For a long time, Rish Shah turned to Bollywood to watch the South Asian community get the right representation on screen while growing up in the UK, and is glad that the West is rectifying it, and making it a more inclusive world for “brown people”.
And that is proved by the acceptance of the global project, Ms Marvel, which is story of a Muslim superhero, and revolves around the culture of Pakistan and India.
“The show represents just one part of the change within the industry in the West. It is just one story about one girl and one community. Growing up, I would have killed to have seen Ms Marvel on a global platform,” Shah tells us, adding, “I have grown up on Bollywood. I remember watching RaOne, and watching Krish featuring Hrithik Roshan. Now, it is really exciting that people get to see our culture represented in a really positive light. Hopefully, it just allows for more opportunities for other stories to be told. And that’s the most important thing.”
And the change is not just onscreen but behind the screen as well. “With the show, I have gone on this journey of wearing my culture and just be proud of it. The whole team has been on the journey. We would listen to Bollywood songs. And that was the first instance when I could share a song, say by Atif Aslam, with my co-star, and just sing it together. It’s not often we get to do that,” says the actor, who has featured in projects such as To All the Boys: Always and Forever and Emmerdale Farm.
So, lately, the South Asian community is finally getting the representation on a global level. And Kamala is said to be the first Muslim MCU superhero. How does it feel to be a part of something so monumental? And what does representation really mean to
Now, Shah, who is seen in the role of Kamran in Ms. Marvel, asserts that it is super important for him to stay true to his roots and identity in the projects he picks going forward.
“Right representation is the most important thing to me. But I wish for a world in which it’s not the most important thing where we have to talk about it. I hope that the industry is starting to make a change. And hopefully it’s starting to make a change towards a world in which it’s normalised. Like, the world can imagine aliens, why can’t we imagine a brown superhero? It is an exciting time,” he says, adding, “Now, we hope, we get to see more stories. Apart from Ms Marvel, there are so many more stories to be told.”
For Shah, the most important thing is to “play roles that don’t play into stereotypes”. “But rather subvert them, so to be able to do that is the most important thing for me, and to be a working actor is important for me, I want to continue to learn and grow… Hope I can continue to do so,” he ends.