This major Bollywood star just entered the Marvel universe — and he told us he wants to stay
Farhan Akhtar discusses his character in ‘Ms. Marvel’ and his future in the Marvel universe
The adventure in “Ms. Marvel” has finally begun — Kamala has found the true source of her powers, with her adversaries hot on her tail.
The Disney+ show, rated 98% by critics on Rotten Tomatoes, stars Iman Vellani as Kamala Khan, or Ms. Marvel, a Muslim high schooler and avid Avengers fan living in New Jersey who stumbles across superpowers of her own.
Bollywood legend Farhan Akhtar, who showed up in the latest episode of the Marvel series, talked to the Deseret News about the character he plays on the show, the pride he feels for being involved in this project and the joy of filming.
Meet Waleed, the mysterious new character
The Indian actor and filmmaker’s cameo was expected after he revealed the news on social media last month. Akhtar’s appearance finally came in Episode 4, where he starred as Waleed.
Not much is revealed about the character in the episode. We know that Waleed knows about Kamala’s great-grandmother and the powers she holds, but not much else.
Akhtar told the Deseret News in an interview that he couldn’t reveal much, but he did share a few details about Waleed: “He is a guide, he’s like a father-like figure in her life who comes in and helps her realize her potential.”
“He is someone who definitely helps Kamala get answers and get clarity in terms of what it is that she’s capable of,” added the actor, who has starred in at least 15 Indian movies, written 13 and directed six.
He made his Hollywood debut through the soundtrack of the 2004 movie “Bride and Prejudice,” which he and his sister Zoya Akhtar wrote. Akhtar’s notable works include his performance in “Dil Chahta Hai,” “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” and “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag.”
‘It felt right,’ says Akhtar about being cast in the show
The Bollywood actor and filmmaker got involved with “Ms. Marvel” when his “very sweet agent” approached him about a show starring a “Muslim girl superhero.”
Set within the Asian community while traveling the subcontinent and unraveling cultural histories, “Ms. Marvel” “sounded so amazing,” the actor said.
After talking to director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy about what the character is about and how he contributes to Kamala’s journey, “all of it just felt right,” he admitted.
In a social media post from early June, Akhtar, who is a goodwill ambassador for United Nations Women, said he was proud to be a part of Marvel’s aim to create a “conscious inclusiveness,” while adding that the representation will mean the world to Asian youth.
Prominent Pakistani actors Fawad Khan (“Kapoor & Sons”), Mehwish Hayat (“Actor in Law”) and Samina Ahmed (“Sher Dil Haris’s Grandmother”) are also a part of the cast.
A joy ride on the set
South Asian cinema is known for its intricate and over-the-top action sequences. But “Ms. Marvel” does an “incredible” job with those combat scenes and gets Akhtar’s stamp of approval.
“The fact that I’m in it gives me a lot of joy,” he added, giving credit to the choreographer, Gary Powell, who is the second unit director for Episodes 4 and 5.
Akhtar said he felt “like a kid in a toy shop,” volunteering to do a few of the stunts himself, and Powell trusted him, making the whole experience “a lot of fun.”
Viewers can catch the actor hanging off the back of a vehicle and jumping off while it's still moving, but hopping from balcony to balcony remained a bit too dangerous for the Akhtar to do himself.
Is this Farhan Akhtar’s foot in the door with Marvel?
When Deseret News asked whether Akhtar’s fans should expect more Marvel appearances from him, he said that time will tell.
“I would really hope that Marvel sees Waleed as a really interesting character that they would like to use,” he said, admitting that he “would love to do it.”
“This is my little shout-out to whoever’s listening,” Akhtar said, smiling. “But again, it’s not up to me. You know what, I’d love to do it? Absolutely. But we’ll see.”