National Award winner Zaira Wasim on Sunday announced her decision to quit acting, saying it interfered with her faith and religion. The 19-year-old Srinagar-born star, who gained widespread popularity with her impressive debut in Dangal (2016), was last seen in Aamir Khan-produced Secret Superstar (2017).
“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,” Wasim announced in a long Facebook post, which she later shared across other social media platforms. “Therefore, today I arrive at this well-grounded decision and I officially declare my disassociation with this field (film industry)… 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),” she wrote. “While I continued to work in an environment that consistently interfered with my imaan (faith), my relationship with my religion was threatened.”
Zaira Wasim could not be contacted, with her phone switched off till late into Sunday evening.
Wasim had been the subject of a hate campaign in January 2017 after she met then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti. When Mufti, who was at the time facing massive protests, shared a picture of her with Wasim and called her a “real role model”, she was trolled, abused and cursed on social media in the Valley. This had forced her to write an “apology” saying she was not the real role model.
Zaira Wasim said she had been thinking about quitting for a long time and that she wasn’t “truly happy” with her new identity. “Five years ago I made a decision that changed my life forever. As I stepped (into) Bollywood, it opened doors of massive popularity for me. I started to become the prime candidate of public attention, I was projected as the gospel of the idea of success and was often identified as a role model for the youth,” she said. “However, that’s never something that I set out to do or become, especially with regards to my ideas of success and failure, which I had just started to explore and understand.”
She added, “As I continued to ignorantly pass through while I kept trying to convince myself that what I was doing is okay and isn’t really affecting me, I lost all the Barakah (blessings) from my life. Barakat is a word whose meaning isn’t just confined to happiness, quantity or blessing, it also focuses on the idea of stability, which is something I struggled with extensively,” she said. “I was constantly battling with my soul to reconcile my thoughts and instincts to fix a static picture of my imaan (faith) and I failed miserably, not just once but a hundred times… I kept procrastinating by tricking and deluding my conscience into the idea that I know what I am doing doesn’t feel right but assumed that I will put an end to this whenever the time feels right and I continued to put myself in a vulnerable position where it was always so easy to succumb to the environment that damaged my peace, imaan and my relationship with Allah… In the great and divine wisdom of the Quran, I found sufficiency and peace. Indeed the hearts find peace when it acquires the knowledge of Its Creator, His Attributes, His Mercy and His commandments.”
Former chief minister Omar Abdullah said Wasim’s decision should be respected. “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,” Omar tweeted.
Former bureaucrat-turned-politician Shah Faesal wished Wasim luck. “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,” Faesal tweeted.
Zaira Wasim’s new film The Sky is Pink, directed by Shonali Bose and co-starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Farhan Akhtar, is scheduled to release later this year. In a statement, the movie producers said, “Zaira is an exceptional artiste and we are lucky to have had her play Aisha Chaudhury in our film. She has been a complete professional all through the shoot of the film, which concluded earlier this month. This is a purely personal decision, which she has taken after much thought and we will be supportive of her in every way — now and always.”