The Disheartening Case of 16 Year Old Dangal Star Zaira Wasim
It’s disheartening that while 16 year old Zaira Wasim (who plays the younger Geeta Phogat in Dangal) should be sitting back and enjoying the stardom and critical acclaim, she has to pen apology letter after apology letter.
Zaira recently visited her hometown Srinagar, where she met the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. The conversation revolved around women empowerment, Zaira shared her own thoughts on women safety in the state, education for girl child. Sounds like a very decent conversation, even enlightening, if we may dare say.
But it offended people, given the situation in Kashmir — and soon the 16 year old published an apology post on her verified Facebook account, which further created uproar, and was later deleted.
Why did Zaira have to apologise for a simple meeting? She’s barely an adult, and to harass her with what looks like political pressure seems absolutely unnecessary and quite frankly just plain juvenile. Post her meeting, another photo of hers along with a meme went online which looks like what triggered Zaira’s apology.
The last two years has seen India debating about the issue of intolerance and disharmony amongst people, where many have been shamed for calling the nation intolerant. Nationalists have gone out of their way to demean celebrities, and all those who openly voiced their opinion, accusing them of being traitors and anti-nationalists.
How is a sixteen year old girl’s personal visit to her hometown a trigger to social media abuse? How is a child’s action significant to your beliefs and faith? Is your faith really that dwindling that you need another person to apologise for her actions that had absolutely no implication or relevance?
Seriously, what nonsense! Is this what makes news today? The meme is especially disheartening to see. Why is she made feel guilty for what’s happening in Kashmir? “Ameer ki beti” it says. Such an insensitive statement to make, not towards Zaira or towards anyone who is fortunate enough to live a luxury life because of their economic status, but towards those victims in Kashmir who are facing injustice and violence! Their tribulations, their anger is not towards Zaira who works hard for herself and has been successful in her endeavours, their anger and fight is against injustice, tyranny, despotism and mistrust.
In her apology she also mentions how she should not be seen as a role model for Kashmiri youth, which I believe is completely wrong. Of course she’s a role model, of course Geeta Phogat is a role model, to all those young women who have dreams and want to work towards it, please do keep Zaira and Geeta as your role models! Zaira has done a tremendous job in portraying Geeta in the film Dangal. Why should she not be appreciated for her role?
Of course she’s a role model, of course Geeta Phogat is a role model, to all those young women who have dreams and want to work towards it, please do keep Zaira and Geeta as your role models!
In the recent Golden Globes Awards show we saw Meryl Streep sweep the floor with her emotional speech that targeted the misdoings, and crass comments of the US President elect and called out all the things wrong with it, we in India could learn a thing or two about the same.
I’m not saying make noise when it’s not needed, but fearing judgement, trolling (which can apparently happen to anything and anyone) cannot stop one from supporting a person, idea or a movement. People who are supporting and sympathising with Zaira, kudos to you all. We do need more people who can put a stop to this incessant and uncalled for social abuse. And I say this with no apology whatsoever.
Views expressed are personal.
Feature Image Credit: The Indian Express