When countless youngsters aspire to become big in the entertainment industry, here is one Bollywood star who has forsaken her career and opportunities to reach greater heights in order to tread a path less travelled. Actress Sana Khan quitting filmdom for a spiritual cause created tremors in showbiz and her marriage to Islamic scholar Mufti Anas Sayied is now the talk of the town
Millions of Bollywood fans around the globe were dismayed on October 8 when they checked their social media handles. The news hit them like a bombshell – award-winning Bollywood star Sana Khan has quit the entertainment industry. Many could not believe that the actress of ‘Jai Ho’ fame with a host of television shows to her credit was bidding adieu to the stardust-strewn highway in search of a much loftier pursuit. What left movie buffs and fans flummoxed was Sana citing religious reasons for her exit from the world of glamour and fame.
Doubting Thomases soon scrambled to her Instagram page to cross-check if it was true, and little wonder there were more than 100,000 hits in a matter of hours. They knew what they heard was true as the former actress by then had removed all glamorous pictures from her page and uploaded new photographs in which she is seen in more conservative attire with a headscarf. She also explained in detail the reason for her decision to bid goodbye to stardom. Sana penned that she came to realise that she should not make “wealth and fame” her sole targets in life. Instead, serving mankind and following “the order of the Creator” would be her mandate, she said in her post.
“Isn’t it a part of his/her duty to spend his/her life in the service of those who are needy and helpless? Shouldn’t a person think that he/she could die at any moment? And what will happen to him after he/she is no more? I have been searching for answers to these two questions for a long period of time, especially the second question as to what will happen to me after my death?” the former Big Boss contestant said in her post. Sana said she actually took time to contemplate those questions and came to understand that “this life in the world is actually for the betterment of life-after-death” and that “it would be better if the slave lives according to the command of his Creator” instead of chasing money and popularity.
Explaining her reason for her inner transformation, Sana went on to take a resolution saying, “Therefore, I declare today that from today onwards, I have resolved to say goodbye to my showbiz lifestyle forever and serve humanity and follow the order of my Creator. All brothers and sisters are requested to pray for me to Allah to accept my repentance and grant me the true ability to live in accordance with my determination of spending my life following the commandments of my Creator and in the service of humanity, and grant me perseverance in it.” She signed off requesting her followers and fans not to question her any longer about the industry.
Bold foray into the path less trodden
Although many people around the world from various walks of life do get a calling and renounce everything to step into another path which is loftier and less-travelled, they are neither publicised nor do people give them a second thought. But when it comes to a celebrity, especially one who enjoys fame, money, oodles of glamour and glitz in the entertainment industry, people get a shock and take notice when they ditch all those mundane trappings and embark on a journey of a spiritual nature.
For Sana, the attribute of ‘bold and beautiful’ takes an altogether different meaning now as she has earned a place for herself among that rare tribe of celebrities who have taken a thoughtful and firm decision to forego all glamour and the allure of the camera to introspect and pay heed to the commandments of the Almighty. It requires immense moral courage and conviction to take the mighty leap braving odds and begin a spiritual journey towards enlightenment and sublime bliss and be of service to mankind in the process. Sana’s bold decision evokes memories of yet another celebrity who traded glamour and fame for the mantle of spiritual happiness. Former Miss India finalist and Bollywood star Barkha Madan shocked everyone with her choice to renounce everything and become a Buddhist nun in 2012. She left behind everything to assume the avatar of Ven. Gyalten Samten, owning just two ochre robes and some woollens, to lead a life of austerity and seek the divine.
Dropping another bombshell
If Sana’s decision to quit the industry came as a major tremor, its aftershocks were even more powerful. Almost a month after her exit from the world of glamour, she took to social media to announce that she had found her Mr Right, Surat-based Islamic scholar and businessman Anas Sayied. Her picture and videos taken on Friday, November 20, the day of her quiet wedding, took the internet by storm. An Instagram picture clicked by celebrated showbiz shutterbug Viral Bhayani went viral. It showed her walking down a flight of stairs holding her husband’s hand clad in a resplendent white gown and headscarf with a tiara while her husband sported a crisp white sherwani. It was viewed by more than 3.5 lakh people in a matter of two hours. There was also a picture of her cutting a chocolate wedding cake having the words Nikaah Mubarak on it, alongside her husband in the presence of his family members.
That was not all. In a couple of days, she revealed on Instagram she had tied the knot with Sayied and posted a picture of them both. She was seen wearing the red attire of the ‘walima’ ceremony, which is a traditional element of an Islamic wedding that follows the nikah, while her husband too was in white. Along with her wedding picture, Sana also wrote on her handle, “Loved each other for the sake of Allah. Married each other for the sake of Allah. May Allah keep us united in this Duniya. And reunite us in Jannah. Which of the favours of your lord will you deny.”
On Tuesday, she posted pics of her ‘walima’ on her Instagram handle. She was seen dressed in a red bridal trousseau comprising a hand-embroidered lehenga suit of Poonams Kaurture coupled with gold jewellery from The House of Rambhajos. She looked all the more ethereal in smoky eyes and nude lip gloss as far as makeup was concerned.
Bouquets and brickbats
As usual, there was mixed response from fans and Bollywood buffs when news of her hush-hush wedding trickled out. While there were unpleasant comments on social media about her choice of life partner, many others lost no opportunity in showering the new couple with accolades and blessings with some praising her for her bold decision to follow her faith rather than showbiz.
Entertainment portal Filmibeat.com quoted the former star’s interview with Times of India in which she expressed indignation over the hate comments of people on her Instagram handle. “People trolled me and wrote nasty comments on my Insta handle. That is so distasteful. They did that because I decided to quit the industry and lead my life in a certain way. Well, how does my marriage concern anyone? I did not get married for these trolls. My husband is a good man and I find him good-looking, maybe you don’t. I don’t care,” the website quoted her as saying in the interview.
When her husband Sayied was asked by the news portal about his better half’s choice to leave Bollywood and the limelight, he said he never pressured her to lead life in a certain manner. “She announced on Instagram that she has taken the hijab. People thought that it was because of the pandemic and no work. But she always wanted to detach herself from what she was doing. I wanted her to give it some time, but she was certain. I was shocked too when she announced she was quitting the industry,” he said.
Not an overnight choice
According to the 33-year-old, the decision to get hitched with Sayied did not happen overnight. In fact, she has revealed to the media she had been praying for years to have a man like him in her life. Bollywoodlife.com quoted E Times in which the former dancer-model shed light on her first meeting with her future husband. The duo first met in Mecca in 2017, which was a brief one. She was returning to India and Sayied was introduced to the then actress as an Islamic scholar. The following year, she contacted him to find answers to a few questions of a religious nature. It was earlier this year that the duo reconnected. “I was always inclined towards learning more about Islam,” the report quoted her as saying.
Still in love with social media
Despite her shift in focus and exit from the industry, Sana is very much active on social media and keeps her followers updated with pictures and inspirational messages. After her wedding, she uploaded her photo of the mehendi ceremony on Instagram with the caption “If my love wasn’t strong, then the mehendi colour wouldn’t be so dark.” An equally popular photo among followers was the one clicked during her outing with her better half post-marriage. It showed her in a car in a white outfit, with the face covered, while Sayied sported a black blazer.
Pampered as the new member of Sayied’s family, Sana took to her Instagram stories to share with her followers a photograph of her mother-in-law preparing biryani for her in a pot. She captioned it, “Sasu ma making biryani for me,” along with an emoji depicting a heart.
Sana ensures that her followers are kept in the loop through her continuous updates on Instagram stories. She shared selfies and videos with her husband during their honeymoon in Kashmir. One such selfie was clicked just before they boarded the flight. In one of the videos, one can see them chatting about the cold weather. She also posted a video when she underwent a coronavirus screening after reaching Kashmir in which she was seen in a black hijab and grey trench coat. Sayied also posted a picture of the duo on social media from Pahalgam with the snowclad mountains in the backdrop. “What a creation by the Creator,” he wrote, to which his wife retorted, “You being one of it.”
Journey into showbiz
Sana was born in Mumbai, the city of dreams, to a Malayali father hailing from Kannur and a Mumbaikar mother. She started her career in the modelling industry and made her presence felt in 50 ad films. A gifted dancer, the former actress has appeared in more than 14 movies spanning five languages. She was noticed in Bollywood movies such as ‘Wajah Tum Ho’, ‘Jai Ho’ starring Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar-starrer ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’ as well as a host of other regional movies.
Sana earned accolades for her portrayal of a tomboyish village belle in the 2008 Tamil flick ‘Silambattam’ in which popular actor Silambarasan was the hero. Her stellar performance in the movie, which can be considered her big break, fetched her the ITFA Best New Actress Award in Singapore. Two years later, she appeared in another Tamil movie ‘Thambikku Indha Ooru’ after which she forayed into Telugu movie industry and made her debut appearance in ‘Kalyanram Kathi’. The following year, she acted in twin movies ‘Gaganam/Payanam’ shot in Telugu and Tamil, respectively and it was based on a hijack.
Sana has also made an appearance in Mollywood in the movie ‘Climax’ which is loosely based on the Hindi biopic of south Indian celluloid siren Silk Smitha, ‘Dirty Picture’.
Sana is equally popular among television viewers given the fact she has appeared in a host of hugely popular reality shows such as ‘Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa 7’, ‘Comedy Nights Bachao’, ‘Entertainment Ki Raat’ and ‘Kitchen Champion’. In the sixth season of Big Boss, she was a contestant and emerged the third finalist and second-runner up. In the following season, she appeared for a dance performance during the Grand Premiere and also made guest appearances in seasons 9, 10, 12 and 13 of the reality show.