Indian actress Zaira Wasim has quit Bollywood to focus on Islamic faith

'I do not belong here': she claims that life in the limelight has 'threatened' her relationship with religion

MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA-DECEMBER 20: Zaira Wasim at Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonass reception in Mumbai. (Photo by Milind Shelte/The India Today Group via Getty Images)
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Actress Zaira Wasim has announced her decision to quit Bollywood, saying acting was taking her away from her Islamic faith.

Wasim, 18, is best known for her role as a wrestler in the 2016 film Dangal. She announced her "disassociation" from acting on Sunday, June 30.

"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'," she said, referring to her faith.

"While I continued to work in an environment that consistently interfered with my 'imaan', my relationship with my religion was threatened," she said in simultaneous posts on her social media profiles.

On Instagram alone, her post has attracted some 214,000 likes and more than 27,000 comments. The announcement has been confimed by Wasim's manager.

"Her posts are genuine and written in the state of mind she is currently in. Let's give her time and space," said Tuhin Mishra, managing director of Baseline Ventures.

She has also taken to Twitter to confirm that this news is coming from her, and that her social media accounts were not hacked.

Wasim's last film was the 2017 drama Secret Superstar, in which she played a Muslim teenager who sings surreptitiously because her father would not allow it.

She won several awards for the film.

Her decision to go public with her reasons for leaving Bollywood have attracted both criticism and admiration from members of the public.

Twitter user Ifra Jan said Wasim's decision may make it harder for other Muslim women to pursue an acting career.

"Please don't leave spitting at an industry, audience that gave you so much," Jan said. "PS, you could have left quietly. With this letter you've made it difficult for every Muslim woman to choose an unconventional career."

Public figures in Wasim's native Jammu and Kashmir, the country's only Muslim-majority state, came to her defence.

"Who are any of us to question [Wasim's] choices?," former chief minister Omar Abdullah said in a tweet. "It's her life to do with as she pleases. All I will do is wish her well and hope that what ever she does makes her happy," he said.