How Zaira’s Goodbye To Bollywood Was Responded By Virtual World?

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by Umar Khurshid

Srinagar: Usually, Kashmir wakes up with the breaking news of encounters. But on Sunday, it was Zaira Wasim, a talented Kashmir actor, who was the talk of the day. The superstar disassociated herself from the Bollywood industry by releasing a Facebook post. The decision has shocked many as there were many more who were happy.

Minutes after an 18-year-old Kashmiri actress Zaira Wasim-also known as Dangal girl, announced her disassociation from Bollywood film industry, as it ‘conflicted with her religious identity and beliefs’, the decision has garnered a mixed response from the people around the globe. She is being appreciated and also being criticized. For most of the day, she set the social media space in Kashmir on fire.

Zaira Wasim after receiving an award in New Delhi

Public figures from across the world reacted to her decision suggesting dos and don’ts to her. Besides people associated with acting career, bureaucrats, politicians, businessmen are on the same track suggesting Zaira what to do and what not.

It was exactly 5: 32 am, soon after the Fajir prayers concluded, when the 18-year-old Bollywood actress from Hawal area of Srinagar, took to micro-blogging sites including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and expressed her dissatisfaction with her acting career.

Her 1,947-word post fetched almost 25 thousand comments on Social media, however, the most relevant comment that made headlines was from Zimbabwe’s Grand Mufti Dr Mufti Ismail Menk. Mufti Menk appreciated the Zaira’s decision of disassociation from the Bollywood.

“May the Almighty bless you, be with you, keep guiding you, protect you, grant you goodness, happiness, contentment, bliss and success in this world and the next & the same for every one of us. Aameen,” Mufti Menk wrote in a reply to Zaira’s post on Facebook.

Zaira Wasim has performed in various Bollywood films including Secret Superstar

Famous for his social media outreach, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir and National Conference (NC) vice president Omar Abdullah took to his, Twitter handle, his favorite tool to expresses his opinions, and wrote: “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 whatever she does makes her happy.”

A former bureaucrat and Jammu and Kashmir people’s Movement (JKPM) chairman Dr Shah Faesal while appreciating her decision and praising her success at this age, wrote; “I always respected @ZairaWasimmm’s decision to be an actor. Perhaps no other Kashmiri has achieved such an iconic status, such success and fame, at such a young age. And today, as she quit the industry, I have no choice but to respect her decision. Wish her luck.”

A Kashmiri senior Journalist Yousuf Jameel wrote; “It is your life and you are entitled to take decisions about it. We all must respect your personal rights. Also,

I’m sure you have the ability to create the successful life you want. You are entitled to a great life. I wish you good luck for a bright and prosperous future.”

Wishing her good luck, former JNU student leader Shehla Rashid who recently joined politics wrote: “You are a talented and intelligent person. You will do well in whatever field you choose. All the best for your life ahead. Hope you will continue to make us proud in whatever profession you choose.”

A Kashmir Twitterati named Fatima, wrote, “Protruding noses are a curse. We keep shoving them everywhere. Let her be.”

One of Kashmir’s celebrated young journalists, Ashwaq Masoodi, wrote a twitter thread: “When a woman takes a decision, whether it contradicts popular opinion or not, somehow people always question her intelligence to know what is good for herself. #ZairaWasim.”

Blaming religion for acting as a blockade in way of success, a Facebook user, Ashutosh Goyal, in a reply to Zaira’s post, wrote:  “This’s how religion could be toxic in way of success.”

“The Brainwash finally catches up huh”, another user Dhruv Bhagat, wrote on Facebook.

Prashant Mishra wrote: “Now You are going on Right Track. Please take some of your friends from Bollywood along and do the best what you know “Stone Pelting”. That might take close to “Allah”. Do what you want, be in acting or don’t but don’t make everything religious.”

Zaira Wasim with Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti (KL Image)

In another trolling comment, a user from Kanpur, UP, Pritish Awasthi wrote: “Great decision pls stick to it… Pls take sharukh and Amir with you on the path of islam… Thanks a lot for leaving Bollywood.. Kashmir needs you, work hard to become a great stone pelter. May allah give you strength.”

Calling herself a big fan of Zaira and congratulating her for success and contribution in film industry, a Facebook user Shrishty Rawat wrote: “Its ur own decision zaira and we all respect it.. But yes we will always remember ur contribution in Bollywood.. Always thnkuu to uh for such a lovely and appreciate full acting by uh but we all will always be ur fan .. Uh will always be in ur heart.. Once again thnku so much but we really want uh to be affair on social media… Ur small fan #srishtyrwt we’ll miss uh. Thnku for ur such a wonderful contribution.”

Wishing her the best luck for her future, another FB user Sekhar Prajapati wrote: “Wish uhh all the very best for ur future endeavour.. we have got a great secret superstar in our industry and that would be your for always. Thanks for entertaining us. Congratulations for completing 5 years in Bollywood and yeah u r right we should be focused towards peace and stability always. Good luck.”‏

The main poster of the Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal (2016).

Calling Nusrat Jahan’s Sindoor and Zaira’s decision the same choice, a writer and a political observer Zainab Sikander tweeted; “So Nusrat Jahan wears sindoor, it’s her choice. Zaira Wasim quits films and it’s not her choice? Oh no, it’s Islam again? Hypocrites!”

Nusrat Jahan, an actress turned politician was earlier trolled for her attire on her maiden visit to the Parliament. Jahan is now a TMC Member of Parliament. She was trolled for marrying a Jain businessman and her choice to wear sindoor during the oath-taking ceremony in Parliament on 25 June. Muslim clerics have called-out Jahan over her “un-Islamic” practices.

“ZairaWasim ‘s decision to dissociate with the film industry (‘because it interferes with her faith’) should be understood and respected as much as Nusrat Jahan’s Sindoor-Bindi. That did not make Nusrat immoral as this does not make Zaira more moral. *Freedom to choose is supreme*,” Senior Editor The Wire Arfa Khanum Sherwani tweeted.

“It’s not about Islam’s compatibility with Cinema/arts or modernity. Neither Zaira’s decision a reflection on Islam.  Her decision is based on an individual’s understanding of her faith She should have the freedom to make life choices and lead her life the way she wants,” Sherwani wrote on Twitter.

In the meantime, veteran actress Raveena Tandon has reacted to Zaira’s announcement and she seems rather unhappy.

“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,” the 44-year-old actress wrote on her twitter handle.

Zaira began her acting carrier following an audition with 19000 girls and managed to grab one of the pivotal roles in Nitesh Tiwari’s Dangal.  Zaira played the role of wrestler Geeta Phogat in the biographical sports film, which emerged as the highest grossing Indian film, grossing more than 2,000 crores worldwide.  Following Dangal, Zaira also worked in Advait Chandan’s directorial debut Secret Superstar that also fetched a wordie appreciation to the star kid.

A Class 10 student of St. Paul’s International Academy then, Zaira was selected for the audition by a team of casting directors who showed up in her school and that began her eventful journey in Bollywood.

Before casting for Dangal, Zaira was made to do two advt films, as a part of the procedure, and her long flowing hair was trimmed for the boyish look. On that, Zaira later told media later that her new hairstyle made her cry, as she wanted to grow her hairs long.

This year in March, Zaira completed her shooting for The Sky Is Pink, the biopic of motivational speaker Aisha Chaudhary, a 19-year-old girl who died due to the disease of pulmonary fibrosis. Co-starring Priyanka Chopra and Farhan Akhtar, the film is set to theatrically release in India on October 11, 2019.

Zaira is also a recipient of numerous accolades, including a Filmfare Award and a National Film Award. Zaira was honoured with National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement by Ram Nath Kovind, the President of India, at a ceremony in New Delhi in 2017.

Zaira Waseem being honoured by the President-of-India

Her performances in both films Dangal and Superstar earned her critical acclaim as well as several awards, including the National Film Award for Best Supporting Actress for the former and the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Actress for the latter.

Besides, accolades and appreciation Zaira a list of controversies as well, in 2016, her photo with trimmed hair for the role of Dangal surfaced on social media and it resulted in online troll for being un-Islamic and getting a boyish look.

In January 2017, as the actress was nominated for the Dangal role, then chief minister of J&K Mehbooba Mufti described her a “Kashmiri role model”. Following which, Zaira posted an apology saying she is not the role model of Kashmiris.

In the same Year, then sports Minister Vijay Goel tweeted a message “Our daughters are breaking out of their cages and moving forward”, accompanied by a photo of him standing before a painting depicting two women – one in a hijab and another cowering in a cage.”  Zaira responded to Goel requesting him not to connect her to “such a discourteous depiction” and that woman in hijab were “beautiful and free”.

Later in December same year, Zaira was allegedly harassed by a male passenger in Air Vistara flight UK981 between Delhi and Mumbai. As the incident took place, Zaira subsequently took to her Twitter handle and posted a series of messages on her Instagram profile alleging that a man sitting behind her on the flight caressed while she was asleep. However, the matter was sorted out later and further investigations were also conducted in this regard.

In 2018, Zaira through a Facebook said that has been suffering from depression for over four years. The National Award winner opened up about her struggle via a lengthy post shared on Instagram. “I’m writing this to (finally) admit and confess that I, for a very long time have been suffering from depression,” Zaira wrote.

She said she has been “embarrassed and scared” to admit it not only because of the stigma that goes around with the word depression but most importantly because of always being told that ‘You’re too young to be depressed’ or ‘It’s just a phase.”

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