While on the one side we see the rise of women sports persons and artists breaking stereotypes and emerging successful in their respective fields despite all odds, on the other hand, we see misogyny and radicalism stifling their success. And if this is not enough, then it is given a dirty political angle.
Same was the case when Zaira Wasim of Dangal fame who played the role of wrestler Geeta Kumari Phogat, apologised for meeting Kashmir’s Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, in a Facebook post which she later deleted. Even as we are trying to empower women, people still dictate the personal choices one has to make. It is a very shameful that even a 16-year-old was not spared this horror.
Many on Twitter and Facebook have deduced from her two recent posts that Wasim has, perhaps, trolled for acting, which is considered un-Islamic by many. Others, however, believe that she was trolled online only for meeting the Chief Minister. The latter sounds a bigger possibility. Wasim who hails from Jammu and Kashmir struck a wrong chord with the separatists who see Mufti as a torchbearer of betrayal because of her BJP alliance. Mufti also remains disliked by the ultra-nationalists because of her attitude of not taking sides during the death of Burhan Wani. While she had condemned the harsh actions of the paramilitary, she never declared Wani a hero either. So when Mufti held Zaira Wasim as a role model for the J&K youth on Twitter, it was just what the trouble makers needed. Whatever be the case, no community can make a 16-year-old a torchbearer for their ideologies and dictate who she can or cannot meet. She cannot be held accountable for her personal choices and certainly not be trolled and bullied for the same.
Commenting on the same, Geeta Phogat said, “Zaira need not worry or apologise for anything because the kind of work she has done is commendable”. Adding her support, she further went on to say, “We have also come from a small town battling all difficulties and situations and have reached here, so she too should ignore such things and move ahead”. Phogat said that something must have hurt Wasim’s feelings that she felt the need to apologise on social media, but she should not be scared. She played the character of a fearless wrestler in the movie, and she should face this fearlessly as well.
— ANI (@ANI_news) January 17, 2017
Voicing the same views as her sister, Babita Kumari Phogat said, “Zaira you needn’t be scared as the entire nation and we are on your side. Everyone has the freedom to dress, eat, live, drink as they like, so why don’t we girls get to have the same freedom of choice? If anything needs to change it is the mindset of people who think like this”.
— ANI (@ANI_news) January 17, 2017
Actor Aamir Khan’s official Facebook page saw this post in Zaira’s favour “I have read Zaira’s statement, and I can understand and imagine what led her to make that statement. Zaira, I want you to know that we are all with you. The beauty is that bright, young, talented, hardworking, respectful, caring and courageous kids like you are a role model for kids not only in India but across the world. You certainly are a role model for me! May God bless you. Love. Aamir.
— Aamir Khan (@aamir_khan) January 17, 2017
P.S.: I appeal to everyone to now leave her alone and respect the fact that she is just a 16 yr old girl trying her best to deal with life.”
While Actors like Javed Akhtar, Anupam Kher, Swara Bhaskar took to Twitter to support her, sportsmen like Gautam Gambhir and Mohammed Kaif too expressed their sentiments in her favour along with politician Omar Abdulla, the opposition leader in Jammu & Kashmir.
Even with all the support, one cannot deny the mental trauma that the adolescent must have gone through. The incident only ascertains that celebrities and public figures are always accountable for their actions and have to weigh their every move, even if you are just 16!
We hope the Zaira will only emerge stronger from this incident as she gears up for Aamir Khan’s next production where she plays a burqa-clad rockstar. Being ‘Dhakad’ is the only way she can sustain in this pressure.