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Mohan Kapur, Zenobia Shroff, And Saagar Shaikh Talk Ms. Marvel, Iman Vellani, And The Marvels - Exclusive Interview

"Ms. Marvel" is the teen MCU show fans have needed for years. Iman Vellani stars front and center as Kamala Khan — the MCU's first Muslim superhero. Though she's always down for a bit of teenage rebellion, Kamala is shaped by her mother, Muneeba (Zenobia Shroff); her father, Yusuf (Mohan Kapur); and her brother, Aamir (Saagar Shaikh). 

Whether Muneeba is crafting her a matching Hulk costume with her dad or her brother is using his assumed "favorite child" charms to go to bat for his sister, "Ms. Marvel" is a wholesome family delight. The show is rife with the appropriate amount of teenage angst, Muslim culture, and badassery. 

During an exclusive interview with Looper, Mohan Kapur, Zenobia Shroff, and Saagar Shaikh talked about Muslim representation in "Ms. Marvel" and what it was like playing Iman Vellani's family. They also dished on the comedic family moments and teased what it was like filming "The Marvels." 

Introducing the Khan family

"Ms. Marvel" is refreshing in so many ways, but I love the show's family dynamics and the Muslim culture we see sprinkled in places like family dinners and town events. You all are at the heart of that as Kamala's family. Why do you think these scenes are so important to show on screen? What do you think they can teach people who only want to see their own experiences on screen?

Zenobia Shroff: That's a really good question. No one's put it that way.

Saagar Shaikh: It's important because it normalizes an otherwise unseen experience, and there are a lot of us out there that haven't seen something like that — that represents what they go through on a day-to-day — on screen. It's really going to pull at people's heartstrings who haven't had the pleasure of having those notes plucked at before.

Mohan Kapur: Well said.

Shroff: Also, in the rich history of, unfortunately, Muslim bias in this country, the second part of your question about what you think it'll do for their experience ... I hope that they watch it and they see, "Oh, this is [a] family like mine. They bicker. They love each other. They get up in the morning. They brush their teeth. They fail driving tests. They eat dinner together." I hope that they realize that experientially, as an experience, our human experience is more common than it's different.

Kapur: That's true. It's a slice of life from a community that's one-fourth [of] the world's population, and it's very rich and diverse. In a very beautiful and simple way, one has, as you very rightly use the word, sprinkled along in the episodes various facets of their life [and] their culture. It's very heartening to know that a studio like Marvel would give credence to something like this and to this community. It's very heartening.

Nailing the comedic timing

Mohan and Zenobia, you two have some of the funniest and most wholesome moments with Kamala because you're trying to understand and support her world, but the generational and cultural gap offers some pretty comedic scenes. What was it like working with your on-screen daughter in these funny moments? Did anyone ad-lib anything? Did the comedy come naturally, or did you have to work for it?

Shroff: [The] comedy came naturally. I've done a lot of improv. I've written a lot of characters, and — at least, personally, I can't speak for Mohan — I did not try to infuse it with that comedy. But every now and then, Saagar would throw out a line, and then we'd jump on that. Some of it was improv'ed a little bit, but I don't think that you can work so hard at comedy. Sometimes, you just do it, and it lands funny in your delivery or something. That's what happened.

Kapur: She's right, because there's a difference between [a] sense of humor and [comedic] timing. It doesn't have to be a funny line, but it's the way you say it. There are a lot of lines that Muneeba says [that] are not quintessentially funny, but the way the situation lends itself to [Zenobia] delivering that dialogue, it's hilarious, and she's done it so well. Working with Iman was a treat because she being [a] first-timer [is] natural. That whole thing was very organic, and ... the script — I always go back to that. The script gave us all the fodder that we needed. There was not too much effort put into it, aside from what came to us at the moment on the day.

Shroff: You're always only as good as the people you play with. Any actor who thinks that they are good on their own is delusional.

Kapur: That's true.

Shroff: You will learn that on the way. You're only as good as the people you play with. Whether it's your scene or it's their scene, it's all action-reaction, so we created together. Sometimes, he would throw in an aside, and we'd jump on that.

A brother on and off the screen

Saagar, you have an older brother dynamic with Kamala. What have been some of the highlights for you in working with Iman, and do you feel that protective older brother role with her in real life as well?

Shaikh: I do. I do big time. We've developed this relationship where I do really feel like ... I don't have a younger sister. I don't have a sister in real life. I feel like she's taken that role in my life right now. We've got good banter. We have our own inside jokes, and we get on each other's nerves sometimes, just like a normal sibling relationship would have.

It's been revealed that the Khan family will appear in "The Marvels." What are you most looking forward to with that experience? Who do you hope that your characters team up with or against?

Shaikh: Has it been revealed?

Shroff: It's been revealed.

Shaikh: It has? Oh, okay.

Shroff: I don't know if we're allowed to say anything about that.

Shaikh: I'm hoping that people have fun watching it and that we all shine, and that we do our best to make each other and the other cast look as good as possible.

Shroff: Yes.

Kapur: Just when we thought that we are so privileged and happy about being in "Ms. Marvel" ... we segued into "The Marvels." It's fabulous because the writers in the Marvel stables, they do such an amazing job of cross-pollinating characters so brilliantly and taking stories forward. It's another big privilege.

Shroff: Iman was off doing a lot of [other things] as she was even in the series. It gave us three a chance to strengthen our family dynamic, very much so. Obviously, she's in and out because she's got a lot of other people she interacts with.

Shaikh: It felt like we were shooting the next episode. We literally finished off of this. Then, maybe a couple of months later, we started working on ["The Marvels"], and it felt like this on steroids.

Shroff: It was the best summer camp. It was real fun.

The first episode of "Ms. Marvel" is now streaming on Disney+ with subsequent episodes airing on Wednesdays.

This interview was edited for clarity.