In the show, Kamala — who lives in modern-day New Jersey — is transported back in time to partition, in order to discover essential secrets about her own family and learn how familial superpowers manifested themselves.
“It really came out of the writers’ room, [the idea] that we’re going to go to that time period,” Amanat said. “I always loved the idea when Bisha [K. Ali, the show creator] and her team pitched it. I thought, well, this is the heart of the show. We have to go back to this moment in time because this is the source point of the story. It’s a source of trauma, a source of disjointed identity that comes from this experience — it started at that point.”
Amanat noted that everyone did their research and pulled on “really great resources” to “make sure it was authentic and historically accurate.” She also observed storytelling challenges. “How do you educate audiences about this historical moment that not many people knew about in a very short amount of time and still be able to continue to tell Kamala’s story?”
The answer came in “realizing it’s all linked together,” Amanat said. “In order for [Kamala] to truly transform and become the embiggened, biggest version of herself, [she had] to go back to this important moment in her history, understand it, understand she was a part of her own history…ultimately, she is the source of her own origin story. I think that’s really important, it starts with who you are, where you’re from, that’s the source of your power. And she kind of expands from there.”
The crew filmed partition scenes in Thailand and Atlanta, and gathered additional footage in Pakistan. The scenes feature hundreds of extras at a train station, trying to find their families or find space to board their way to their new homes, with all their belongings in tow. The show does a compelling job of showing the chaos and trauma of such a mass migration. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 14 million Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs were displaced during this time.
Of what filming was like, Amanat said it was a moment of, “Wow, this really happened — and this is just a small iota of what really happened.”
“We wish we could do a lot more, we wish we could do multiple episodes. I would have done an entire season [on partition] and we kind of got it in an episode…it’s certainly something I wish we had more time to be able to do,” Amanat shared.
Though we’d love to see what a longer season would look like, the importance of what Amanat, Ali, and their team did cannot be overstated. “We have never really shown Partition — one of the largest mass migrations in the world — in Hollywood, and we have rarely ever shown it otherwise,” director Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy said in one interview. Viewers have tweeted and written about how special it was to see such history depicted onscreen.