Dangal star and Kashmir-born actress Zaira Wasim, announced via a lengthy Facebook post on Sunday that she had decided to quit Bollywood, as she believed that her profession was interfering with her faith.
Her declaration has triggered a political and social debate in India. The twitterati, as always, have chimed in with their opinions.
Dear #ZairaWasim I respect your decision of quitting movies. I don't agree with the reasons that you've given. I think you're an incredible actress and you can do so much more with your career.— Faridoon Shahryar (@iFaridoon) June 30, 2019
I genuinely hope you'd rethink and continue to pursue Acting…
Respect choice of Zaira Wasim quitting acting in movies but she can’t invoke religion and faith to justify this. Are others in the field some kind of sinners?This dawning of new reality should be her own truth & her own interpretation of religion. Period.— Imtiyaz Hussain (@hussain_imtiyaz) July 1, 2019
An 18-year-old woman has come to a personal decision about her faith and career. It may not be the decision you would have made, or one that you would have wished her to make. But it’s still her decision. Let’s just thank #ZairaWasim for her work and wish her well. Case closed.— Sadanand Dhume (@dhume) June 30, 2019
While some have supported Zaira’s right to make a decision about her personal life, others, like Congress spokesman Randeep Surjewala, have claimed that her words might serve as fodder for bigotry among fundamentalists.
The actress, who had won a National Award for her role in Aamir Khan’s movie Dangal, said that she had long felt a disassociation from her chosen profession, as it reportedly interfered with her religion and her faith in God.
According to her associates, Zaira had for a long time been struggling to find a balance between fame and spirituality, and had not been happy with the way Bollywood functioned and the life into which it had led her.
Omar Abdullah, former Chief Minister of Kashmir and current vice president of the National Conference, said that no one should question Zaira’s choices and that she should do whatever made her happy.
Who are any of us to question @ZairaWasimmm’s choices? It’s her life to do with as she pleases. All I will do is wish her well & hope that what ever she does makes her happy.— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) June 30, 2019
Some, like former Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon, weren’t so supportive and called Zaira out for allegedly demeaning the film industry on the basis of religion.
I respect her decision to quit,announce to her fans,her life,her choice.would’ve been more graceful if she had not condemned all as the reason for doing so.discovering spirituality is beautiful,but don’t demean others.When girls in industry are wronged, I’m the first to protest. https://t.co/DV8KVU3bfi— Raveena Tandon (@TandonRaveena) July 1, 2019
Priyanka Chaturvedi of the Shiv Sena said that while Zaira leaving the film industry was a personal decision that should be respected, linking that decision to faith was uncalled for. Many persons from the same community had achieved great success through Bollywood. Does Zaira’s stance imply that these stalwarts didn’t properly understand their faith, she asked on Twitter. She further opined that Zaira shouldn’t do anything that would make Islam sound intolerant.
Zaira Wasim moving on from film industry is alright and the country wishes her well. To each their own calling. However it was unfortunate to read in her letter that the decision was taken on the basis of her belief that it hinders her to practise her faith.— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) July 1, 2019
In her post, which was shared on various online platforms, Wasim claimed that she felt as though she had been struggling to become a different person for a long time.
Apart from Dangal, she had also played the lead in Aamir Khan’s ‘Secret Superstar’ and will be appearing in the soon-to-be-released film ‘The Sky Is Pink’, directed by Shonali Bose. This upcoming 2019 film also stars Farhan Akhtar and the recently-married Priyanka Chopra Jonas.
In the 2018 Filmfare awards, Zaira won a trophy in the ‘Best Actress’ category for her role in Secret Superstar. Previously, the 18-year-old actress had been closely associated with the #MeToo movement.
In 2017, she had claimed that she had been harassed by a co-passenger while on an Air Vistara flight between Mumbai and Delhi. In response, the airline had issued an official apology and promised a detailed investigation.
In her Facebook post, Wasim acknowledged the love and support that Bollywood had brought her way, but said that the industry conflicted with her sense of ‘imaan’ and that she had lost all blessing or ‘barakah’ from her life since she started acting.
Zaira Wasim said that fighting against her soul and her beliefs for so long and twisting her perceptions into what she wanted them to be, had been an exhausting trial. Life, she concluded, was both too short and too long to be at war with one’s own self.
Whatever the reasons might have been for her decision, the question, at the end of the day, remains the same:
Are women allowed to decide the course of their own lives? And if so, then what happens if their decision happens to go against the conventional wisdom of mainstream feminism?
And in Zaira’s case, is her spiritualism in conflict with her feminism, or can they complement each other yet?
Banner Image Credit: Indiatoday.in