For preschool-age children, the series weaves authentic Indian culture and customs into two 11-minutes stories set in the magical Indian-inspired land of Jalpur. Each episode features the brave and resourceful Mira, a young girl who travels throughout Jalpur solving mysteries for her friends, family and extended community.
One of the coolest things about Mira, Royal Detective is that it celebrates authentic Indian music, dance, food, fashion, language and art by incorporating the diversity of the culture into the mystery-filled storylines.
One of the people responsible for the accuracy and realness of the stories is the cultural consultant for the show Shagorika Ghosh Perkins. She is the person that makes sure that Mira, Royal Detective is authentic in every aspect of the show from the stories, depiction of Indian culture, the characters’ lines, pronunciation, costumes, architecture and so much more.
In this fascinating interview, Shagorika Ghosh Perkins gave us insight into the behind the scenes work that goes into creating the world of Mira, her thoughts on how important this show is as a representation of South Asian culture and what we can expect in season 2.
When the idea of a children’s show with a lead South Asian character, what were your first thoughts?
I did not know much about the project and had heard only broad brushstrokes about Disney Junior exploring a new series that incorporated Indian themes and culture. I wasn’t sure if it was just an exploratory discussion or whether it would really come to fruition because a project like this, on Disney, was beyond my wildest dreams. So, I went into the meeting cautiously optimistic. As it slowly dawned on me during the discussion that this was really going to happen, I was absolutely thrilled!
When you first saw the renderings and then the first episode what were your feelings?
I remember I cried… I had the opportunity to view the first episode at one of the screening rooms at Disney studios, with a few other members of the team. It brought tears to my eyes—to all of our eyes —tears of joy, seeing Mira on screen, our combined labor of love. It is an unforgettable moment.
As the cultural consultant, what do you see as your main focus?
There are several aspects that I look at, from the broad arc of the storyline to the minute details of animation. If I were to choose a couple, I’d say that my primary areas of focus are reviewing dialogue and design, both of which are key to ensuring cultural accuracy within the framework of Disney’s fantasy world. With dialogue, I hone pronunciations, incorporation of simple yet familiar Hindi phrases, and accurate representation of family and social dynamics in Indian society. In terms of design, I look at the personalities and attire of the characters, the architecture and colors of set designs, and the realistic depiction of Indian culture, festivals and other social occasions.
How do you work with the team on the series?
I collaborate with the Disney Junior team routinely. We discuss broad themes and detailed nuances of each upcoming episode during the writing phase and work through design elements with the art and design team, such as details of how events and interactions are portrayed. In terms of the process, I receive the storyline first, followed later by the script. The team sends me words and phrases for pronunciation review, and production moves through various stages of animation, which I review throughout the process. Owing to the diversity of characters even within the series, I reach out to other regional organizations and community resources for their input and recommendations in terms of character depictions, names, and other factors, as needed.
How important to you that this show just exists for South Asian children and adults? Not only that, but that it is a show that has and is going to educate so many people both young and old here in the US but also all over the world. What are your thoughts on that?
As technology shrinks the world and blurs borders, it’s crucial for children (and adults, for that matter) of every race and ethnicity—and all walks of life—to feel represented in the world, including in entertainment. Diversity and inclusion are cornerstones of a harmonious society. In today’s world, there is plenty to divide us, so it’s very refreshing to see Disney create shows embracing this diversity.
Mira, Royal Detective, is entertaining for its young audience, but it also helps children learn to think through mysteries and solve problems, as Mira does, with compassion for everyone in her town, from the queen to the animals. The show breaks ground as the first Disney Junior series featuring an all South-Asian cast, that brings to life the culture and diversity of India for its audience. South Asian kids and their parents can see themselves through the show, whereas, other children and families around the world can learn about, identify with, and embrace aspects of South Asian culture that they may not have been exposed to previously.
What are you the proudest about in terms of Mira, Royal Detective?
For me, the journey has been the destination. I’ve loved and embraced every part of the process—each brainstorming session, character development, every discussion. But what gives me the greatest satisfaction is the knowledge that South-Asian children around the world have a fun, positive show that they can identify with, to help them feel like an important part of the global community. Mira, Royal Detective is a vehicle through which these kids can take pride in and share their culture with other children. Being a part of this amazing team, helping to increase the visibility of South-Asian culture for a new generation around the world, is immensely satisfying, and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of it.
What can we expect from Season 2 of Mira, Royal Detective?
Season 2 will bring more for the audience to explore—new gadgets, machines that go underwater and fly high in the sky; there are festivals to celebrate, like Eid and Dasara; weddings to attend, and plenty of mongoose banter sprinkled in! Of course, our favorite bandits will continue to make mischief and we have some new guest voice talent such as Ritesh Rajan and Zakir Hussain. And last, but certainly not the least we have four extended-length special episodes in the making. Look out for another wonderfully exciting season of Mira, Royal Detective.
New episodes of Mira, Royal Detective premiere on Mondays at 5:00pm on Disney Junior and DisneyNOW for the next seven weeks so be sure to check it out!