Why the Outrage Over Zaira Wasim’s Decision to Quit Bollywood for Religion?
On Sunday, Zaira Wasim announced that she has decided to quit Bollywood, stating that it had threatened her relationship with religion. In her social media posts, Wasim clearly mentioned that in the last five years, she had changed as a person and struggled with who she had become. She also implies that she arrived at the decision after a lot of introspection.
However, her decision was not quite well received. From the film fraternity to political leaders, this became the raging topic over the weekend. After all, in our country, it doesn’t take much for an event to become politicized.
For example, Tasleema Nasreen called it a moronic decision and talked about how Muslim women are oppressed in the name of religion. Raveena Tandon too called it regressive and wished Wasim had quit Bollywood without creating a fuss.
Shiv Sena’s Priyanka Chaturvedi has a different take on things. She says that while faith and how it’s perceived varies from person to person, such statements only reinstates the popular opinion that Islam is intolerant. She also feels that Wasim’s statement belittles other Bollywood stars since it essentially claims that being in front of the camera goes against religion.
On the contrary, there were some who supported her decision and emphasised that this was a choice she’d made for herself and what others said didn’t even matter.
But the question arises, why so much hue and cry in the first place?
We’re living in a “free society” right? Then that also means that we have the right to choose what we want to do with our lives. If Wasim didn’t quite like who she’d become after entering Bollywood, she has every right to do what she feels will help her heal. And if religion is an integral part of her identity, then that too is a personal choice. Quitting Bollywood is just like quitting a job that’s bad for your mental health for Zaira.
But from what is evident, the issue here is not that she quit Bollywood. The issue, instead, is the fact that she cited religion as the reason. Now atrocious as it may sound to you, isn’t she entitled to determine how big a role religion will play in her career?
For instance, many claim that Wasim’s decision is casting an unfavorable light on Islam as a religion. Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, “Such remarks give fodder to bigots on either side of the divide to misconceive & mislead.”
Some feel that through her statement, Wasim is demeaning the acting profession by calling Bollywood “anti-Islam.”
Let me remind you this is not the first time. August T. Jones of ‘Two and a Half Men’ fame too took a similar decision a few years back. The actor who had ventured into the profession as a kid, just like Zaira, decided that the show had adversely affected his mental state and chose to pursue religion in order to redeem himself. He got baptised and devoted his life to religion.
If his decision was respected, why should Zaira be any exception?
As for Islam being called out as regressive, Wasim here clearly mentions that the decision was solely hers. If that’s the case, who are we to judge her or her religion for it?
If her decision had been taken under duress, debates on grounds of oppression may have been justified. The decision to quit Bollywood, irrespective for the reason, is hers entirely. If it does not concern anyone else, then why bother?
The whole fiasco that followed her announcement reinforces the idea that we’re living in an illusion of freedom.