Zeenat Aman in 2018
|Alma mater||University of Southern California, Los Angeles|
|Years active||1971–1989, 2003–present|
|Title||Femina Miss India Asia Pacific 1970|
Miss Asia Pacific 1970
Sanjay Khan (m. 1978–1979)
(m. 1985; died 1998)
|Beauty pageant titleholder|
|Femina Miss India 1970|
(Femina Miss India Asia Pacific 1970)
Miss Asia Pacific 1970
Zeenat Aman (born as Zeenat Khan) is an Indian actress, former model and beauty queen who is best known for her work in Hindi films throughout the 1970s and 1980s. She is widely considered to be a very influential actress of Indian cinema, and known as one of the few inspirational figures that revolutionized Bollywood in all. She made a massive impact on the image of its leading actresses by introducing the modern look to Hindi cinema. She had opened the new door for all the other actresses and had been an inspiration for many other heroines.
Zeenat first started off as a journalist for Femina magazine. Shortly after she took up modelling in 1966, endorsing various brands one of which being Taj Mahal Tea. She then went on to participate in beauty pageants at the age of 19, winning various pagaents and placing high in a few others. She won both the Femina Miss India pageant and the Miss Asia Pacific International pageant as well in 1970. This brought her much credibility, and brought more attention towards her artistry and beauty.
Later on, she went on to act in Bollywood films, her first few movies being box office failures. Just before she was about to quit the film industry, she was approached by Dev Anand to star in his movie Hare Rama Hare Krishna. The role brought her much fame, and her performance was critically acclaimed, winning her a Filmfare award. She then went on to star in more hard-hitting films throughout her career, the most notable being Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Yaadon Ki Baaraat, Don, Insaf Ka Tarazu, Qurbani, Laawaris, Dostana, Dharam Veer, Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, Hum Kisise Kum Naheen and more, over a span of fifty years. She has received a wide variety of awards, including winning a Filmfare award (also being nominated for two), and various lifetime achievement awards.
Zeenat Aman was born in Bombay in 1951. Her mother, Scinda Vardhini Karvaste, is from Maharashtra. Zeenat is the cousin of actor Raza Murad and niece of actor Murad. Her father, Amanullah Khan, was related to the Bhopal State ruling family. Her mother was Anglo-Indian and her father of Afghan descent. He was a script writer for movies such as Mughal-e-Azam and Pakeezah, and often wrote under the nom de plume "Aman", which Zeenat Aman later adopted as her second name on screen. He died when Zeenat Aman was 13. Her mother afterwards married a German man called Heinz and also obtained German citizenship.
She did her schooling in Panchgani and went to University of Southern California in Los Angeles for further studies on student aid, but she could not complete her graduation. Upon her return to India, she first took up a job as a journalist for Femina and then moved on to modeling. One of the first few brands that she modeled for was Taj Mahal Tea in 1966. 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 Pacific 1970 contest and a successful modeling career, Aman's film career began with a small role in O. P. Ralhan’s Hulchul in 1971. She had a second brief role in Ralhan’s Hungama (1971) opposite Vinod Khanna, starring singer Kishore Kumar, Mehmood and Helen; but both films were unsuccessful, and she was ready to pack her bags to leave India and was ready to go to Malta with her mother and stepfather.
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 the R. D. Burman song Dum Maro Dum, won over the hearts of the 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 Bhosle's voice) has won her more popularity and the hearts of millions of fans.
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 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 a later stage, the film had a great deal to do with Aman'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.
Aman's entry into Hollywood also backfired when Krishna Shah Shalimar (1978), co-starring Dharmendra, Shammi Kapoor and international names like Rex Harrison, John Saxon and Sylvia Miles, proved to be a failure in the United States and in India.. 1978 could have been a disaster year for her, because of the diminishing box office returns of Shalimar and discouraging critical reviews of Satyam Shivam Sundaram but Aman 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 success. 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 through filming. Her role of a Westernized revenge-seeking action heroine contributed to the film's huge success and her fans reconnected with her. Westernized heroines such as Parveen Babi and Tina Munim now followed in her footsteps by the late 1970s. Aman continued to act in hits such as Dharam Veer, Chhailla 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 (1980 film), Alibaba Aur 40 Chor, Dostana (1980) and Lawaaris (1981). Her last role as the female lead was in the movie Gawahi, a courtroom drama in 1989.
The 1990s and 2000s
Aman came back to the silver screen after a decade doing a cameo role in the film Bhopal Express (1999).
Aman 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. Zeenat Aman had a TV show called In Conversation with Zeenat made by B4U TV and also made an appearance along with Hema Malini in the popular show Koffee with Karan hosted by Karan Johar.
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.
Her net worth in October 2018 was calculated to be 88 crores (equal to roughly $12,000,000 USD).
Zeenat Aman went through two marriages, one with Sanjay Khan for a year, and one with Mazhar Khan, from 1985 to his death in 1998. She had two children with Mazhar and was in a relationship for 13 years. It was said that both Mazhar and Sanjay Khan were abusive. In both of these marriages, Zeenat stated she was unhappy.
It was reported that Zeenat was aggressively beaten by Sanjay Khan. There was reportedly a lengthy argument between the two after Zeenat received a phone call from Sanjay asking to discuss specifics for the film Abdullah. She then decided to meet him at the hotel he was staying at, where she was then taken into a separate room of the hotel as there was a private party going on at the time she arrived, and Zeenat was beaten, resulting in many injuries. This had been seen by his wife, who had allegedly cheered him on to keep doing so. This incident was the cause of damage in one of her eyes, leading to a lazy eye. It was not until the hotel's security intervened that the abuse stopped. Zeenat has stated that she pretends this incident never happened.
Awards and nominations
- 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
- 2018 - Society Achievers Award -Lifetime Achievement
Style and influence
Zeenat Aman's 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, 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, Chhailla Babu, Dostana and Lawaaris, which is considered by many to be a landmark in Indian Cinema. 
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