|Beauty pageant titleholder|
Zeenat Aman walks the ramp for Sawansukha Jewellers at IIJW 2011
|Born||1951 (age 63–64)
Bombay, Bombay State, India
(now Mumbai, Maharashtra) American National
|Alma mater||University of Southern California,
|Years active||1971–1989, 2003–present|
|Height||1.75 m (5 ft 9 in)|
|Title(s)||Femina Miss India Asia Pacific 1970
Miss Asia Pacific 1970
|Femina Miss India 1970
(Femina Miss India Asia Pacific 1970)
Miss Asia Pacific 1973
|Spouse||Mazhar Khan (1985–1998, his death)|
Zeenat Aman (born 1951 in Bombay) is an Indian actress and former beauty pageant titleholder and model best known for her work in Hindi films during the 1970s and 80's. She won the Miss Asia Pacific 1970 title. She is the first South Asian woman to win the title. Upon making her debut in Bollywood, Zeenat Aman, along with Parveen Babi, was credited with making a lasting impact on the image of its leading actresses by introducing the western look to Hindi cinema. Throughout her career she has been considered a sex symbol.
Zeenat Aman was born in Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay) in 1951 to Amanullah Khan and Scinda. Her father, Amanullah Khan was a script writer who was one of the writers for such movies as Mughal-e-Azam and Pakeezah. He died when Zeenat was 13. Her mother got re-married to a German husband, Heinz (was constantly referred to as Mrs. Heinz in all subsequent articles film magazines that would carry articles on Zeenat). Zeenat's mother obtained German citizenship and took her to Germany where Zeenat Aman temporary stayed. She returned to India for her career as soon as she turned 18. She is the cousin of actor Raza Murad and niece of actor Murad.
Zeenat Aman did her schooling in Panchgani and went to University of Southern California in Los Angeles (USA) for further studies on student aid but she could not complete her graduation. Upon returning to India, she first took up a job as a journalist for Femina and then later on moved on to modeling. One of the first few brands that she modeled for was Taj Mahal Tea and Television X Debut in 1966 exclusively. She was the second runner up in the Miss India Contest and went on to win the Miss Asia Pacific in 1970.
After having studied in Los Angeles, winning the Miss Asia Pageant and a successful modeling career, Zeenat Aman's film career began with a small role in O.P. Ralhan's Hulchul in 1971. A second role in Hungama (1971), starring singer Kishore Kumar where both films were not successful and she was ready to pack her bags to leave India and go back to Germany with her mother.
Dev Anand offered Zaheeda (his second heroine in Prem Pujari) the role of his sister in Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971). Not realizing the importance of this secondary role, Zaheeda wanted the lead female part (eventually played by Mumtaz) and she opted out. Zeenat Aman was chosen as a last-minute replacement.
In Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Zeenat Aman, aided by R. D. Burman's song "Dum Maro Dum" (Take Another Toke), won over the heart's of audience as Janice. She earned a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award and BFJA Award for Best Actress. Throughout the 1970s, the Dev-Zeenat pairing was seen in half a dozen films: Heera Panna (1973), Ishq Ishq Ishq (1974), Prem Shastra (1974), Warrant (1975), Darling Darling (1977) and Kalabaaz (1977). Of these, Warrant, was the biggest box-office success.
Her hep looks in Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973) as the girl carrying a guitar, singing "Churaliya hai tumne jo dil ko" (in Asha Bhonsle's voice) has won her more popularity and the hearts of millions of fans.
She appeared on every Hindi film magazine's cover during the 1970s. In December 1974, Cine Blitz magazine was launched with Zeenat Aman on its cover, a testimony to her popularity at the time. However, she went on as the favourite cover girl of the popular magazine 'Stardust'.
Zeenat Aman, in her career and her success with Navketan Films and Dev Anand, found success with other banners such as B.R. Chopra, Raj Kapoor, Manmohan Desai, Feroz Khan, Nasir Hussain, Manoj Kumar, Prakash Mehra, Raj Khosla and Shakti Samanta.
In 1978, she starred in Raj Kapoor's massively publicised Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978), however, the film was heavily criticized. The subject ironically dealt with the notion of the soul being more attractive than the body but Kapoor chose to showcase Aman's sex-appeal. The actress was highly criticized for her exposure but somehow at later stage, the film had a great deal to do with Zeenat's fame and the movie itself was distinguished as a work of art. She also earned a Filmfare nomination as Best Actress for this film.
Zeenat Aman's entry into Hollywood also backfired when Krishna Shah's Shalimar (1978), co-starring Dharmendra and international names like Rex Harrison and Sylvia Miles, proved to be a failure in the USA and in India. Zeenat possessed a convent schoolgirl accent and a penchant for revealing dresses. She matched Gina Lollobrigida in the battle of oomph at Shalimar's launch. 1978 could have been a disaster year for her, because of the diminishing box office returns of "Shalimar" and discouraging critics riviews of Satyam Shivam Sundaram but Zeenat had other successful commercial films during that year such as "Heeralal Pannalal" and Chor Ke Ghar Chor, yet it was Don that came to the rescue with its huge success. Ironically, her reasons for accepting the role in Don were altruistic and she didn't even take any remuneration for it because she wanted to help the producer Nariman Irani who died midway filming. Her role of a Westernized revenge-seeking action heroine contributed to the film's huge success and her fans reconnected with her again. Westernized heroines like Parveen Babi and Tina Munim now followed in her footsteps by the late 1970s. Zeenat continued to act in hits like Dharam Veer, Chhaila Babu and The Great Gambler.
By the beginning of the 1980s, multi-starrer films became a trend and Zeenat Aman was increasingly asked to just provide sex appeal in hero-oriented films, despite success in so many films. In contrast to this trend was her performance as a rape victim seeking justice in B. R. Chopra's Insaaf Ka Tarazu (1980) for which she received a Filmfare Best Actress nomination. This film was followed by success in the love triangle Qurbani, Ali Baba aur 40 Chor, Dostana (1980) and Lawaaris (1981).
Zeenat's popularity in Russia was so great after Alibaba Aur 40 Chor that she felt pressured into doing a supporting role in Sohni Mahiwal. The film was moderately successful but no credit went to Zeenat.
Her last role as the female lead was in the movie Gawahi, a court room drama in 1989.
The 1990s and 2000s
Zeenat came back to the silver screen after a decade doing a cameo role in the film Bhopal Express (1999).
Zeenat went on to do roles in Boom (2003), Jaana... Let's Fall in Love (2006), Chaurahen (2007), Ugly Aur Pagli (2008), Geeta in Paradise (2009),Dunno Y... Na Jaane Kyon (2010) and "Strings of Passion" (2012).
In 2004, she appeared as Mrs. Robinson in the play The Graduate staged at St Andrew's auditorium in Mumbai.
She received a Lifetime Achievement Award during the Zee Cine Awards function in 2008 as a recognition of her contribution to Hindi Cinema.
She also received An Outstanding Contribution to Indian Cinema award at IIFA awards 2010 held at Colombo, Sri Lanka. She dedicated this award to her mother.
Zeenat Aman's sultry persona was a contrast to many of the more conservative stars of the era. At a time when heroines were obedient wives and lovers on the screens of Hindi Cinema, Zeenat was drawn to more unconventional roles—she was cast as the opportunist who deserts her jobless lover for a millionaire (Roti Kapda Aur Makaan), the ambitious girl who considers having an abortion in order to pursue a career (Ajnabee), the happy hooker (Manoranjan), the disenchanted hippie (Hare Rama Hare Krishna), the girl who falls in love with her mother's one-time lover (Prem Shastra) and a woman married to a caustic cripple but involved in an extramarital relationship (Dhund). She managed to balance these roles with acting in more conventional films such as Chori Mera Kaam, Chhaila Babu, Dostana and Lawaaris, which is considered by many to be a landmark in Indian Cinema. Encyclopædia Britannica's "Encyclopedia of Hindi Cinema" wrote, "Zeenat Aman had a definite impact on the characterization of the heroine in Hindi films. With films such as Hare Rama Hare Krishna and Yaadon Ki Baraat, she fashioned the image of the youthful and westernized woman in Hindi cinema."
Zeenat Aman's persona was such that newcomers were and still are compared to her. Parveen Babi was called "The poor man's Zeenat Aman", Sarika was christened "Zeenat Aman 2", Padmini Kolhapure was named "Baby Zeenat", and more recently, Bipasha Basu was referred to as the "new age Zeenat".
In a candid chat with Simi Garewal on her talk show, Zeenat revealed how she still bore the scars of her previous relationships. For beauty queen Zeenat Aman, life was as smooth as the graph of her filmy career. The Zeenat Aman who wanted pure love since her childhood, never found one. Zeenat was at the peak of her career when she married the relatively unsuccessful Mazhar Khan. On being asked what drew her to him, Zeenat took a long pause before finally uttering the truth.
She said, "My biological clock was ticking and I wanted to be a mother. I wanted to raise a family and now I think Mazhar just happened to be there at the right time. She also said even though Mazhar did not possess the qualities and attriubutes she wished to have in her life partner, she tried to fit him in. Though Zeenat's mother was totally against the match, Zeenat who had already suffered heart break decided to go on with her decision and married Mazhar. But Zeenat's mother could not take this too well and had a heart attack. It was only after Zeenat had kids and they started meeting their nani that she finally began to recover.
On being asked what went wrong in their relationship Zeenat said, "Mazhar never wanted me to grow as an individual or as an artist. He always wanted me to be with the kids and be at home. During the very first year of marriage I realised I had made a huge mistake, but I decided to live by it and make it work. I tried to make it work for another 12 years. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for me. There was not a single moment of happiness or joy during those 12 years. But I still tried making it work."
Talking about her troubled marriage she revealed, "Like every other girl or woman I had imagined and visualized a totally different picture of a married life in my head. But in reality it was nothing like it. Mazhar was never there whenever I needed him. Even when I was pregnant, he was not there to support me or be happy with me. Tabloids were filled with reports of him seeing someone else at that time but I still thought of giving us a chance. I wanted my child to have a father. I did everything I could to make this relationship work so that my son gets his father but at the end I lost the battle."
Zeenat's husband Mazhar had some serious problem in his pancreas. The illness which was detected in 1993 went on till 1997. During this period Zeenat was the only person by his side, all alone. Talking about those days she said, "93-97 was a continuous battle for me. I literally lived with him in the hospital all these years. From learning how to give injections to how to do the dressing, I did everything in my capacity single handedly. I looked after my children, I looked after my husband but there was no one to look after me. I am sure no other woman would have lasted in my situation for too long. But I held onto Mazhar. When the doctors in India gave up I took him to the best doctors abroad, and finally in 1997 he was allowed to go home. These 5 years I did not see day and night."
"My world had shrunk around Mazhar and my kids. These 5 years I just gave away everything I had. My positivity, energy, time and love. And by the end of the 5th year I realised I had nothing more to give. I realised I wanted out of that marriage. From battling for his life, it had now become a battle of my survival. If I would not have left then I would have definitely had a nervous breakdown."
"Mazhar was addicted to prescribed drugs, I pleaded him to come out of it but he would not listen. One day his kidneys finally packed up. His death came as a major blow to me. Even after all this I was not ready for him to die. I had fought all the battles for him, I could not believe he would make me lose like that. After his death I was blamed by his mother and sister that I did not support him. I was told I should not have left him. They did not allow me to pay my last respects. Every single penny he had left was taken by his mother and sister. There was nothing left for my children. My oldest son was fed negative things about me by his mother and sister. He was told how I had cheated his father and how I was not there when he needed me the most. Today they love their father as much as they love me. But that time was really tough for me."
Talking about the infamous Sanjay Khan episode she said," I have closed my mind to it, I pretend that it never happened. I don't think about it. I don't talk about it. That's the best way to cope up with it." In the same interview she also said, "I have always let my heart rule my head, but if I could rewind and start afresh I would listen to my mother. I would agree and follow whatever she told me."
Awards and recognitions
- 1970 - Femina Miss India Asia Pacific 1970
- 1970 - Miss Asia Pacific 1970
- 1970 - Special Awards - Miss Photogenic at Miss Asia Pacific 1970
- 1972 - Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award for Hare Rama Hare Krishna
- 1972 - BFJA Awards, Best Actress for Hare Rama Hare Krishna
- 1978 - Filmfare Nomination as Best Actress for Satyam Shivam Sundaram
- 1980 - Filmfare Nomination as Best Actress for Insaaf Ka Tarazu
- 2003 - Bollywood Awards 'Award for Lifetime Achievement'- Lifetime of Glamour.
- 2006 - "Outstanding Contribution to the Motion Picture Industry of India Awards" at the eighth annual Bollywood Movie Awards.
- 2008 - Zee Cine Award for Lifetime Achievement
- 2010 - "Outstanding Contribution to Indian cinema" at the 11th IIFA awards
- 2011 - "Best Contribution to Indian cinema" at the 11th IIFA awards
|1970||The Evil Within|
|Hare Rama Hare Krishna||Jasbir Jaiswal/Janice||Winner, Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award|
|1973||Yaadon Ki Baaraat||Sunita|
|Dhund||Rani Ranjit Singh|
|1974||Roti Kapada Aur Makaan||Sheetal|
|Ishq Ishq Ishq||Pooja Pahar|
|Ajanabee||Reshmi Kumar Saxena|
|Chori Mera Kaam||Sharmili|
|Balika Badhu||Adult Rajni||(uncredited) (voice)|
|Kalabaaz||Lisa/Radha G. Sapru/Tina|
|Dharam Veer||Rajkumari Pallavi|
|Aashiq Hoon Baharon Ka||Veera Rai|
|Hum Kisise Kum Naheen||Sunita Kewalchand|
|Chor Ke Ghar Chor|
|Satyam Shivam Sundaram||Rupa|
|1979||The Great Gambler||Shabnam|
|Bombay 405 Miles||Radha|
|Alibaba Aur 40 Chor||Fatima|
|Insaaf Ka Tarazu||Bharti Saxena|
|1981||Professor Pyarelal||Sonia B. Singh/Asha Rai|
|Katilon Ke Kaatil||Jamila Banu|
|Krodhi||Neera Kumar Sahni|
|1982||Samraat||Suman/Sandhya Chawla/Gurbachan Singh|
|Gopichand Jasoos||Bela/Lacho/Shano Rani|
|Vakil Babu||Kalpana Choudhry/Kalpana Kumar|
|Hum Se Hai Zamana||Nisha Thakur|
|Bandhan Kuchchey Dhaagon Ka||Sneh|
|Ameer Aadmi Gharib Aadmi||Kavita|
|Yaadon Ki Kasam||Chandni/Geeta Khanna|
|1986||Haathon Ki Lakeeren||Geeta Mohan|
|Baat Ban Jaye||Nisha Singh|
|1987||Daku Hasina||Daku Hasina|
|2003||Boom||Alice Rodriguez De Fonseca|
Let's Fall in Love
|2007||Sirf Romance: Love by Chance||Durga Putri|
|2008||Ugly Aur Pagli||Special Appearance|
|2010||Dunno Y... Na Jaane Kyon||Rebecca|
|2014||Strings of Passion|
- Gulzar; Nihalani, Govind; Chatterji, Saibal (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema. Popular Prakashan. p. 108. ISBN 81-7991-066-0.
- Raheja, Dinesh (12 November 2002). "The A to Z of Zeenat Aman". Rediff.com. Retrieved 2011-01-14.
- "DesiClub's Bollywood Top 25: The Women". desiclub.com. Retrieved 2010-04-27.
- 1st Filmfare Awards 1953
- 69th & 70th Annual Hero Honda BFJA Awards 2007[dead link]
- "Protima's naked run: Cine Blitz Profile". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
- Zeenat: I think Vijay is missing
- Lakshman, Ganesh S. Bollywood Awards 2003 at Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ[dead link].
- Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman To Be Honored At The Bollywood Awards
- "Rajesh Khanna, Zeenat Aman to be honoured". Press Trust of India
- Dinesh Raheja. The A to Z of Zeenat Aman. Rediff.com, 26 September 2004. Retrieved on 14 November 2005.
- Vidya Sampat & Lavanya Varadrajan. Zeenat Aman: The Sensual[dead link]. Despardes.com, 4 March 2005. Retrieved on 10 August 2005.
- Prateek Modi. Zeenat Aman: A Touch Of Class With Unlimited Oomph. Bollykings.com, 4 November 2011.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Zeenat Aman.|
- Zeenat Aman at the Internet Movie Database
- Celebrity Profile: Zeenat Aman[dead link]. Buzz18.com
- Zeenat Aman[dead link]. Yahoo! Movies
- Zeenat Aman article at Sunday Observer