'Overwatch 2' Could Introduce a Bangladeshi Character
Updated: Nov 5, 2020
Blizzard entertainment had released a cinematic story trailer for Overwatch 2. The game will be featuring returning favourites such as Tracer, Genji, Winston, Mei, Mercy and finally add Sojourn as a playable character. However three years ago a freelance concept artist/illustrator on art station named Andrew Soman designed an interesting team called Noturnal as a potential faction to rival Overwatch, Talon and the Vishkarr Corporation. One of these concept characters included a Bangladeshi Defensive Hero called Smolder.
This is Farad Mangalaan aka Smolder. According to Andrew: "Smolder! The burly Bangladeshi with a penchant for pyromancy. Smolder plays like a fire mage, using burning techniques to scatter his foes!
I feel like defense heroes don't get the love they deserve. For Smolder I wanted a character who could act like a shepherd, deftly corralling the enemy in the direction of his choice to allow his teammates to fall on to them at the best angle. Smolder's kit revolves around damage that spreads and retriggers on targets that bunch up or attempt to take ground. His Particle Hostility ability is the signature of his skills, making two enemies burn each other based on proximity. I also wanted a character who could absorb the energy attacks that barriers don't to add some more counterplay."
Despite South Asia being the most populated region in the world with Bengalis being one of the top 10 most common ethnic groups. They have very little representation in pop culture. Though Overwatch does have Indian character Symmetra, it wouldn't hurt to add more characters from other South Asian countries and as some of us here are Bangladeshis. We felt we can give some input to the design of Smolder as Overwatch has a diverse cast with a lot of traditional and popular culture references in their characters and their designs. Also this could be the first ever playable Video game character from Bangladesh.
First of all we will talk about the name of the character, Farad Mangalaan sounds strange but is it realistic? well Farad is most likely supposed to be Farhad (can be spelled as Farrad) which is an Iranian Masculine name meaning "Merited" or "Obtained". This is actually a very appropriate name as most Bangladeshis are Muslim and naturally use Arabic or Iranian names due both these cultures had historically been influential to Islam in Bengal. Mangalaan however sounds like it is either taken from Mangalyaan which is Hindi for Mars Craft, or it is based off Barsha Mangal Utsab the Monsoon Festival in Bangladesh. Our best guess is Andrew based it off the space craft without a second thought about the inconsistency. A more realistic surname for a Bangladeshi Muslim begining with the letter M would actually be Mir, Mirza, Munshi, Mullah, Majumdar, Mustafa, Malik and lets not forget Miah the best one lol. We reckon Malik will fit as a surname. Why? well if it wasn't for a certain Man like Malik this blog wouldn't exist, but also Malik is phonetically similar to Malak (Meaning Angel in Arabic) and the name of a certain Angel in Islam called Maalik. We will explain more about him below. In regards to his alias Smolder seems a bit tame for a guy who seems to possess the power over hot plasma and electro magnetism. We reckon an interesting alias for Farhad could be Shakrain referring to the Winter Festival that is celebrated in Bangladesh. Why would guy with inspired by Pyromancy be named after a winter festival? Well the celebrations include kite flying/fighting on Dhaka's rooftops during the day and blasting music to dance to during night. But that's not all that takes place, during the night Dhaka is literally Lit with fire works, floating lanterns and fire breathing/dancing based performances. Now doesn't that sound more appropriate for a high tech Electromagnetic plasmamancer? is that even a word? We'll take it. So for now let's rename our Bangladeshi hero as Farhad Malik aka Shakrain.
Farad's story has him attending University abroad, studying particle physics, meeting future allies, work for corrupt companies like the Vishkar and Volskaya before joining up with a group to become part of the team Nocturnal. It is likely that if Blizzard does take this character concept they will change and adjust accordingly. But lets try to work around what to keep and what to add. Bangladeshi diaspora typically tends to lean towards doing manual labour in Asian countries like in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, etc. But as Farad went to study Particle Physics at University. The most likely place would be in Europe with UK and Italy having the highest Bangladeshi diaspora in Europe. Outside of Europe, Bangladeshis tend to also come to the USA or Canada but in smaller numbers. It should be noted that the country of choice can be played around with to even rare choices such as Poland which actually has a significant growing Bangladeshi population in recent years or Germany where Jawed Karim, one of the founders of YouTube (From the First ever YouTube Video: Me at the Zoo), was born as he is half German half Bangladeshi. Through this he could easily meet allies, maybe even be one of the few former Overwatch members that didn't return from Winston's Recall due to being part of the Noturnal team. Whilst Overwatch's Cinematic story focused around Overwatch vs Talon. Overwatch 2 could bring more focus on the Vishkar corps outside of just Lucio opposing them in Brazil. Maybe Farhad will be one of the people that tries to help Lucio in his fight against them. A subtle parallel to the real world where many Bangladeshi Football fans tend to support Brazil in the World Cup. Farhad is supporting Lucio against the Vishkar Corperation.
As Andrew conceptualised Farhad's abilities. We won't need to add too much. Using Cole MacGrath from InFamous as a comparison we can imagine how Farhad's abilities play out.
Induction Rod fires a hot orb of explosive plasma kinda like a Hadoken mixed with a fireworks, similar to Cole's Hellfire rocket in InFamous 2. We can imagine this having high damage and forces the enemies apart due to the blast force.
Holding down shoot will charge then unleash the Arc Flare as a stream of plasma bolts that do high damage but require more precision and causes continuous burning damage functioning the same as Cole's Overload Burst in InFamous 1.
Secondary fire can be Farhad's Particle Hostility which could look similar to Coles McGrath's Tripwire rocket from InFamous 2. Two plasma balls connected by a bolt of electricity will hit with twice as much splash range, but can't fit through narrow doors and windows. Any enemies caught in the blast will be charged so that when they are near allies. They along with their allies will be temporarily electrocuted for a few seconds. Causing them to take lingering damage.
Finally Farhad's Ultimate Ion Storm sounds similar to Cole's Ionic Storm, maybe even function a plasma beam from the sky that comes down in front of Farhad travelling slowly away as he guides it. Whether used airbourne or on the ground Farhad will be left stationary where he uses it (Similar to Pharah during her rocket barrage ultimate).
The Magnetic Shield can function like a drone that follows Farhad or a targeted ally around to provide them and nearby allies with an EM shield giving them extra hit points shield on top of their health and this shield can absorb energy like attacks to heals allies near it, but it can only reduce incoming damage from non-energy attacks like melees and bullets.
To reference the Kite Fighting side of Shakrain. Farhad's armour has a Passive Ability in his glider that allows him to fly not quite as well as Pharah but enough to keep up.
In regards to Quick Melees, many of the Overwatch heroes have Basic melees being a punch or gun slap. The best melees are Zenyatta's front snap kick, Hanzo's Palm strike, Genji's sword swipe, Rienhardt's hammer swing to name a few examples. With Farhad when using his quick melee airbourne, he will descend hitting any enemies he lands on. Whilst on the ground, his Melee has him spin strike his staff which can be spammed back to back. This is based of Lathi Khela techniques, Lathi Khela being a Bangladeshi martial art that focuses on stick fighting techniques and is also incorporated as part of Butthan's weaponry styles. Lathi Khela practices declined in recent years but some performances are still found during Muharram, the celebration of the first month in the Islamic calendar.
One thing Overwatch excels in is character design. Majority of the characters have beautiful designs and also amazing alternate costumes usually referencing the characters heritage either traditional or pop culture. So what can we implement with Farhad? Well his Black and Gold costume feels very appropriate and props to Andrew for his design. If we had designs for alternate costumes and colours, the first idea would be to base if off many festivals in Bangladesh. See Bangladesh has a unique seasonal pattern with 6 seasons rather than 4. These are Grisshor (Summer), Borsha (Monsoon), Shorot (Autumn), Hemonto (Harvest), Sheet (Winter) and finally Boshonto (Spring). Bangladesh also has festivals for 5 of these, some of these include specific, but not obligatory colours to wear at the celebrations.
For Summer, the Bengali New Year starts also called the Pahela Boishakh or its British Bangladeshi counter part the Boishaki Mela, the traditional colours for this is White and Red (Coincidentally the same as the English flag colours).
The Pahela Falgun is the Spring Festival where the recommended colour scheme is Yellow and Red.
We mentioned the Barsha Mangal earlier as the Monsoon Festival with the traditional colours being White and Blue.
The Nabanna is the Harvest festival literally meaning feast. The recommended colours are Yellow and Green.
The final seasonal festival of Bangladesh is the Winter Festival we mentioned earlier the Shakrain festival also known as Ghuri Utsob. There is no recommended clothing or colour scheme for this festival but we feel a combination of Blue and Green would be appropriate being colder colours to fit the winter theme.
Another unique event held in Bangladesh is the Bishwa Ijtema (meaning Global Congregation). This event is considered a demonstration of Muslim unity, solidarity, mutual love and respect and an opportunity to reiterate their commitment to Islamic values. This Event is one of the largest peaceful annual gatherings in the world and also the second largest Muslim gathering in world with 5 million attendants. Colour scheme wise Black, White, Red and Green are seen as favoured colours among Muslim countries with Bangladesh's flag being Green with a Red Disc. So we feel a combo of Green and Red will be fitting.
We also mentioned another event called Muharram, whilst this Islamic event in not unique to Bangladesh as it is celebrated by Muslims globally. We mentioned how Lathi Khela performances are popular so maybe the White and Black colour scheme works as Butthancharjas (Butthan practitioners) wear White for Soft contact Butthan Sport and wear Black for Hard contact Butthan Combat.
As many of you may know Blizzard Games pride themselves on Overwatch and their character designs usually based on Traditional or Pop Culture. So what alternate costumes could Farhad have? Well us Bangladeshis know at least that one relative or friend who is superstitious about everything. So lets look into Bangladeshi myths and beliefs.
The obvious ideas would be Jinn from Islamic beliefs, the two best known types are the Ifreet and Marid. Maybe a red and hellfire motif for the Ifreet costume (similar to Aladdins Jafar) and a blue and rain/thunderstorm motif for the Marid costume (Similar to Aladdin's Genie).
Alternatively we mentioned Malak (Angel in Arabic) from Islamic beliefs too. Since Farhad could fly with a wing pack, maybe this costume can capitalise this with alternate costumes based off Angels like the Hinn, said to be Angels of "Scorching Fire" in contrast to the Islamic Malak (angels of made of Holy Light).
We mentioned an Angel of the name Maalik earlier, this particular Angel is said to be assisted by the Zabaniyya (Guardian angels of Hell) and possesses the power over Hellfire. In fact Marvel comics had a Muslim ghostrider named Molek inspired by this character (since the Spirits of Vengeance are actually a type of Angel in Marvel comics).
Ar-Ra'd (The Thunderer) is an Angel associated with Thunder and Lightning and finally Habib an angel from the Hadith that is said to be made of half ice half fire. This may have been part of the inspiration for Street Fighter's Gill.
For a Halloween costume, Farhad can dress up as Penchapechi a vampire like creature in Bengali culture but rather than turning into bats they turn into Owls.
Many charactesr can also have customisation options for their weapons in tangent to their costumes, some ideas for Farhad's staff can look like a Kite pole that are used to guide fighting kites during Shakrain with maybe with a Myna (national bird of Bangladesh) inspired costume or colour scheme.
Another animal motif will have to be the Royal Bengal Tiger since it is Bangladesh's national animal and symbols to our identity. An Orange and Black colour scheme will be fitting and may have the staff look almost like a tiger claw. The costume could be based off royalty from the Sultanate of Bengal or the Nawabs of Bengal.
Andrew's own concept art shows Farhad alternate staffs have a trident and a pickaxe variation. The trident is easy, provide Farhad with a Naval soldier outift as a reference to how large numbers of Bangladeshi settlers in the UK were Lascars. Whilst Lascars did not use tridents, they were Naval Sailors for the British. So its has the aquatic theme or just ditch it for a more Atlantis/Limuria theme with a hint of Jason Momoa's Aquaman thrown in just for the hell of it.
The pickaxe looking version could have Farhad dress as a Mountain climber maybe one inspired by the many people groups from the Himalayas since that mountain range is literally the border between South Asia and East Asia.
In the Image below we see Farhad's staff looking like a construction hammer. Interestingly a large number of Bangladeshi migrants across Asia tend to work in Construction too so maybe a builder or demolition costume can fit with that.
One thing incredibly important about Overwatch and their character designs are the personalities these characters have. So it is important we apply this to Farhad aswell. We reckon Farhad should come across as warm and friendly at his best and hotblooded and competitive at his worst.
Think of him as the rogue-ish charmer, the wannabe Casanova and party animal (fitting due to his festival motif in his colours). Constantly making puns, be it about fire, heat or electricity (depending on costume), making references to music, dancing and partying whilst being friendly with the male characters claiming that he will be their best "wingman" and that "he's Fly". And making one or two flirting comments to some of the female characters who will either react with annoyance or amusement.
Additionally his victory poses with the group can include crouching on one knee with his staff similar to one of Genji's poses. One of him hovering whilst raising his staff and finally one of him holding his staff on his shoulders, behind his neck with his arms curled around it. Similar to Jade in her Mortal Kombat 11 intros.
His Play of the Games can include him flying in loop with his cyber wings. Another can consist of him doing a staff pattern with a plasma trail similar to the Lathi Khela performance with the ribbon on the end, before slamming the staff against the floor. His third can include activating his shield drone as it glows and floats much like one of the Floating Lanterns seen in Shakrain before winking towards the camera.
Finally the most important part of his character is his dance. We all love the fact that the Overwatch character have a dance emote either based on a traditional culture like Widowmaker's French Ballet, Symmetra's Indian styled dance and Hanzo's fisherman dance. Some have more modern inspirtations like Sombra's Cutting shapes style, Genji's techno break dance or Mercy's Hustle. As most traditional Bangladeshi dances are performed by women, we felt for Farhad his dance should be either inspired by something more modern and masculine like Siam Ahmed's dancing with Ridy Sheikh in the Bangladeshi Bondhurey music video by Qinetic Music or a Breakdance sequence based off this Jalali Set dance by Bangladesh dance crew Street X Films.
For Farhad voice acting will be very important as Overwatch tends to prefer voice actors who can speak the language or mimic the correct accent for most of their characters. Since Bangladesh is a country that fought for independence for the sake if their Bengali language. It is extremely important to have Bangladeshi fluent in Bengali for this type of role. Sam Hargrave did try to have Raffael Ahsan (a Bangladeshi filmmaker) translate the script for Extraction. But unfortunately the entire Indian cast could not speak the language and accent well enough much to the disappointment of the Bangladeshi audience. So for this we need to get it right.
Best choices for voice actors are:
Man like Malik, its Mistah Islah himself. Being fluent in English and Bengali will be perfect for this voice role and as we've seen him use his Bengali multiple times and even made a quick web series called Mind your Slanguage where he participates in showing off his knowledge of Bengali.. He is definitely the type of English voice actor Blizzard would want for a Bangladeshi character. On top of that Islah has also shown skills at accents, beatboxing and singing. Whilst not necessary it could add more character and voice lines to Farhad. Just a bit of Hidden Depths. Islah is best known for his roles in Mandem on the Wall, Cornershop Show, Man like Mobeen, Those 4 Walls and his latest role was in Reggie Yates' film Make Me Famous on BBC 3.
British Bangladeshi actor Jan Uddin has had quite few roles here and there. Having lived in Birmingham, London, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Sweden and now the USA. He can definitely pull off the voice role if Blizzard hired him. He has played multiple roles such as Chromicon Isaiah in Marvel's Agents of Shield, Ottoman soldier Tariq in Cliffs of Freedom, British Pakistani gangster KD in Lies We Tell, Arabian soldier Ibn Idriss in Day of the Falcon and British Bangladeshi gangster Sweetboy in Shank. Notably his role in Shank is the only time he gets to show off his Bengali as Sweetboy uses it the language in three of his lines in the film. In his roles as KD and Ibn Idriss he has had to just his voice to a deeper baritone and learn the correct accents such as the "Bradistani" accent for KD and the Arabian one for Ibn Idriss.
Born in Dhaka, Bangladesh and raised in Canada. We have a tall, dark former boxer, aspiring actor and producer Dana Abraham. Whilst his career is starting slow. He has a few roles to his name such as Buddy in Bedtime stories for Men, Raul in Brotherhood, Drew in The Rub, Nick in Prisoner of Fear and his upcoming role as Dr.J.Perez in Maternal. While he is producing many of these himself, it shows that he has commitment and is hardworking. It is very likely he is fluent in English and Bengali, though his Canadian accent could be used if they were to have Farhad have studied in Canada and potentially have interacted with Overwatch character like Sorjourn or Pharah both of whom have a connection to Canada.
Born in Chicago to Bangladeshi parents we have Rahsaan Noor. Rahsaan has floated under the radar for most part but many of his films have had him use his fluency in both English and Bengali which again will be useful with the number of Bilingual voice actors the English version of Overwatch has. Many of his roles include Johnny in Kings of Devon, Amar/Raiyan in Simanaheen, Asad Khan in the Promise Land and his latest was Afzal Khan in Bengali Beauty. Hopefully he will get the chance to grow as an actor and find more roles in the mainstream.
Finally we get to Siam Ahmed. Unlike the other options we suggested, Siam Ahmed is actually born and raised in Bangladesh, but he did study and graduate at the University of London so its pretty much guaranteed that he can speak English and Bengali with the perfect accent for the character. You would have seen Siam Ahmed earlier in the article as the Male Lead for the song Bondhurey alongside the Female Lead Russian Bangladeshi dancer Ridy Sheikh. Well the song itself is actually sung by Bangladeshi American singer Muza but it shows how Siam Ahmed could potentially break out into the international scene as an actor. Many of Siam's acting experience have been in Bangladeshi films and TV Shows.
What do you think of this concept? Reckon Blizzard should introduce this character? Lets hope they see this and get to bring Farhad to the game. And big up Andrew Soman for the artwork over this concept. Without him we never would have thought to expand on such a character with so much cultural potential.