November 19, 1951
Zeenat Aman, the very name brings about images of a pot-smoking girl singing ‘Hare Krishna Hare Ram’ or a female dressed in white, trying to woo her guy by singing ‘Chura Liya Hai Tumne’, strumming her guitar all the while. Zeenat is one of the few actresses of the 1970s and 1980s who went against the norm and portrayed a heroine who was bold and comfortable in her skin as well as with her sexuality. She debuted in the Hindi film industry in 1971, with the film ‘Hungama’. However, it was her third movie, ‘Haré Raama Haré Krishna’ that made people sit back and take notice of her. Since then, she never felt the need to look back.
Childhood and Early Life
Zeenat Aman was born on 19th November 1951, to a Hindu mother and a Muslim father. Her father Amanullah was one of the writers of the classic, period film "Mughal-e-Azam". She was the only child of her parents and witnessed heartbreak at a very young age, when her parents got divorced. Tragedy further struck her at the age of thirteen, when her father passed away, leaving a void in her life. Zeenat attended Saint Xavier's school in Bombay during her schooling days and graduated from there.
After graduating from Saint Xavier's, she managed to bag a scholarship to study in Los Angeles, California. Completing her studies, she came back to India and started working as a reporter, for the magazine ‘Femina’. It were her friends who introduced her to modeling and she went on to do Pond's ‘7 day to better complexion’ ad campaign. She also modeled for Taj Mahal tea. Thereafter, she entered Miss India contest and ended up being the second runners-up. Later, she went to Miss Asia/Pacific and became the first ever Indian to win the title.
Zeenat Aman began her film career in 1971, with a small role in O. P. Ralhan's movie ‘Hulchul’. Thereafter, she was seen in Hungama (1971), starring singer Kishore Kumar. None of the films proved to be successful and she was hardly noticed. It was another 1971 film ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’, which served as the first major role of her career. Zeenat played the role of Dev Anand’ sister 'Janice/Jasbeel', which was first offered to Zaheeda. She won the heart of the audience in the R. D. Burman's song "Dum Maro Dum".
The film ended up getting her Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award, along with BFJA Award for Best Actress. In fact, the movie got Zeenat even more attention than the female lead, played by the reigning actress ‘Mumtaz’. The rest of the 1970s saw Zeenat pairing with Dev Anand a number of times, in films like ‘Heera Panna’ (1973), ‘Ishq Ishq Ishq’ (1974), ‘Prem Shastra’ (1974), ‘Warrant’ (1975), ‘Darling Darling’ (1977) and ‘Kalabaaz’ (1977). Amongst all these films, ‘Warrant’ proved to be the biggest box-office success.
Her popularity during this time can be gauged from the fact that in December 1974, Cine Blitz magazine was launched with Zeenat Aman gracing its cover. Zeenat worked with some of the biggest names of that time - B. R. Chopra, Nasir Hussain, Shakti Samanta, Manoj Kumar and Manmohan Desai. The year 1978 saw her playing the lead role in Raj Kapoor's ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’. Though the film bombed at the box office at the time of its released, it was appreciated by audience in the later years.
‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ earned Zeenat the Filmfare nomination for Best Actress. The same year, she was seen in ‘Shalimar’, which was to serve as her entry into Hollywood. The film proved to be failure in USA as well as in India. However, soon she was seen in ‘Don’, the success of which covered up failure of both ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ and ‘Shalimar’. She was back in the limelight once again. ‘Dharam Veer’ and ‘Dostana’ are amongst the other films that she did in the late 1970s.
In 1980 came Zeenat’s ‘Insaaf Ka Tarazu’, in which she played the role of a justice-seeking rape victim. She was highly appreciated in the movie and also received a Filmfare Best Actress nomination. The same year, she did Qurbani, a love triangle that became a box office hit. ‘Abdullah’, a costume drama set in the arid desert, was another film that she did in 1980. In 1981, she was seen in ‘Laawaris’, the film that is known for its song ‘Mere Angene Mein, Tumhara Kya Kaam Hai’ till date.
Zeenat continued to act in films through the 1980s, which included 'Jaanwar', 'Vakil Babu', 'Hum Se Hai Zamana', 'Sohni Mahiwal', 'Meri Adalat', and 'Daku Hasina'. It was in the year 1989 that she was last seen in a lead role, in ‘Tujhe Nahin Chhodunga’ and 'Gawahi'. Zeenat was again seen on-screen, after a gap of 10 years, in the film ‘Bhopal Express’ (1999). After acting in Boom (2003), she was last seen in Jaana: Let's Fall in Love (2006) and Sirf Romance: Love by Chance (2007).
Zeenat Aman’s first marriage was with fellow-actor Sanjay Khan, which ended in a tragic divorce. She married for the second, this time a minor-actor Mazhar Khan. The couple had two kids - Azaan and Zahaan. As if the marital stress was not enough for her, Mazhar fell ill with liver dysfunction. Zeenat spent almost all her savings on his treatment. However, neither doctors nor prayers could save Mazhar and he breathed his last in September 1998. She did not even get the time to get over the tragedy, when her in-laws started defaming her in public.
Along with that, they also stole her son and brainwashed him so much that he refused to see Zeenat and at times, even abused her. This went on for a period of five years. Finally, with the help of her old friends like Dimple Kapadia, Zeenat called a press conference and decided to let the world know her side of the story. Soon, all the allegations against her stopped and she managed to win back her son. Presently, Zeenat lives in Mumbai, with her two sons and makes many social appearances. However, she is seen on-screen very rarely.
Awards and Nominations
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 Award” at the eighth annual Bollywood Movie Awards
2008 - Zee Cine Award for Lifetime Achievement
1970 - The Evil Within
1971 - Hungama, Hulchul, Haré Raama Haré Krishna
1973 - Yaadon Ki Baaraat, Heera Panna, Dhund
1974 - Roti Kapada Aur Makaan, Prem Shastra, Ishq Ishq Ishq, Manoranjan, Ajanabee
1975 - Warrant, Chori Mera Kaam
1976 - Deewangee, Balika Badhu (uncredited - voice)
1977 - Paapi, Kalabaaz, Dharam Veer, Darling Darling, Chhaila Babu, Aashiq Hoon Baharon Ka, Hum Kisi Se Kum Nahin
1978 - Shalimar, Heeralal Pannalal, Chor Ke Ghar Chor, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Don
1979 - The Great Gambler
1980 - Takkar, Ram Balram, Bombay 405 Miles, Abdullah, Alibaba Aur 40, Qurbani, Dostana, Insaaf Ka Tarazu
1981 - Professor Pyarelal, Katilon Ke Kaatil, Krodhi, Laawaris
1982 - Samraat, Pyaas, Jaanwar, Daulat, Ashanti, Gopichand Jasoos, Vakil Babu, Teesri Aankh
1983 - Taqdeer, Pukar, Hum Se Hai Zamana, Mahaan, Bandhan Kuchchey Dhaagon Ka
1984 - Yeh Desh, Sohni Mahiwal, Pakhandi, Jagir, Meri Adalat
1985 - Yaar Kasam, Bhawani Junction, Ameer Aadmi Gharib Aadmi, Yaadon Ki Kasam
1986 - Haathon Ki Lakeeren, Baat Ban Jaye, Aurat
1987 - Daku Hasina
1988 - Namumkin
1989 - Tujhe Nahin Chhodunga, Gawahi
1999 - Bhopal Express
2003 - Boom
2006 - Jaana: Let's Fall in Love
2007 - Sirf Romance: Love by Chance