Rohit wrote on 11 Aug 2008
Zeenat Aman was born on 19th November 1951 to a Muslim father and a Hindu Brahmin Maharashtrian mother. Amanullah, her father was one of the writers for the movie Mughal-e-Azam and he died when Zeenat was just 13. Aman graduated from St. Xavier's College, Mumbai and went to Los Angeles for her studies. Upon returning to India, she first took a job as a journalist for Femina and then later on moved on to modeling. She was the second runner up in the Miss India Contest and went on to win the Miss Asia Pacific in 1970. She was considered a sex symbol during the 70s.
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, was also not successful. However, an error of judgment on actress Zaheeda's part changed the course of Aman's career. Dev Anand offered Zaheeda (his second heroine in Prem Pujari) the role of sister in Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1972). Overlooking the fact that the role was important, Zaheeda wanted the heroine's role (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 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. In 1978, she starred in Raj Kapoor's massively publicised Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978), however, the film was not much of a success. 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, the film is what made her famous later on. She also earned a Filmfare nomination as Best Actress for this film.
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 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 altrustic, and she didn't even take any remuneration for it, because she wanted to help the producer, Nariman Irani, who passed away 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 and Dostana. Unlike her breakthrough roles in the early 1970s, Aman was increasingly asked to just provide sex appeal in hero-oriented, multi-star 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). Aman enjoyed a phase of renewed fame when she associated with Sanjay Khan during Abdullah (1980), a colourful costume drama set in the arid desert. She’s currently filming for “Sirf Romance: Love By Chance” and signed for “Geeta in Paraside.”