Few days back the Dangal girl and winner of the nationalfilm award for best supporting actress and national child award for exceptionalachievement, Zaira Waseem decided to bid adieu to what many referred to as apromising career in the Indian film industry citing that the line of workinterfered with her faith and threatened her relation with Allah. Prominentpeople across ideological spectrum Bollywood celebrities right-wing trolls,feminists, liberals and Islamophobes maywell judge the decision and impute reasons to it but the exit has reignitedwhat is essentially a debate between materialism and spiritualism.
Zaira unambiguously attributed the loss of Iman and barakahto the decision of stepping out of the world of darkness to find true peaceinside her. A fatiguing fight with her soul and procrastination to chosebetween the two worlds made her suffer depression for years. She touched questions on the idea of success,sources of happiness, peace and contentment and purpose of life and existence,questions which are at the core of debate between materialism and spiritualismand the nature of answers one finds to them largely determine nature of one'sexistential purposes and orientations. According to Zaira achievement of materialstandards aren't correlated with real success but merely delusions thatdeceive our conscience into unrealcontentment. Transcendence over material interpretations, renunciation ofworldly desires and association of peace and happiness with accomplishment ofpurpose of existence are fundamental to spiritual pursuit. Dominant part of ourlife's struggle is driven by material pursuits and temptations for wealth,glamour and power which are external to us. All of us strive for peace andhappiness but great majority of us take both long and wrong trajectory to thedestination even though spiritual flight is both surest and shortest means todestination because happiness invariably lies within us. We all live life ofdelusions. We attempt to delude our conscienceinto believing the of the way we live our lives, twisting perceptions to reconcilable themwith our lust. Any resistance by conscience is suppressed or procrastinatedtill we approach a stage where no options other than regret is left. Recountingher five years of industry life as a psychological struggle between what shecalls "real" and "delusional self", a volt- face at thecusp of superstardom is a symbolic of the victory of her spiritual resistanceover material tyranny. Of course she found herself in the cross hairs sincebeginning of her Bollywood career and faced enormous criticism fromconservative sections within her own community, Bollywood life too is neitherreputable nor a source of women empowerment. The industry is marred by violenceagainst women, substance abuse, gender bias, a business which thrives on the objectification of women. Women inBollywood are fiercely coerced into perfect bodily ideals to stay relevant inindustry. Actresses Tanushree dutta and Deepika Padukone have publically talkedabout this aspect of Industry life. A series of her social media posts by Zairasuch as one mentioning depression on account of failure to choose between twoworlds, other post enumerating two heart diseases as doubt and lust amplyreveal a gradual spiritual transformation and not knee jerk reaction from abullied moron. Although Zaira has apologised for any seed of temptation shethinks she might have sown in the hearts of people, she instead deserves ourapproval for the igniting the spark of spiritual resurgence.
(The author is a school teacher by profession)