

It enables them to strike at the heart of what liberal global North deems as its most prized project.

Importantly, the extremists represent their attacks as a continuation of their fight against what they perceive to be colonial and foreign influence – mass schooling in Pakistan being a legacy of the British colonizers who displaced local, indigenous traditions and systems of learning.

This is a serious critique that we must take into account if we hope to curb this war on education.

It is time, therefore, that we scrutinize the loud debate over girls’ education and dislodge the monopoly of Western perspective on it, thereby making it a less potent site for extremists.

A critical way in which we can further both these ends is by recognizing the long traditions of learning that are indigenous to Muslims and Pakistan, attending to the areas and systems of support identified by girls themselves, as well as supporting organizations such as the Aga Khan Development Network, which ground their efforts in their Muslim ethics and seek to improve the quality of life of populations in Pakistan (and beyond).


Doing so will not only allow us to further our efforts for global education, but make space for alternative traditions and recognize humanity’s many histories.

Riaz Haq said...

The #Karachi Whiz Kid And #Pakistan's First Hand Drawn Animated Flick, The Glassworker via @forbes. @usmanriaz1990 http://www.forbes.com/sites/sonyarehman/2016/02/21/the-karachi-whiz-kid-and-pakistans-first-hand-drawn-animated-flick/#8fadf015e98a …

In 2012, a young, unassuming Pakistani musician from Karachi created waves after being selected as a TEDGlobal Fellow, following the success of his brilliant composition, Fire Fly, which went viral a year before.

Sharing stage space at TEDGlobal – a conference that brings together trailblazers from across the world to deliver inspiring talks – with his idol, the renowned guitarist, Preston Reed, Usman Riaz was quickly propelled into fame.

This year, while still in its initial stages, Riaz’s The Glassworker, Pakistan’s first hand drawn animated production, brings with it the magic and innocence of a Studio Ghibli film.

Judging by the production’s teaser, which was also showcased at TED this year, The Glassworker is an enchanting visual treat.

Little wonder then, the fact that Riaz successfully met his Kickstarter funding goal in just sixteen days, this month.

“I’ve always loved the beauty of glassblowing,” Riaz said, speaking about the production’s concept. “It’s one of those rare art forms where the process of creating it is as beautiful as the finished result.”

Riaz, who stands as the production’s writer, director, and unsurprisingly, composer of The Glassworker’s musical score, began drawing well before his interest in music blossomed. “I’ve always loved art and animation,” the Studio Ghibli fan stated, mentioning that after studying a degree in fine arts, music and film overseas, he felt a strong desire to channel each medium into a work of art.

“What better way than to combine my work in art, music and storytelling than with animation?”