Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter

Updated: November 19, 2012 14:20 IST

For a long, long time the Bollywood heroine was more of a stereotype: demure and virginal. Then came Zeenat Aman and changed the face, rather the body, of the leading lady for good.

Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Bollywood's original glamour girl Zeenat Aman took Bollywood by storm in the ‘70s with her bold portrayals. From the troubled hippie in Hare Rama Hare Krishna to defining female sexuality in Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Zeenat Aman has shattered stereotypes time and time again.

On her 61st birthday today, here's looking back at her life.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Zeenat was born to a Muslim father, Amanullah Khan, and a Hindu mother, Scinda. Amanullah Khan, one of the scriptwriters of films such as Mughal-e-Azam and Pakeezah, died when she was 13 and her mother then married Mr Heinz, a German and moved to Germany with Zeenat. Zeenat was unhappy there and returned to India as soon as she was 18.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Zeenat left sunny California after university and came back to Mumbai to work as a journalist for Femina. She didn't just land a job there, she scored a cover as well, launching her career as a model. Brooke Bond Taj Mahal Tea was an early brand that she modelled for.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
In 1970, Zeenat was second runner up in the Miss India pageant, which she entered for a lark, and went on to win Miss Asia Quest that year. She became the second Indian, after Reita Faria, to win an international beauty pageant. She also bagged the Miss Photogenic title
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Producer-director O P Ralhan, a friend of Zeenat's father, gave her the first break in Bollywood with a small part in Hulchul (1971). He cast her again in Paapi (1977) and Pyaas (1982).
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Zeenat also tried her hand at comedy in Hungama (1971) opposite Kishore Kumar but had no luck at the box-office. Meanwhile, O P Ralhan helped her meet Dev Anand at a party. Dev Anand was then looking for someone to play his sister in what was to become the cult classic Hare Rama Hare Krishna.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
While talking to Dev Anand at the party, Zeenat took out a pack of cigarettes and offered him a smoke. Dev Anand had found his girl!
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Zeenat played the now classic role of drug addled, troubled hippie Janice and there was no looking back for her after that. Before Hare Rama Hare Krishna released, she had given up on her movie career and was all set to move back to Germany. Dev Anand persuaded her to stay on till the film released and she did – with the happiest possible ending. The film made her a huge star and she won the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Zeenat had first met Dev Anand when she was 12. He was charming and goodlooking but it was Hollywood hunk Paul Newman who was the object of Zeenat's pre-teen affections
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Next came Nasir Husain's lost-and-found tale Yaadon Ki Baarat (1973) and Zeenat could do no wrong at the box-office. Among the memorable songs from the movie was the evergreen Chura Liya Hai, picturised on Zeenat and costar Vijay Arora.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Zeenat then teamed up with Dev Anand again in Heera Panna (1973), this time playing his love interest and a thief to boot. The film is best remembered for her bikini moment.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
She continued to make unconventional movie choices with B R Chopra's thriller Dhund (1973) in which she played an adulteress trying to get rid of her husband.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
In Manoj Kumar multi-starrer Roti, Kapda Aur Makaan (1974) she played an opportunist who dumps her unemployed boyfriend for a millionaire.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
The late Shammi Kapoor made his directorial debut with Manoranjan (1974), a remake of Hollywood classic Irma La Douce, in which Zeenat plays the role of the happy hooker.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Zeenat's Westernised sensibilities and willingness to show a bit of skin in Manoranjan shook up Bollywood. By then, the line between the heroine and the vamp had begun to blur.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Sex symbol Zeenat had not always been comfortable in her skin. As a teenager, she was “dismayed and shocked” by her body and would take pains to keep it under wraps. Even in sweltering Mumbai she wore “one sweater and over it, a pullover”
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Zeenat next made Shakti Samanta's Ajnabee (1974) with reigning king of the box-office, Rajesh Khanna. In the movie, she plays an ambitious woman who wants to abort her child for the sake of her career.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Dev Anand and Zeenat made a few more movies together – Warrant (1975), in which Zeenat played an assassin, Kalabaaz (1977) and Darling Darling (1977).
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Hitmaker Manmohan Desai cast her as a princess in Dharam Veer (1977) opposite Dharmendra, Jeetendra and Neetu Singh.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Yaadon Ki Baarat director Nasir Husain cast her again in blockbuster hit Hum Kisi Se Kum Naheen. (1977)
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Dharmendra and Zeenat made a foray into Hollywood with Shalimar (1978) also starring Shammi Kapoor and Sir Rex Harrison, but the movie bombed at the box-office.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Then came the role that was to define Zeenat Aman forever – Raj Kapoor presented female sexuality in all its glory in Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978) and who but Zeenat could have played the role of the disfigured, but intensely sexual, Rupa?
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
The film made no dent in the box-office but earned a degree of notoriety with it's risqué scenes, bringing down the wrath of the Censor Board. Raj Kapoor famously lamented, “What's immoral in showing off a beautiful girl? If Fellini shows a woman in the nude it's considered art. If I show off a woman's beauty it's called exploitation.”
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Zeenat had to fight off tough competition from other actresses to land the part of Rupa – she got it by showing up at RK Studios in a ghagra-choli and some burnt paper stuck on her face. Raj Kapoor was duly impressed and signed her on.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
He certainly didn't regret casting her. The wet, white saree and flashes of bare bosom made her the object of every male fantasy and made a place for the movie in the Bollywood galaxy
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Though Satyam Shivam Sundaram failed to set the cash registers ringing, Don did just that in 1978. Amitabh and Zeenat had both appeared in Roti, Kapda Aur Makaan but not opposite each other. In Don, Zeenat matched Amitabh in a game of wits as the feisty, out-for-revenge, Roma.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Big B and Zeenat appeared together again in The Great Gambler (1979) in which Zeenat played a club dancer.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Zeenat and Amitabh proved to be a popular screen couple but in their next film, Ram Balram, Zeenat moved on to Dharmendra while Amitabh played opposite Rekha.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Actor-director Feroz Khan cast Zeenat as the focus of a love triangle involving himself and Vinod Khanna in Qurbani (1980). Zeenat played Sheela, a club singer and dancer and her white bikini from the film was the talk of the town.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Much as she tried, Zeenat was never able to shed the sex symbol tag. She tried an image makeover with Insaaf Ka Tarazu (1980) but was only partly successful. In the movie, she plays a courageous rape victim who ultimately kills her rapist.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Zeenat and Amitabh made a number of movies together in the early ‘80s including Lawaaris, Pukar and Mahaan.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
But by the mid ‘80s, Zeenat's shine had dimmed a little and her career hit a speedbreaker
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
The 70s belonged to Zeenat but things weren't as great off screen. She was still looking for Mr Right at the peak of her movie career when along came already-married Sanjay Khan who cast her in Abdullah (1980).
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Love blossomed on set and was reportedly even followed by a secret wedding. But there was no happy ending in store for Zeenat who was allegedly assaulted by Sanjay and first wife Zarine at the Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai, leaving her eye permanently damaged.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Zeenat made a second go at marriage with Mazhar Khan in 1985. He was already married and 10 years younger. They had 2 sons, Azaan and Zahaan, but things fell apart after.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
By 1998 they were divorced and Zeenat was allegedly assaulted by her in-laws and elder son Azaan. Mazhar Khan died soon after of renal failure.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Meanwhile, Zeenat was in a relationship with the much younger Zaheer Aslam who has been blamed for the rift between Zeenat and her family
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
After a long hiatus from Bollywood, Zeenat made a comeback with Bhopal Express in 1999.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
She then made a string of poor to middling movies including Kaizad Gustad's much hyped Boom with Amitabh Bachchan, Ugly Aur Pagli, Sirf Romance: Love By Chance and Geeta In Paradise.
Zeenat Aman: Still making hearts flutter
Zeenat Aman is a regular at social circuits and fashion circles. She was seen walking the ramp at the India International Jewellery Week in Mumbai in August this year in a golden lehenga by Riyaz and Reshma Gangji.

................................ Advertisement ................................

................................ Advertisement ................................

Listen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.com