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Zaira Wasim is…
Zaira Wasim is a schoolgirl from Srinagar, Kashmir, who played the teenaged years of the female lead of the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Hindi-Urdu film Dangal (2016).
Born: 23 October, 2000, in Srinagar
Height in 2016: 5' 1" (1.55 m)
School: St. Paul's International Academy, Sonwar, Srinagar
Zaira was studying in classes 9 and 10 when the film Dangal was shot
Father- Zahid Wasim (executive manager of Jammu and Kashmir Bank)
Brother- Zoraiz Wasim
2014: clinical depression at age 13
“I’m writing this to (finally) admit and confess that I, for a very long time have been suffering from severe anxiety and depression,’ wrote 17-year-old Zaira Wasim in an Instagram post on Friday. The actor added that her battle with clinical depression started four years ago when she just 13.
It’s a common misconception that depression is a disorder that affects only older folks, and most teenagers are not diagnosed until adulthood. Wasim, too, remembers “being told that theres no such thing as depression, it only happens to people above 25.”
Wasim, too, lists the problems she wrestled with. ‘Popping 5 antidepressants every day, anxiety attacks... feeling empty, restless, anxious, hallucinations, having sore limbs from sleeping too much to not being able to sleep for weeks, from overeating to starving myself, unexplained fatigue, body ache, self-loathing, nervous breakdowns, suicidal thoughts were all parts of this PHASE,’ she says.
Zaira acted in Microsoft Lumia and Tata Sky advertisements in 2015.
2016: The Dangal experience
Competing with a thousand girls, Zaira never thought she would ever get a chance to land a role in the film. But luck was on her side, as she bagged the role of wrestler Geeta Phogat and got the chance to share screen space with Aamir. She completed shooting in Mumbai in six months.
Zaira’s training included exhaustive morning sessions of running, swimming and wrestling. The training made her learn to overcome anxieties.
“Before ‘Dangal’, I had done two ads. I got a call from Mukesh Chabra (the film’s casting director) to attend an important workshop for a week. I went to Mumbai to attend the workshop. There were a lot of girls who had already done one or more ads or serials and I had to do some scenes in front of them; so, I was like ‘there is no space for me’,” she said.
Like other parents, Zaira too had to convince her parents to support her decision to act in the film, more so being from Kashmir.
“It was my school principal and my aunt who supported my decision. They both convinced my parents and handled the situation very well,” Zaira said.
As the word of her shooting for the film spread, some netizens began trolling and bullying her and also issued self-styled life threats.
“Some nasty comments about me were posted on social media. But Aamir Khan and the rest of the crew helped me. I am still getting comments from unknown persons, but I believe in positivity and have learned how to deal with such comments,” she said.
2017: Politics are thrust on Zaira
Some are born political, some opt for politics, and some, like Zaira Wasim, have politics thrust upon them
Zaira trolled for ‘meeting the culprits;’ apologises
Dangal star Zaira Wasim took to Facebook and Twitter to apologise for her recent actions, which include meeting Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti.
In a surprising move, Kashmiri Dangal girl Zaira Wasim took to Facebook and Twitter 'clarifying' and 'apologising' to people for her 'recent' actions. She met Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti a couple of days ago.
Zaira Wasim's entire letter goes as follows:
This is an open confession/apology. I know that many people have been offended and displeased by my recent actions or by the people I have recently met.
I want to apologise to all those people who I've unintentionally hurt and I want them to know that I understand their sentiments behind it especially considering that what had happened over the past 6 months but I hope people can also understand there are certain circumstances that emerge which one cannot control and I hope people still remember that I'm a just a 16 year old girl and I hope you treat me accordingly. I'm sorry for what I did but it was not a deliberate decision and I really hope people can forgive me.
There are few more things which are very important and I want to clear them as well. The first and foremost thing is that I am being projected as a role model for Kashmiri Youth. I want to make it very clear that I do not want anyone to follow in my foot steps or even consider me as a role model. I'm not proud of what I'm doing and I want everyone, especially the Youth to know that there are real role models out there whether they be in this time or in our history.
To even consider me as a role model would be disgracing them and their disgrace would be OUR DISGRACE! I do not wish to start an argument here, this was a just a mere confession from my end which I really wanted people to know. May Allah bless us and guide us.
Zaira later deleted the apology from her Twitter and Facebook. But this is what it was:
After deleting the posts from her social media timelines, Zaira posted a clarification too. However, the Dangal star deleted that post as well.
The [second] post read,
Regarding my last post, I have no idea why this has become such a big issue. I just wanted to make sure that I did not hurt anyone's feelings and all of a sudden it has been turned into national news. Again and again I am telling people that I have not been forced into anything by anyone. This was post was not meant against anyone, just wanted to make sure that people were not hurt by what I was doing. From media to everyone else, please don't blow this out of proportion. Neither was I forced nor am I against anyone. Hopefully this post just stops this once and for all. (sic)
It is clear from Zaira's apologies on social media that she has been receiving a lot of flak ever since that meeting. One comment on her wall reads, "Hmm i agree but y are you meeting the culprits rather then you should meet victms like insha ,she is younger then you sis hope you understand what i said :) may god show you right path and may god protect you ameen (sic)"
Two days later, Zaira urged people not to make ‘mountain out of a mole hill’ asking them to wait until she spoke.
On the hijab
Union minister for sports Vijay Goel and Dangal actor Zaira Wasim exchanged polite but edgy tweets on hijab on Friday .
The exchange started when Goel posted a picture from an art exhibition. It showed a painting of two women; one with a partially veiled face, another trapped in a cage. “This painting tells a story similar to @zairawasim, pinjra tod kar humari betiyan badhne lagi hain aage (Our daughters are breaking out of cages to forge ahead). More power to our daughters!“
After Goel's initial tweet, Wasim responded saying: “Sir, with all respect to you, I feel I must disagree. I request you not to connect me to such a discourteous depiction.“
Goel replied, “You have interpreted wrong. I appreciated your work and stated that evil and patriarchal notions must be discouraged.“
Over two tweets, Wasim wrote back: “Women in hijab are beautiful and free. Moreover, the story depicted through this painting is not even remotely relevant to mine.“
Goel courteously closed the conversation with: “I'm afraid you still haven't understood.But I wish you all the very best and appreciate your work.Hope to meet & interact too.“
At the centre of protests
Zaira Wasim was at the centre of protests in Nowhatta area of Srinagar [on Fri 21 Jan 2017].
A protest broke out near Jamia Masjid in Nowhatta area after the Friday prayers.
During the protest, a few youth were seen carrying placards with the pictures of the young actress and Insha Malik - a 14-year-old girl who lost vision in both of her eyes due to pellet injuries last year.
Some youth also burnt the pictures of the actress, who had recently taken to social media to apologise for her meeting with Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti which drew sharp reactions from some of the youth in the Valley.
One of the placards, which had pictures of her with the Chief Minister, carried a threat to kill the 16-year-old actress.
According to ANI, masked men took to the streets and burnt Wasim's posters. The posters read 'Justice With You, IS to kill you.'
Mother’s pro-Pak posts haunt Zaira
Zaira's mother, Zarqa Wasim had [on 21 March 2014] posted two updates supporting Pakistan in [the Asia Cup] cricket match against India. One of the two updates read, "Keep Calm and Defeat India" with "Dil Dil Pakistan" as a caption.
The other post read, "we don't sweat, we sparkle...#Nothing_is_impossible...#Bleed green!!!"
[Indpaedia adds: In the event India scored 131/3 (18.3 overs) and Pakistan 130/7 (20 overs). India won by 7 wickets.]
Because of her mother's posts on Facebook in 2014 Zaira Wasim got trolled on Twitter, the second time in a row, in the course of a month.
Although, Zarqa Wasim deleted her Facebook account after the posts spread like fire on Twitter, the mother-daughter duo received brickbats from trolls on social media.
Some of the Tweets are also directed against Aamir Khan for casting Zaira in the film.
(Some of the tweets on IndiaTimes.com were as follows)
ShankhNaad @ShankhNaad (tweeted)
FB post by Zarqa Wasim, mother of Aamir Khan's #Dangal girl #ZairaWasim. Why Aamir, Zaira & Zarqa hate India even though they feed on India? pic.twitter.com/fcNEnDbNGS
Anchit Pandey @anchitpandey (tweeted)
@ShankhNaad these anti national folks #ZairaWasim #zarqawasim @aamir_khan should be deported to their beloved Pakistan @ZeeNews
aakash pingle @aakashpingle (tweeted)
Bollywood has always extra space for anti indians 😡 #Zarqawasim
Nidin Jacob @ImNidin If you feel so much for Pakistan then why don't you go there.Keep calm and get lost from our nation #Traitor #ZarqaWasim #Shame
Jitendra Raghav @jitendra_raghav (tweeted)
@aamir_khan Finally U earned well wd Entertainment at cost of Defaming Nation's pride? #Dangal #Bollywood #ZairaWasim #ZarqaWasim #India
Sangeet Shenoy @SangeetShenoy (tweeted)
Thanq @aamir_khan 4 promtng such ppl who r disgrce 4 land"Dil Pakstan,Keep Calm&Defeat India.Bleed green #ZarqaWasim,Mother of @Zaira_Wasim
Falls into Lake with car; rescued
Zaira Wasim was miraculously rescued by locals here after her car fell into the Dal Lake in June 2017.
The car in which Zaira Wasim was travelling went out of the driver's control on the Boulevard here and fell into the Dal Lake. "Locals immediately rescued her and her companion. She escaped unhurt, but her companion sustained injuries in the accident," a local said.
Zaira's Secret Superstar, in which she plays the title role of a teenage YouTube singing sensation who has to hide her identity in a burqa because of her father's conservatism, was her only release during the year. Made on a reported budget of Rs.25 crore, it earned a fairly decent profit. In trade parlance this medium- to- low budget film was a Hit.
However, after the film was released in China, its profits propelled Secret Superstar to the ranks of one of the most profitable films in the history of India. (For details, see Box office records of Hindi-Urdu films.)
Harassment on a Vistara flight
39-year-old Vikas Sachdeva was arrested in connection with the molestation of a teen actor in an Vistara Airlines flight
The actor had taken to Instagram to allege that a middle-aged co-passenger on board the Vistara flight had harassed her sexually
A case has been registered against Sachdeva under the POCSO Act
39-year-old Vikas Sachdeva was arrested by the Sahar police on Sunday night in connection with the molestation of a teen actor in a Vistara Airlines Delhi-Mumbai flight.
Sachdeva is placed as a senior executive with an entertainment company in Mumbai. He has been charged under the IPC and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO) and will be produced before the Andheri magistrate court on Monday.
Earlier in the day, the actor had taken to Instagram to allege that a middle-aged [business class] co-passenger on board the Vistara flight had harassed her sexually.
In her Instagram live-video post, the National Award winning Kashmiri actor said, "I was in a flight travelling from Delhi to Mumbai today and right behind me one middle-aged man who made my 2-hour journey miserable. I tried to record it on phone to understand it better because the cabin lights were dimmed, I failed to get it. It was all chill till I felt somebody brushing against my back while I was half asleep. I ignored it the first time. Blamed the turbulence for it. Until I woke me up to this PLEASANT SIGHT of his Beautiful foot rubbing my back and neck. Guess he couldn't sit like a civilised human being and placed his foot on my armrest while he's fully PHELAOED his body on his seat."
After the video started to trend, the Mumbai Police initiated a probe. They recorded the actor's statement and subsequently lodged an FIR.
The actor had warned the accused not to touch her but he continued. The police therefore believe that it was a deliberate act, not accidental.
‘Flight crew didn’t act against molester’
She alleged that the Vistara crew did not take any action against the passenger, though she raised an alarm by screaming at him.
By noon, a team from the Sahar police station met the actor at the hotel where she was put up. “After two hours of convincing, she gave a statement, on the basis of which an FIR was registered against an unknown person under the IPC and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act,” a police officer said.
Aviation sources said Sachdeva, a corporate traveller, told crew upon boarding the flight that he wanted to sleep and shouldn’t be disturbed for meal. When the flight was descending to land, the actor screamed at the man. “From their jump seats the crew asked the actor what had happened. She continued screaming at the man in seat 2F,” said a source. After the plane landed around midnight, the crew inquired with her, but she deplaned, crying.
2020: The accused is sentenced to 3 years’ jail
A special court on Wednesday convicted Vikas Sachdeva (41) and sentenced Sachdeva to three years’ jail under Pocso and fined him Rs 25,000. A senior executive with an entertainment business firm earlier, Sachdeva was also held guilty of sexual harassment under IPC Section 354, for which the court sentenced him to a year in jail and fined him Rs 500. Both sentences are to run concurrently. On a plea by Sachdeva’s counsel H S Anand and Adnan Shaikh, special trial court judge A D Deo later suspended his sentence and granted him bail.
Testimony of girl in plane case appears reliable: Judge
Special trial court judge A D Deo found and held that the minor’s “testimony that the accused had made an inappropriate touch with his foot to her shoulder and neck is unscathed,” despite her cross-examination at length by the defence.
The Pocso Act makes any physical contact with sexual intent a sexual assault, the court said, and found enough evidence against the flyer to hold him guilty. The judge on a plea by Sachdeva’s advocates H S Anand and Adnan Shaikh, suspended his sentence and granted him bail.
Sachdeva was in custody for 11 days after his arrest on December 10, 2017 and has been on bail since. “The culpable intention of the accused is the crux of the matter and her reaction is very relevant,” the judge said, adding the “testimony of the victim appears to be cogent, reliable and worthy of credence”.
The judge discarded Sachdeva’s contention of false implication by observing the two have no previous enmity. The judge found that the independent witnesses — two crew members — corroborated each other’s evidence as well as that of the minor “shouting” at the accused following his “inappropriate conduct” and held their testimony to be of “vital importance”.
Quits films for religious reasons
In a detailed post on her Facebook page, the Kashmiri-born Dangal star Zaira Wasim said she realised "though I may fit here perfectly, I do not belong here".
Zaira Wasim will be next seen in Shonali Bose's The Sky Is Pink.
National Award-winning actor Zaira Wasim on Sunday announced her "disassociation" from the field of acting, saying she was not happy with the line of work as it interfered with her faith and religion.
In a detailed post on her Facebook page, which she later shared across all social media platforms, the Kashmiri-born Dangal fame star said she realised "though I may fit here perfectly, I do not belong here".
"Five years ago, I made a decision that changed my life forever. As I stepped my foot in 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. 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," Wasim said in the lengthy post.
The 18-year-old actor said as she completed five years in the profession, she wanted to "confess that I am not truly happy with this identity i.e my line of work".
"For a very long time now, it has felt like I have struggled to become someone else. As I had just started to explore and make sense of the things to which I dedicated my time, efforts and emotions and tried to grab hold of a new lifestyle, it was only for me to realise that though I may fit here perfectly, I do not belong here.
"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," she said.
Wasim said as she continued to "ignorantly pass through" while trying to convince herself that what she was doing was okay and was not really affecting her, "I lost all the 'Barakah' (blessing) from my life".
"I was constantly battling with my soul to reconcile my thoughts and instincts to fix a static picture of my 'imaan' 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 (God)," she said.
Talking about her life as an actor, she said she continued to observe things and twist her perceptions as she wanted them to be, without really understanding that the key was to see them as they were.
"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," she added.
Wasim said she began to heavily rely upon Allah's mercy for help and guidance instead of valuing her own believability.
"I discovered my lack of knowledge of the basic fundamentals of my religion and how my inability to reinforce a change earlier was a result of confusing my heart's contentment and well being with strengthening and satisfying my own (shallow and worldly) desires," she said.
The actress, who made her big Bollywood debut in Aamir Khan's 2016 film Dangal, said she questioned the deepest sources of her ideas of success, meaning and the purpose of her life.
"The source code that governed and impacted my perceptions evolved into a different dimension. Success isn't correlated with our biased, delusional and conventional shallow measures of life. Success is the accomplishment of the purpose of our creation. We have forgotten the purpose we were created for as we ignorantly continue to pass through our lives; deceiving our conscience," she said.
Wasim said the journey has been "exhausting, to battle my soul for so long" and life was too short yet too long to be at war with oneself.
About announcing the decision on social media, the actor said she was openly doing so not to paint a holier picture of herself, but "this is the least I can do to start afresh".
"This is just my first step as I have arrived at the clarity of realisation of the path I wish to be on and strive for and during this time I may have consciously or unconsciously planted a seed of temptation in the hearts of many, but my sincere advice to everyone is that no amount of success, fame, authority or wealth is worth trading or losing your peace or the light of your 'imaan' for," she said.
Wasim will be next seen in The Sky is Pink, which also stars Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Farhan Akhtar. The shooting of the film was completed in March and the cast and crew recently celebrated its wrap-up party in Mumbai where Zaira was also present.
Rumours soon began doing the rounds that the actress’ account was hacked, something she shot down immediately saying, “This to clarify that none of my social media accounts were or are hacked and are being handled by me personally. Kindly refrain from believing or sharing claims that state otherwise! Thanks.”'
The Sky Is Pink
The Sky Is Pink may just be Zaira Wasim’s last film outing. The young starlet essays one of the central characters in the film.
Directed by Shonali Bose, the film is based on the life of Aisha Chaudhary, who became a motivational speaker after being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, an immune deficiency order at the age of 13. It also highlights the love story of her parents, played by Priyanka and Farhan.
The teen star [was] not a part of promotions for ‘The Sky Is Pink’. Reports claim that Zaira requested the makers to excuse her from the promotional activities that would kick off by August-end, in time for the film’s October release.
The actress was a thorough professional during the film’s shoot.
Zaira hit the big time on her debut itself.
At the National Film Awards (India): 2017 she was adjudged the
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Dangal (Hindi) and awarded the Rajat Kamal and Rs50,000/- Citation: 'She portrays a female sports person’s battle with the society with utmost maturity.'
2018, Jan: Jio Filmfare Critics' Award for Best Actor (Female) to Zaira Wasim for 'Secret Superstar'
As an actor
2017 Secret Superstar
2019 The Sky Is Pink