Zerifa Wahid is an Indian film actress and producer who is known for predominantly working in the Assamese film industry (Jollywood). She is known for playing the role of Ranjana Bora in the movie ‘Baandhon’ directed by Jahnu Baruah, which was released in 2012 and won the award for Best Feature Film in Assamese at the 60th National Film Awards. In 2012, it also won the award at the Indian Films Competition held at Bengaluru International Film Festival for best film.
Zerifa Wahid was born on 18 August 1979 (age 43 years; as of 1979) in Lakhimpur, Assam, India. She started working in the film industry at a very young age. She went to Nichols High School in Guwahati, Assam. She began her acting career as a child in 1990 by debuting in the Assamese film ‘Abhimaan’. Zerifa was a studious student and was great in academics.
Without having any film background or any idea about the film industry culture, she did not drop her acting career, in fact, she handled both things simultaneously. She went to Cotton College in Guwahati for studying BA Hons in History and then she went to Delhi to pursue her post-graduation in History from University of Delhi. She followed her passion and went on to work in many Assamese Feature Films, TV commercials, music albums and video films.
Height (approx.): 5′ 4″
Weight (approx.): 55 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Dark brown
Zerifa belongs to an Assamese Muslim family. Her father’s name is Wahid Ullah and her mother’s name is Inoo Hazarika.
Parents & Siblings
She has one elder sister whose name is Joya (Jenifa Wahid).
In one of her Instagram posts, Zerifa Wahid termed a person as her soulmate.
After debuting, she kept going to school and at the same time, she was managing to work in movies like ‘Agnigarh’, ‘Atikram’, ‘Dhua’ etc. She became known for playing modern roles with a progressive approach when she played the character of the lead role in the film ‘Tumi Mor Mathu Mor’ which was directed by Zubeen Garg. In ‘Antaheen Jatra’, she had to portray the character of a rural girl. A few of her popular movies are ‘Anya Ek Jatra,’ ‘Gun Gun Gane Gane,’ ‘Seuji Dharani Dhuniya,’ ‘Ahir Bhairav’ and many more. ‘Ahir Bhairav’ is the first Assamese feature film which was completely shot in London and in this film Zerifa had to play the character of a schizophrenic.
In 2012, at the International Film Festival of India held in Goa, the film ‘Baandhon’ was the inaugural film in the Indian Panorama Section. In 2016, her feature film, ‘Kothanodi: The River of Fables’ which was directed by Bhaskar Hazarika premiered at the Busan International Film Festival 2015. The film was screened in many prominent film festivals including BFI London Film Festival, MAMI Mumbai International Film Festival, Gothenburg Film Festival and many more. At the 63rd National Film Award 2016, it won the Rajat Kamal for Best Film in the Assamese language.
Zerifa has also made her contribution as a social worker. She is involved in the endorsement of the IT brand named DATAMATION. She is also the ambassador for the Assam Autism Foundation and Special Olympics Bharat (Assam Chapter).
Zerifa has always been a brilliant student and was great in her academics. She wanted to study more, so while working as an actress, she decided to pursue a bachelor’s in law at J B Law College. She practices law in the Guwahati High Court as an advocate. she was offered to Join TeachAID which uses extensive and innovative techniques to teach children.
Zerifa Wahid is not only a successful actor but also a producer in Theatre and at Film Fraternity Assam. Because of her hard work and diligent attitude, she became the first Assamese actress to have her own production house named “Zerifa Wahid Productions.” She is very closely bonded with theatre that she calls herself a “Theatre Worker” and was a part of the theatre movement in Assam when she performed powerfully in multiple stage plays. She has produced as well as acted in many popular plays such as ‘The Fire And The Rain’ by Girish Karnad, ‘Five Finger Exercise’ by Peter Shaffer who was a British Playwright and more. In 2012, Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards chose Girish Karnad’s ‘Nagamandala’ for ten nominations. Many famous plays were staged under her production house, one of them was Padmashree Arun Sarma’s play ‘Purush’ and another play was ‘NAPOLEON’ which was staged at Rabindra Bhawan, Guwahati. ‘NAPOLEON’ got so popular among the audience and media that it was staged several times later on.
To take the production value to the next level, Zerifa proposed to celebrate the festival of plays named ‘JUST THEATRE’ in the months of October and November 2014 in Guwahati. Three plays were staged at that festival which was ‘Nagamandala,’ ‘Napoleon,’ and ‘Love Letters’ by A. R. Gurney. In 2016, Girish Karnad’s play ‘Wedding Album’ was hugely appreciated by the viewers and it had to be showcased multiple times.
Criticizing OTT Platforms
According to Zerifa, she had to launch her open her own production house to enhance Assamese Cinema and produce good quality work. Despite contributing majorly to the Indian Cinema, she feels that OTT platforms are not welcoming to Assamese or Northeast actors and directors and are not given much spotlight in the mainstream industry. In an interview, she stated that,
In the international film festival circuit, Assamese films are quite well known now due to the works of Sanjay Hazarika, the late Bidyut Chakraborty and Jahnu Barua, who bring film awards to India every year. The director Rajat Kamal brings many awards. Jahnu Barua has received nineteen National Film Awards! But when it comes to the commercial aspect, we are not being welcomed by OTT platforms. Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and Zee5 all have a large catalogue of many Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati and Punjabi films. But not Assamese films. There have been new Assamese films since 2011 — almost 30 to 40 — which are such good films that have done well nationally and internationally.” She added,
“But the attitude of people themselves is not welcoming. We, the Assamese and Northeast people, are shy and don’t know how to approach the market or sell products. There is an absence of marketing skills.” She continued,
“We don’t expose ourselves or put ourselves out there. Many filmmakers are happy with their films being selected in some film festivals but they are not interested in earning the money back. So the problem lies with us personally.”
- In 2003, she won the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role Female for ‘Agnisakshi’ in The State Film Award, Government of India.
- In 2014, She won the award for Best Actress for ‘Dwaar’ at the first Filmfare Awards East.
- She likes to sing and dance.
- Zerifa is an animal lover and keeps posting pictures with puppies on social media.
- Zerifa’s zodiac sign is Leo.
- She has a fit personality and likes to stay healthy. So, she does Yoga and exercises regularly.
- Zerifa used to be a member of Raijor Dal but in 2021, she left Raijor Dal and joined AJP (Assam Jatiya Parishad). On account of her changing the party, in an interview, she said,
I may sound like a fool, like a young politician, but we lack genuine political figures. Hopefully, I can fill that role and do something good for our community.”
- Zerifa has 46k followers on Instagram, where she keeps her fans updated about her daily life and regularly posts motivational quotes and thoughts to share positivity with people.
- Zerifa Wahid is the brand ambassador for the hospital’s eye donating campaign and has pledged that she will donate eyes to the Sri Sankaradeva Nethralaya.