Changing the face of South Asian female superheroes: Will they help change the gender conversation?
She’s a street-fighting Pakistani woman from Karachi…and is the latest South Asian female superhero to make headlines.
Meet Bloody Nasreen, a 27-year-old woman who wields a sword in one hand and a gun in the other. She wears a salwar kameez and sneakers.
Historically, South Asian female characters have been seen mostly as meek and even oppressed and while South Asian female superheroes are few and far between in media, Bloody Nasreen’s character is breaking these stereotypes. Her character has been getting a lot of buzz in the digital space. She fights terrorists, gangsters and traffickers in Karachi.
Burka Avenger was one of the most recent she-heroes developed by Marvel Comics and Shahan Zaidi, the creator of Bloody Nasreen, and a cartoonist in Pakistan says he created Nasreen long before Burka Avenger. While the Burka Avenger, Pakistan’s first female super-hero wears a burka as a disguise, Nasreen is usually seen without a dupatta. He worked on her character for years and says this character is a more mature audience, not meant for young kids. However, his goal was to create a strong female character
Who is Nasreen?
Bloody Nasreen was conceived after seeing the bad law and order situation of Karachi. My friends and I always talked about a hero who is not quite a figure of justice but a cruel and ruthless anti-hero who fights with all sorts of bad guys. So I thought about a girl. Why can’t the hero be a girl? An why not a simpler girl with most common name? So here she is. Nasreen was your average college-going girl who became what she is after a series of incidents.
What inspired you to create her and also to start writing a book ?
Bloody Nasreen is a fictional graphic novel and its still in progress. I was inspired by movies by Tarantino and awesome writing of Alan Moore.
Nasreen fights human trafficking; why did you choose this particular mission for her?
I didn’t choose human trafficking particularly, She fights all sort of crime lords of the city. Human trafficking was one of the issues. And this region (including India, Bangladesh, Nepal Sri Lanka and Pakistan) has so many human trafficking victims already. We know about the issue but I don’t know why whenever we make movies or dramas or comics etc, we neglect this issue. So I put it in there along with so many others.
She isn’t a traditional Pakistani/Muslim woman; do you worry about a backlash against the book or her character?
My question is what is a Pakistani/ Muslim woman? And also why does to be religion have to be involved with anything that comes from Pakistan. I don’t mess with any religion in my stories. They are stories of people; living beings. My characters are not categorized. What’s the religion of catwoman or Supergirl? What religion did Lady Justice have in Neil Gaiman’s popular creation “Lady Justice”? What is catwoman by the way? Hindu Christian or Jewish?
Was her character influenced by any of the women in your life?
No it’s totally fiction. Real life references were taken though.
Who have been your mentors along the way in the work you do?
I have had so many inspirations along the way but no particular mentor. I am highly inspired by Quentin Tarantino, though.
Can you tell us about the plot of the graphic book based on Nasreen?
I can’t tell you the plot of the book of course until its released, but yes it’s about a girl’s revenge and its about how a weak common average person holds so much power that can overshadow an entire city.
You’ve also garnered the possibility of a film, how did that happen and what can we expect to see?
It happened when some movie producers took interest in the project and asked me to share the story with them. So I did and they found it quite interesting and compelling for a movie. Crew Films is making the movie and its in Pre-production phase. And I think It will be unique in its own way.
Stay up to date on the Bloody Nasreen’s debut and the book based on her on Shahan Zaidi’s facebook page: www.facebook.com/shahanart
What do you think of this new heroine? Share your thoughts below!
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