Zeenat Aman was born on the 19th of November, 1951 in Mumbai. Her father was Amanullah Khan, a script writer of many Bollywood Movies like Pakeezah. After her father’s death, when Zeenat was just 13 years old, her mother remarried Mr. Heinz, a German. The family moved to Germany, but Zeenat moved back to India when she was 18 years old.
A Young Beauty
Urbane and Cool
Zeenat began as a journalist after graduating from the St.Xavier’s College in Mumbai and then further studies in the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, California. All this education gave her not only the Anglicized accent, but also a Westernised outlook; she was one of the few actresses who was so highly educated before entering films.
In A Print Ad
Zeenat soon turned to modelling and then became the second runner up at the Miss India Contest and was subsequently crowned Miss Asia Pacific in 1970.
In Hare Rama Hare Krishna
She debuted in Bollywood with a minor role in O.P.Ralhan’s film Hulchul in 1971. Her second outing in the movie Hungama in 1971 was equally unsuccessful. She was ready to admit defeat when Dev Anand offered the role of his sister to Zeenat as a last minute choice, for his film Hare Rama Hare Krishna in 1972. Her role of Janice is remembered till today and she is still associated with this landmark movie, even though her role was a secondary one. The role fetched her the prestigious Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award.
The pairing of Dev Anand and Zeenat was seen in many more films of which some were not so successful like Ishq Ishq Ishq in 1974 and some of which, like the film Warrant in 1975, was successful at the box office.
‘Come Hither’ Look
She paired with other actors too and successfully too, as with Vijay Arora in the unforgettable film Yaadon Ki Baaraat in 1973, Amitabh Bachchan in Don and Pukar and Rajesh Khanna in Ajnabee.
Her sex symbol image and her bold confidence was utilised in many movies as well as magazine covers. But, the blatant show of her sexuality by Raj Kapoor for his 1978 film Satyam Shivam Sundaram was criticised by many, though reportedly she had openly canvassed for the role.
Her international looks gave her a role in Krishan Shah’s Hollywood venture Shalimar in 1978 that had Hollwood heavy weights like Rex Harrison and Sylvia Miles, but the movie didn’t fare well at the box office in both the USA as well as India.
Her other international venture was successful and Zeenat Aman became very popular in Russia after the Indo-Russian film Ali Baba Aur 40 Chor.
This gorgeous beauty who was affectionately called ‘Babushka’ by her mother, had been linked to many of her male co-stars, but the one with actor-producer-director Sanjay Khan was the most serious and which ended in a nasty and violent fashion.
Zeenat wasn’t lucky too, in her marriage with late actor Mazhar Khan, whose alleged domestic abuse led to their divorce. Since then, she has remained single and looked after her two sons.
The Hep Village Gal
Her last outing in Bollywood as the leading lady was in the film Gawahi in 1989.
She has performed in the play ‘The Graduate’ as the Mrs. Robinson in 2004, in Mumbai. She is still seen in films, in cameo roles; she has acted in films like the disastrous Boom in 2003, Ugly Aur Pagli in 2008.
She was at the forefront of the troop of urbanized, modern, young actresses who were not unashamed to show off their beautiful figures or relationships, and those who followed her footsteps like Parveen Babi and Sarika were often dubbed as the ‘poor man’s version’ of the real Zeenat!