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Debate Rages Over Zaira Wasim’s Decision To leave Bollywood “For Faith.”

Social media is abuzz with debate over a Kashmiri teenager’s decision to stop acting in movies because it goes against her Islamic faith.

India’s New Delhi

In India, a decision by a teenage Muslim actress to leave Bollywood, claiming that her work was alienating her from her faith, has sparked a debate on social media.

Zaira Wasim, 18, wrote a lengthy Facebook post on Sunday that she later shared on Twitter and Instagram, announcing that she was ending her “promising” career in the Indian film industry.

Wasim wrote in her post, “This field indeed brought me a lot of love, support, and applause, but what it also did was to lead me to a path of ignorance, as I silently and unconsciously transitioned out of ‘imaan’ [faith].”

The adolescent, who has acted in two films thus far, wrote, “My relationship with my religion was threatened while I continued to work in an environment that consistently interfered with my ‘imaan.'”

Wasim, who is from Srinagar, the capital of India-administered Kashmir, became famous in 2016 when she made her acting debut in the movie “Dangal” (Wrestling Match), in which superstar Aamir Khan also appeared.

The true story of two successful wrestling sisters from India’s northwestern state of Haryana served as the basis for the film “Dangal.” The film, which became a huge success in Bollywood and made nearly $300 million worldwide, starred the teen as one of Khan’s two daughters.

Wasim received a lot of praise for the movie and received a number of awards, including the prestigious National Film Award in 2017 for best supporting actress.

I made a decision five years ago that would alter my life forever. I was able to gain a lot of popularity as soon as I entered Bollywood. The 18-year-old stated in her post, “I started to become the prime candidate for public attention, I was projected as the gospel of the idea of success, and I was frequently identified as a role model for the youth.”

However, “that’s never something I set out to do or become,” particularly in relation to my concepts of success and failure, which I had just begun to investigate and comprehend.

Wasim claimed that she had long ago “struggled” to become “someone else.” however I might fit here flawlessly, I don’t have a place here,” she composed.

She played a Muslim teenager in Wasim’s second film, the 2017 smash hit “Secret Superstar,” starring Khan once more. She wore a burqa and dreamed of becoming a singer, but her conservative father opposed her. She continues to pursue her passion, posting her songs online in complete anonymity, undeterred.

Al Jazeera’s calls and messages to Wasim, in which it expressed disappointment and inquired about her decision to quit filmmaking, received no response.

Assistance and criticism

Wasim’s Facebook post received over 17,000 comments and was shared over 13,000 times. A fan named Khushboo Kapoor commented, “I don’t know what made you take this tough decision, but I am feeling sad.”

Raveena Tandon, a former Bollywood actress, suggested that Wasim could have left “gracefully” and concealed her “regressive views.”

Many people thought that Wasim’s exit from film would make it harder for other Muslim women in India to work in film.

Mohommed Ali Shah, an actor, told Al Jazeera that, despite the fact that Wasim’s decision to stop acting due to her religion “should be respected,” she could have done so “quietly.”

He stated, “She should have left quietly and not made it public as it sets a wrong precedent for other Muslim actresses who have worked hard to earn their name in the field.” He argued that she should not have made her exit public.

Twitter client Ifra Jan said Wasim’s post has made it “challenging for each Muslim lady to pick a flighty vocation”. ” as if our society were insufficient!” She shared.

She went on to say, “But please don’t leave spitting at an industry and audience that gave you so much.”

Hiba Beg, on the other hand, questioned the “messiah complex” behind “saving” Muslim women in an article published on The Quint website.

She wrote, “We must stop using Muslim women as victims to feel better about our own choices.” It is very easy to stop acting as saviors for a community that did not ask for your assistance.

Banters on religion

Since Wasim is from the disputed Kashmir region, India’s only state with a majority Muslim population, social media debates tended to focus on how “permissive” Islam was toward Muslims, particularly women, acting in movies.

Ali Ahmed Qasmi, an Islamic scholar based in Delhi, told Al Jazeera that while he supported Wasim’s decision, Islam forbids men and women from working in film.

Islam forbids women from even speaking with or interacting with non-family members. Then, how can it be right to work in movies that require them to show their bodies? He stated

India’s most prominent television journalist, Barkha Dutt, stated that she was “deeply disturbed at the indoctrination of religious conservatism” that led to Wasim’s exit from filmmaking.

Dutt posted, “Choice is sometimes a complicated word,” which sparked a lively debate in which numerous Muslims defended the actress.

The individuals who had criticized the teenager’s decision were questioned by Omar Abdullah, the former chief minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Who among us is qualified to question Zaira Wasim’s decisions? He stated, “It’s her life to live as she pleases.” I will do nothing but wish her well and hope that whatever she does brings her happiness.

Stutee Ghosh, a film critic, told Al Jazeera that because Wasim was a “role model, not only for the Kashmiris but even otherwise,” it was normal for people to be surprised and shocked.

She stated that “choice and agency, especially for women, become complicated at a time when religious fundamentalism is on the rise.”

“One can trust that Zaira has taken the choice all alone and not under any coercion.”

Wasim’s third film “The Sky Is Pink”, close by Priyanka Chopra and Farhan Akhtar, is set to deliver in the not so distant future and could be her last appearance in Bollywood.


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