Meet NinjaBee: India’s first hijabi superhero from Hyderabad

Hyderabad: Flying capes, shooting webs, night vision goggles and fancy gadgets. All of this is the quintessential Western superhero. But what use are superheroes, if you can’t relate to them?

Hyderabad-based new media designer Mehdi Saajid aims to address this very question through his proposed superhero graphic novel.

NinjaBee, his hijab-wearing, ninja power-wielding superhero, is an attempt at showcasing the diversity that exists in the country. NinjaBee, the proposed graphic novel celebrates Muslim women and is rooted in the Deccan cultural heritage of Hyderabad.

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A post shared by Niloufer (@ninjabee_superhero)

The new media artist is not a stranger to Hyderabad-based art. One of his earlier works, a new media geometric art installation called The Royal House of Mourning was showcased at the Utopian Dystopia exhibition in Kochi last year. This was inspired by the Baadshahi Ashoorkhana in Hyderabad.

The story of Mehdi’s graphic Novel revolves around the life of Niloufer, who has the personality traits of a bee and the skills of a ninja, transforming her into a ‘NinjaBee’.

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Talking about the way he named his character; Mehdi recalls that numerous hijab-wearing women are mockingly called Ninjas in schools and colleges. “Even one of my friends was called the same,” he said.

Through his graphic novel, he attempts to subvert this definition, transforming the ‘ninja’ reference into a strength.

The story is located in Old City, epitomizing the cultural heritage of the city. Mehdi believes that the city offers him a chance for juxtaposition, with the right mixture of tradition and modernity. He said that coming from the same culture and city makes it easier for him to delve into its intricacies.

Like many other superheroes, Mehdi’s ‘NinjaBee’ also leads a double life. When she is not out in the city fighting bad guys, she is a student of Unani medicine.

Unani’s relation with Muslim culture, Urdu and Hyderabad led to Mehdi choosing it as his superhero’s choice of education.

“Unani as an alternative medicinal technique has never been given a voice,” he said.

The underrepresentation of Muslim women in popular culture is what pushed Mehdi to create his graphic novel. “Whatever little representation that happens depicts them in a very stereotypical way,” he told

“A Muslim girl has no one to look up to, when it comes to superhero-like figures, NinjaBee can become that superhero,” the new media designer voices hope on what his creation will come to mean for children in the country.

The designer has big plans for his graphic novel. “80 percent of it is complete. I am planning to release it in a month’s time,” he said. In the future, Mehdi also wishes to bring his superhero onto the silver screen.

Mehdi does not aim to make a big-time political statement with his pet-project.

“My project is at a very early stage. Right now, I just want to foster inclusivity in the country during these troubled times,” he added.