‘Dangal’ movie star Zaira Wasim quits Bollywood, says it led her away from Islam

by BERNAMA / pic by AFP

NEW DELHI – Award-winning teenage film star Zaira Wasim (picture), who acted in one of India’s most popular films, has quit Bollywood, saying it interfered with her Islamic religious life.

The “Dangal” movie star said she could not reconcile her faith with the requirements of a career in Indian cinema.

“This journey has been exhausting, to battle my soul for so long. Life is too short yet too long to be at war with oneself. Therefore, today I arrive at this well-grounded decision and I officially declare my disassociation with this field,” Zaira said in a long statement on social media on Sunday.

“Dangal” (wrestling arena in Hindi), based on the story of an Indian amateur wrestler whose ambition is to see her daughters become wrestling champions, achieved record ticket sales in 2016.

Zaira won the National Child Award for Exceptional Achievement for her role in the movie, which features superstar Aamir Khan.

The 18-year-old said despite gaining fame and popularity, she was “not truly happy” with her line of work.

“This field indeed brought a lot of love, support, and applause 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’ (faith). While I continued to work in an environment that consistently interfered with my imaan, my relationship with my religion was threatened,” Zaira said.

“May Allah give us a better understanding of His wisdom and allow us to exhibit our efforts to alleviate doubt and error at individual levels and guide each other. May Allah cleanse our hearts from hypocrisy, arrogance and ignorance and rectify our intentions and grant us sincerity in speech and in our deeds,” she said.

Mufti Ismail Menk, a well-known Islamic scholar from Zimbabwe, and Omar Abdullah, former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, were among those who supported Zaira’s decision to quit her Bollywood career.

Her decision was widely praised in her native state Kashmir, but many social media users in India also trolled her with nasty comments.

“Zaira, 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,” prominent journalist Yusuf Jameel wrote in a Facebook post.

Political activist Shehla Rashid commented: “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.”

Zaira recently completed the shoot for her new movie “The Sky Is Pink”, which has Priyanka Chopra in a key role and is scheduled for release this year.