Constitutionally India is a secular state which promises religious, social and cultural freedom to its minorities but actual Indian state still has a long way to go to achieve the desired neutrality. Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists , and Dalits still tread in an air of fear caused by the fanatic Hindu groups. Though time and again Muslim lynchings mere on the doubt of beef consumption have taken place but Indian media has not been much vocal about them.
Muslim Bollywood actress ZairaWasim, who is originally from Indian-administered Kashmir, rose to prominence with Indian blockbuster film “Dangal” in which she worked alongside the likes of Aamir Khan. Since then, she has been involved in multiple projects including ‘Secret Superstar’, in which she starred as an aspiring young singer.
Such super hits in the beginning of her career shot her to fame, everyone in the Bollywood now looks upto this young but promising starlet. Fast forward 3 years and a shining journey through the B-town, Zaira on 30th June’2019 shocked her fans as she announced on her Facebook account that she will no longer be a part of Bollywood fraternity.
What shocked everyone more than the 18 year old’s decision was the reason she gave behind it, that her profession ‘threatened’ her relationship with religion. In a lengthy post on Facebook she explains that working in Bollywood , although felt sweet in the beginning, but gradually made her confused as she battled with her relationship with her Creator. She explains her struggles to find meaning behind her work. In clear words, she says:
“This field indeed brought a lot of love, support, and applaud my way, but what it also did was to lead me to a path of ignorance, as I silently and unconsciously transitioned out of imaan.”
She further explains the difficulties she has faced on this path.
“It was always so easy to succumb to the environment that damaged my peace, imaan [faith] and my relationship with Allah.”She said as she continued to “ignorantly pass through” while trying to convince herself that what she was doing was okay and was not really affecting her, “I lost all the ‘Barakah” (blessing) from my life”.
As soon as Zaira wrote this heartfelt post, she was flooded with a barrage of responses, most of them being supportive messages from her fans. They are all praises for her for being so enlightened and giving up her current life to do what she thinks is best for her. She was even supported by popular Muslim scholar Mufti Menk.
While the sensitive topic of religion that she has touched garnered support from thousands of people, it has also triggered a backlash from thousands more. People from all over Bollywood community are now giving their input about whether Zaira should have dragged religious beliefs in her statement. People are thrashing her for being a “religious fanatic”. Journalist Pratik Sinha tweeted a brutal blow by calling out her decision:
“It is sad to see a young adult throw away a promising career and her decision to do so being rooted in religion. We need more Zairas to break away from the clutches of religion and become successful individuals, and not the other way round.”
Pratik was supported by famed Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon, who also jumped in to support those who continue to search a meaningful life in B-town. Raveena has debated that Zaira’s statement can serve to demoralize young girls who are trying to make their way through Bollywood. She thinks the post intends to make them feel guilty, and shows Zaira’s own ‘regressive’ mindset.
“Doesn’t matter if two film olds are ungrateful to the industry that have given them all. Just wish they’d exit gracefully and keep their regressive views to themselves.”
In another tweet, Raveena said:
“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.”
Raveena’s tweet sparked the fire as more of Zaira’s critics came to argue that although her decision to quit acting is justified, she should not have made such a post implying all those who are in Bollywood family as people who have no faith and are miles away from religion and spirituality. Her statement is being seen as stigmatizing all Bollywood artists as far away from self-righteousness.
Journalist Tarek Fateh also spoke up against Zaira’s decision:
— Tarek Fatah (@TarekFatah) July 1, 2019
In a tweet on Monday, Zaira Wasim confirmed that her social media accounts had not been hacked and she was infact quitting Bollywood for good. But in a religiously volatile region like India, her statement has sparked a massive debate about how she should have kept her religious beliefs to herself and ‘quietly left Bollywood’.
Her in-depth post, which contains portions of Quranic verses as well and can serve as a reminder for everyone following this religion, has stirred up the far-leftists. We as a society need to be more accepting not only towards people’s life decisions but also the reasons behind them. Whether we agree with their reasons or not, the best we can do is wish them luck in their new-found epiphany and enable them to pursue happiness in life, whichever way suits them.
Making big decisions in such a young age is a big achievement, let’s applaud!Zaira is all set to appear in a new movie, ‘The Sky Is Pink’, where she plays a real-life child Aisha Chaudhary who was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. Producers of the movie say they support her decision and she has been a “complete professional” throughout the filming of the movie. The movie, which releases in October 2019, will be Zaira’s last.