Hi, it’s me. Zoya. Who we kiddin’ you already know me! I’m your most beloved muse as of late.
And by ‘of late’ I mean since Emraan Hashmi starred in Jannat – the first one – back in 2008.
It was a surreal experience, finally watching the film in 2013, sitting there marking my Year 11’s books and having a mini heart attack each time Emraan uttered ‘Zoya’. It was like he was speaking directly to me! Weird, I know.
Around the same time Katrina Kaif played an ISI agent called Zoya and kicked ass in Ek Tha Tiger. Katrina repping your name. Now, what idiot in her right mind is going to complain about that, eh? As it turns out, that’d be me.
It didn’t stop there. Earlier this month when a colleague jokingly suggested we go watch The Zoya Factor for the next work-social, I decided enough is enough.
May I ask at what point you, collectively, as an industry decided that choosing a name for the lead heroine was just too much effort? What with all the other issues – the #metoo movement, the drive for more female-centric films, and equal pay – did you wake up one day and think: Sod this, ain’t nobody got time to think of the lead heroine’s name. What worked for us the first time? Zoya?
For Sonam Kapoor that is literally the case, she’s playing Zoya again!
Now, considering the limited number of movies the airhead is offered, and that two people in my adult life have thought I resemble her, I’m seriously worried about my reputation. To be associated with a vapid child of nepotism whose only vocabulary seems to be “Y’know what I mean,” as she broadcasts her brainless opinions about everything, is downright embarassing.
This is a person who, when asked about the Kashmir conflict, managed to make it all about herself!
Shahrukh and Salman rinsed the names Rahul and Prem for about three decades of cinema. I BEG YOU find a new name for Sonam before we all start associating her with Zoya!
A few suggestions, if you will:
1. If Simran worked for Kajol in DDLJ and Pooja for Kareena in KKKG, then there are a plethora of desi names to choose from such as Kiran, Divya, Poonam, or I-don’t-know-because-I’m-not-Indian-why-not-use-the-real-women-around-you-as-inspiration?
2. Random selection. Google and print 100 girls’ names, cut, fold, throw into a bag or box. Pick one. That alone requires 99% more effort than your current system.
3. You know how you remix old 90s songs and re-release them, pretending they’re completely new? Do that, but with names.
4. Why do you need a name anyway? Think about it: the 22 y/o heroine is just a decoration piece as the 55 y/o male lead saves the day once again.
5. If you reaaaaally need to use the name Zoya, give 25% of all box office profit to Zoyas across the world. How bout dah? I personally know about 3 and speaking on their behalf, we welcome this yearly monetary tribute.
Could it be that I’ve missed the whole point? Maybe Zoya is the most popular name in India and you’re striving to accurately represent us? Apart from Zoya Akhtar, how many real Zoyas are there in the industry anyway? I’ll wait.
On a serious note, Zoya is a Persian name and predominantly used by Muslim families. I’m sure you’re familiar with the religion seeing as you take every opportunity to bash it in your movies. From Phantom to Padmaavat, your stereotyping of Muslims as topi/surma wearing villains and terrorists is as boring and predictable as…let’s see, having a character named Zoya! Ha! Who would have thunked it?
And I get it. It’s a beautiful name and we Zoyas are pretty magical creatures- hence your fascination with us. But you’re killing it, and I don’t mean that in the YAS! SLAAAY! way. You are actually butchering my name. If I hear it pronounced JOYA one more time by an Uber driver, I’m going to machete his car and send the invoice to Yash Raj Chopra, or whoever.
Please don’t take this personally. The Pakistani film industry is no better.
Courtesy of Hamza Ali Abbasi in Yeh Jawaani Phir Nahi Aani, I had to live with the “Meri biwi Kubra nahi, cobra hai” joke for about 6 months of my life. And yes there was a Zoya in that movie too! Just like you feel the need to plagizarise Pakistani music, they too imitate your successes. Apparently naming a character Zoya is the magic formula to creating a blockbuster.
Thanks to both of you, I will soon be known as ‘Joya Cobra’.
Pack it in.
I mean it. This is a message from a woman at the end of her patience.
The Real Zoya.
P.S. One final tip. You’re an industry that plagizarised its own name from Hollywood by replacing the first letter with ‘B’. Do that again. I’d be happy with Sonam playing Boya. It suits her, y’know what I mean?