urfi javed
Photos courtesy Uorfi

She’s One of Asia’s Most Googled Celebs and India’s Moral Brigade Can’t Get Enough of Her

The enfant terrible of Indian television, Uorfi, tells us why she takes no prisoners.

“I’m not rebelling against anything,” clarified Uorfi Javed, the 25-year-old Mumbai-based actor, barely minutes into our Zoom video call. “I’m just saying I will put out my body in whatever the fuck way I like. How’s that a rebellion?” 

One look at Uorfi’s Instagram page, with over four million followers, and you know here’s someone who is aware of her agency in a way few are. Uorfi is not ashamed to ask for more — more attention, more love from her fans (who both hate and love her to death), more views, and more likes. 


Her honesty is refreshing and not what one might expect from a television actor. She’s played supporting roles in television shows such as Bepannah, Daayan, and Meri Durga. However, she only shot to fame in India after participating in the reality show Bigg Boss OTT in 2021 where, despite getting eliminated within a week, she made headlines for her “bold” sartorial choices. Recently, she became one of Asia’s most googled celebrities for the third time, leaving behind Bollywood biggies such as Sara Ali Khan, Janhvi Kapoor, and more. 

She calls out politicians who shame her and even controversial spiritual leaders like Sadhguru who said that campaigns in support of the queer community must be stopped. Through her Instagram stories, Uorfi said that we need parades and campaigns to tell everyone that it is okay to love and be yourself and that one’s sexuality must be spoken about freely and openly. 

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When I got Uorfi’s contact from a friend, I asked if the actor was approachable. My friend quipped: “Doesn’t she like the attention?” 

Indeed she does. 

She replied to my WhatsApp text in less than a minute – a refreshingly accessible gesture from a social media star. 

“I look so eww right now,” is the first thing Uorfi said during our 5PM Zoom call — she now prefers to be known now by only her first name — adjusting her outsized shades. “I was going to wake up two hours before this interview and do my makeup and hair for you, but I literally woke up now.” 

Because of her last name, she was rumoured to be the granddaughter of popular lyricist and screenwriter Javed Akhtar. The rumour gathered so much momentum that Akhtar was badly trolled on social media, encouraging actor Shabana Azmi, Akhtar’s wife, to take to Twitter last year to clarify that Uorfi isn’t a member of their family. 

Uorfi has responded to the rumours in her own way, but couldn’t resist the urge to joke in an Instagram story that she’d finally met her “grandfather,” when she recently bumped into him. Later, she went on to share that she joked to him about his now needing to divide his property among three, not two, of his grandchildren.


Uorfi is not your conventional heroine. She rocks sheer, dyed T-shirts with only crystals covering her breasts, poses with just a plate of freshly cut fruit and a glass of juice covering her body, and wraps herself in bicycle chains, posted on her Instagram page. “I design all those [looks] myself and I try to be creative with them. All these clothes tread on such fine lines that it takes one small mistake for the wardrobe to malfunction and disaster to follow.”

Born and raised in the Indian city of Lucknow, Uorfi grew up in a conservative Muslim family. “My father didn’t understand the meaning of mental health and [the idea of] women’s agency,” she said.

Uorfi studied till the 12th grade. She’s vocal about the fact that she’s neither a graduate nor does she plan on being one. When she was 16, she moved to Delhi, where she worked in a call centre. But the dream – to become an actor, to grab the maximum eyeballs, to force the world to sit the fuck up and take notice of the juggernaut she is – was always bubbling underneath. A year later, when she moved to Mumbai, she began auditioning for TV roles and bagged a few supporting roles in daily soaps. 

Author Chetan Bhagat recently opined at a literature festival that she was a distraction for young men who looked at her photos “hiding in their blankets.” 


Not one to take slut-shaming, particularly from the one-time best-selling author, who was one of two (businessman Suhel Seth was the other) accused of sexual harassment by author Ira Trivedi in 2018, lightly, Uorfi’s response was quick and cutting: “His #MeToo WhatsApp texts had not distracted anyone, certainly not his marriage (because they didn’t divorce).”

“Many people might not know this but I read and Chetan Bhagat’s books lack any intellect,” she told VICE. “His stories are written like semi-porn only, so I’d never take him seriously. Whatever I’m doing, I’m doing with my body, without harming anyone or even myself. You can keep your morals to yourself because morals don’t pay the bills.”

Uorfi is clear: She’s here to stay. She wants the attention. And she wants to be anything but basic. The paparazzi can’t get enough of her and she gives them what they want – posing in quirky clothes with cutouts, giving them snappy bytes outside the airport, and calling out the next celebrity who might have given a prudish statement about her clothes. When jewellery designer Farah Khan Ali labelled Uorfi’s clothes as “distasteful” after Uorfi was denied entry from an event, she hit back saying her comments were “depressing and embarrassing” and that such statements are hypocritical  coming from Farah Khan Ali, whose family members in Bollywood had often portrayed women in “tiniieee tiny clothes in item numbers.” 


A few weeks later, Uorfi was spotted wearing a rather telling crop top that said Not a Nepo Baby. In the wake of people increasingly calling out Bollywood for its nepotism bias, her bold statement was refreshing. 

“Lady Gaga is a bold person, so she dresses that way. Similarly, I’m bold and I want to express that through my clothes. The definition of fashion changes all the time.”

Recently, she aped a black mini dress with two hands holding a loop at the centre of the chest from British-American fashion designer Harris Reed, who famously dressed Harry Styles for the December 2020 Vogue cover. Reed, whose gender-fluid designs have also been worn by Adele, Selena Gomez and Emma Watson, praised Uorfi’s recreation of the outfit through his Instagram stories, adding that he is “kinda obsessed” with her.  

Uorfi posed a rhetorical question to me: “I just wanna look good and be myself. Is that a crime?” For the politicians who target her, it might as well be. Non-cognisable offences or NCs – offences in which a police officer cannot make an arrest without a warrant from the magistrate – have been filed against her across India.

“To date, there is not a single FIR against me anywhere in the country because those fuckers know that they won’t have a case, once it reaches the court,” she said. An FIR is the first information report that applies to cognisable offences. A judicial warrant is not required for an arrest to be made. 


“All these people have only [made] an NC complaint. They don’t want to lose in court. They’d much rather go to the media and accuse me of harming India’s tradition,” she said. “They call me an attention-hungry whore, but they actually want to leech off my fame.”

Almost every post on her Instagram is filled with hate, and her inbox is bursting with rape and death threats, even from non-anonymous accounts. A few weeks ago, Mumbai police arrested a man named Naveen Giri for making persistent rape and death threats to Uorfi. 

She often uses her tongue-in-cheek humour to take down trolls. Recently, Chitra Wagh — a politician from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the ruling party in India — filed a police complaint against Uorfi for indulging in “nudity publicly on the streets of Mumbai.” In a series of tweets, Uorfi blasted the politician. One of them included: “Uorfi ki underwear me chhed hai, Chitra tai great hai (There’s a hole in Uorfi’s underwear, Chitra sister is great).” Now, Uorfi has moved the Maharashtra State Commission for Women against the politician, complaining that Wagh’s “comments instigate attacks.”


But the hate still got to Uorfi in ways she could not have anticipated. “I’m openly non-Muslim despite my Muslim name, so Hindus and Muslims unite in their hate for me,” she said. “Initially, the trolling and slut-shaming didn’t affect me, but I was depressed shortly after. It fucked me up. All these people filing complaints [against me] made me feel like I had done such a big crime that I should die. I’d think: Am I a whore? Am I really a blot on society?” 

The journey towards self-love and owning her choices has been a long and arduous one. It didn’t help that the TV roles she was getting at that time were less than sterling, stereotyping herself as the  sister, or “broken girlfriend.” So, even though she “didn’t like the way she looked,” Uorfi said that the journey of self-love included stops at the dermat for lip and chin fillers. She wanted a nose job, too, but didn’t have the money for it. 

“Recently, I wanted to get a butt implant because I’d lost so much weight,” she said. “When I went to the dermat, they gave me a laundry list of things to do – from tightening the skin around my back, filling up the unevenness around my body and whatnot. So, I was like fuck it, I’ll just be the way I am now.” 

It didn’t help that for the longest time, even friends would be ashamed and embarrassed to go out with her. “No one’s paying my bills. So, I told them to fuck off. Thankfully, I’ve filtered them out and now I’m surrounded by people who actually appreciate me.”

Uorfi now looks at the future with hope. Her dreams are not ordinary because she would do anything but choose to be ordinary, easily forgotten, and consigned to the long shadow of time. “I see myself at the top. I want to be the richest woman in India, and maybe even the world. Someone who is out there. I want everyone to know me. I want to be a legend.”

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