Zeenat Aman at Esha Deol's wedding reception
19 November 1951 |
|Years active||1971–1989, 1999, 2003, 2006–present|
|Spouse(s)||Mazhar Khan (1985–1998, his death)|
Zeenat Aman (Hindi: ज़ीनत अमान, Urdu: زینت امان) (born 19 November 1951) is an Indian actress who has appeared in Hindi films, notably in the 1970s and 1980s. She was the second runner up in the Miss India Contest and went on to win the Miss Asia Pacific in 1970. Upon making her debut in Bollywood, Aman was credited with making a lasting impact on the image of its leading actresses by bringing the western heroine look to Hindi cinema, and throughout her career has been considered a sex symbol.
Early life 
Zeenat Aman was born in Mumbai (erstwhile Bombay) on 19 Nov 1951 to a Muslim father, Amanullah Khan and a Hindu mother, Scinda. Her father 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, Heinz (was constantly referred to as Mrs. Heinz in all subsequent articles film magazines would carry on Zeenat). Zeenat's mother obtained German citizenship, and took her to Germany, where Zeenat was very unhappy, returning to India as soon as she turned 18.
Aman graduated from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai and went to University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California for further studies on student aid. Upon returning to India, she first took 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.
Film career 
The beginning 
After having studied in Los Angeles, winning the Miss Asia Pageant and a successful modeling career, 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, 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 (1972). Not realizing the importance of this secondary role, Zaheeda wanted the lead female part (eventually played by Mumtaz), and she opted out. Aman was chosen as a last-minute replacement.
In Hare Rama Hare Krishna, 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 hip 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 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'.
The late 1970s 
Zeenat Aman, in her career, found success with other banners such as Dev Anand, 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 heavely 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, later on 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 Sophia Loren & 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 Satyam Shivam Sundaram and Shalimar, but it was Don that came to the rescue and set her career soaring again. 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. Westernised heroines like Parveen Babi and Tina Munim now followed in her footsteps, by the late 1970s. Aman continued to act in hits like Dharam Veer, Chhaila Babu and The Great Gambler.
The 1980s 
By the beginning of the 1980s multi-starrers films became a trend, and Zeenat Aman was increasingly asked to just provide sex appeal in hero-oriented, 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, and she went on to do small roles in Boom (2003), Jaana... Let's Fall in Love (2006), Chaurahen (2007), Ugly Aur Pagli (2008), Geeta in Paradise (2009) and Dunno Y... Na Jaane Kyon (2010).
In 2004, she appeared as Mrs. Robinson in the play The Graduate staged at St Andrew's auditorium in Mumbai.
Aman 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.
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 screen, Aman 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."
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" and Padmini Kolhapure was named "Baby Zeenat".
Personal life 
In 1985, she got married to Mazhar Khan and had two sons Azaan and Zahaan. Her husband Mazhar used to beat her up often which ultimately led to their filing for divorce. Mazhar Khan died in September 1998 (renal failure).
Today, Aman lives with her two sons and makes many social appearances and film awards functions, she is rarely seen on screen. Azaan is more keen in going behind the camera while Zahaan is interested in acting.
As of February 2013, Aman is reportedly planning to marry a 36 year old businessman from Mumbai, Shiva Sena member, Sarfaraz Ahmed. But then again she has refuted the news of her getting married while at the same time acknowledging that she is in love.
Awards and recognitions 
- 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
- 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]
- Zeenat: I think Vijay is missing
- "A TV serial on Zeenat’s life?". 27 June 2012.
- "Zeenat Aman: I'm NOT getting married!". Retrieved 06/02/2013.
- 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
Further reading 
- 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|
- Celebrity Profile: Zeenat Aman[dead link]. Buzz18.com
- Zeenat Aman[dead link]. Yahoo! Movies
- Zeenat Aman article at Sunday Observer