Mumbai: 'Dangal' fame Zaira Wasim's decision to quit Bollywood has left the celebrities of film industry surprised but they feel that her decision should be respected.
Bollywood celebrities like Raza Murad, Neil Nitin Mukesh, Tanushree Dutta, Daisy Shah, and Karanvir Bohra unanimously said that Zaira's decision to quit celluloid world was her personal and praised 'Secret Superstar' actor for the stellar performance she did in two of her films.
Murad accepted her decision but said that relating her decision with religion is totally unreasonable.
"It is totally her decision to quit the field and we must respect it. But relating it to her religion is unreasonable. All the Islamic countries in the world where Islamic laws are followed including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Iran, and Afghanistan, etc., have female news readers, actors," he said.
He recalled working with late Farookh Sheikh and said: "Farookh Sheikh acted in films without compromising with his prayers. So, these things go hand in hand."
"Sania Mirza is also religious who keeps 'Roza', prays and she has elevated India's name to great heights through tennis," he added.
"The real reason behind Zaira's decision is known only to her. Maybe people advised her or maybe she wouldn't be at peace with her mind. If she wishes to walk on the path of religion, she is totally free to do so," he said.
Actor Neil Nitin Mukesh, who is currently busy shooting for Saaho, didn't say much but blessed Zaira for her future journey.
"I just wish her all the very best because I don't comment on anything religious or political."
Tanushree Dutta, who was recently in the news after she levelled allegations against Nana Patekar, said: "As I read her full post, I couldn't help but wonder if Zaira's true calling in life is, in fact, to be a young spiritual leader of some sort guiding young Muslims to the true knowledge of Allah and Quran."
She said if Zaira steps out to show the true mystical wisdom to the world, she would find a follower in her.
"In today's times, many young minds are getting corrupted through fanaticism and aggressive violent ideologies. Can Zaira be the voice of reason and show the world the true mystical and graceful wisdom of the Quran? If she does, she surely has one follower in me," added Dutta.
She continued: "Wouldn't it be wonderful to have this kid start a YouTube blog sharing her faith? Clearly, her understanding and grasp on religion is far superior to what I have seen so far among seasoned clerics even. Perhaps it is due to her youthful innocence and I pray it remains that way and she receives more grace and wisdom from the almighty to share with others!"
Tanushree, however, lashed out at those criticising her decision. "And now for the people who are criticising her decision to quit Bollywood, I will say that she is only a teenager. Let her do what her heart calls her towards at this moment and who knows maybe someday if she finds something worth her time she may even do something in Bollywood again. Best wishes and loads of love."
"I can't comment because it's a very serious topic. The only thing that matters here is how hard you work towards your goal," actor Daisy Shah said.
TV actor Ritvik Dhanjani said: "I think she is a very good actor and shouldn't have quit acting, she's amazing!"
Karanvir Bora praised Zaira for her performances and said, "God bless her for whatever she is doing in life. She is more intelligent and she might have taken this step after giving it a thought. She will anyway be accepted once she comes back because she has proved herself her metal."
Filmmaker and social activist Ashoke Pandit feels that any form of art brings a person closer to God.
"As a performer, I believe that very few are endowed with the gift of art. Everybody can't be an actor. I don't have any problem if you want to retire. However, don't connect it with religion," he told ANI.
"If you think your career is not going the way you want, then you can retire but don't say that you are going away from God due to acting," he added.
Speaking about her Instagram post where she mentioned that she is a proud Muslim and happy that she has many followers from Pakistan, he said: "But nowhere does she mention that she is a proud Indian too."
Expressing concern if she is being pressurised to leave acting, Pandit said: "If you are pressurised either from Pakistan or any terrorist organisation from Kashmir to leave this field, then come out in open and speak about it but don't give it a religious connotation."
Zaira's decision to quit acting was received with surprise and remorse even by the people from different walks of life.
Some say that Zaira's decision should be respected if taken out of choice, while others feel disappointed if she has taken the decision due to any threat or fatwa.
However, many others think that this could merely be a publicity stunt as her film 'The Sky is Pink' is scheduled to release on October 11. Zaira shot into eminence due to her stellar performance in 'Dangal' movie.
Talking about Zaira's Instagram post where she talks about 'Allah' and 'Quran,' Abha Singh, a women activist, said: "My worry is whether this girl has been threatened because she comes from Kashmir."
"I don't go by what she has written. There is much more than what meets the eye. It is difficult to believe an 18-year-old child writing a letter, where she talks of philosophical things," Singh told ANI.
Talking about former chief minister Omar Abdullah's tweet where he wrote that it was her decision to make her life choices while wishing Zaira happiness in life, Singh said: "The government of Jammu and Kashmir should investigate if there is an outside pressure on her as she is a youth icon."
"Somewhere the fundamentalist forces are either pressurising her or by making her reiterate sending a message to the youth of the country that doesn't take part in the growth of the country. So when Zaira decides to withdraw, it is not she as an individual but a youth icon who is sending the wrong message to the youth of the country," adds Singh.
Concerned about her safety, Singh said: "I would like the state police to investigate and give her proper security as she must be going to the home state. They must find out whether her family has been taken to ransom or if there are some fundamentalist forces who are systematically conditioning her mind."
However, she also said that this could be a PR exercise as well, as her movie is going to release after a few months.
Another women activist Zeenat Soukat Ali said: "It is her personal decision. We can't do anything about it. I am not sure if she has taken the decision under any pressure. If not, then we should respect the move."
"If Zaira Wasim is quitting acting because of threat or fatwa, then this is unfortunate; but if she is doing this out of her own will, then we should respect her decision," said BJP leader Shazia Ilmi.
The BJP leader said that Wasim has all the right to listen to her inner consciousness and decide the goals of her life.
"If she feels that she cannot work in the movies because it interferes in her faith and religion, then we should understand this decision of hers," she told ANI.
However, Muslim clerics think that quitting the industry is her personal decision and people should accept it rather than making it an issue.
Maulana Sajid Rashidi said: "It is better late than never. We should welcome the move."
"It could, however, be a publicity stunt as her movie is coming. She has time and again blamed the religious leader of threatening her to stay in the limelight," added Rashidi.
Another cleric Dr Rehan Akhtar Qasami said: "When it comes to any religion, every person is free. People should not make it an issue."
"This is true that Islam prohibits acting in films. The decision to quit is Zaira's personal decision. Every person has both legal and religious right to take the decision about his or her career," Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi told ANI.
"It's a welcome step. People should not have a problem with this. As far as I know, there was no pressure on her to take the step," said Firangi.
Welcoming Zaira's move, Maulana Yasoob Abbas said: "Other actors should also take a cue from her and listen to their inner voice. Women are not an object of exhibition."
Earlier today, Zaira posted a lengthy statement stating the reasons behind her decision to quit Bollywood. The18-year-old said she is not happy with her current line of work, which has silently and unconsciously transitioned her "out of Imaan".
The actor will be seen essaying a role in 'The Sky is Pink,' which also stars Priyanka Chopra, Jonas, and Farhan Akhtar. The shooting of the film was completed in March.