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Zeenat Aman
Zeenat Aman at the Society Achievers Awards 2018.jpg
Zeenat Aman in 2018
Born (1951-11-19) 19 November 1951 (age 67)
Bombay, Bombay State, India
Alma materUniversity of Southern California, Los Angeles
OccupationActress, Model
Years active1971–1989, 2003–present
TitleFemina Miss India Asia Pacific 1970
Miss Asia Pacific 1970
Mazhar Khan
(m. 1985; died 1998)
Beauty pageant titleholder
Femina Miss India 1970
(Femina Miss India Asia Pacific 1970)
(Miss Photogenic)
Miss Asia Pacific 1973
(Miss Photogenic)

Zeenat Aman (born 19 November 1951) is an Indian actress, model and beauty queen best known for her work in Hindi films during the 1970s and 80s. She won the Miss Asia Pacific 1970 title, being the first South Asian woman to win the title. Upon making her debut in Bollywood, Zeenat Aman, along with Parveen Babi, was credited with making a lasting impact on the image of its leading actresses by introducing the modern look to Hindi cinema. Regarded as a path breaker of Indian cinema, she opened the new door for all the other actresses and being an inspiration for so many other heroines. She created her own identity by playing distinguished roles.[1][2][3]


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Professional career
    • 2.1 The 1970s
    • 2.2 The 1980s
    • 2.3 The 1990s and 2000s
    • 2.4 2003-Present
  • 3 Image
  • 4 Awards and recognitions
  • 5 Filmography
  • 6 References
  • 7 Further reading
  • 8 External links

Early life[edit]

Zeenat Aman was born in Bombay in 1951 to a Hindu mother and Muslim father. 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,[4][5] was related to the Bhopal State ruling family. 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.[6]

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.

Professional career[edit]

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 role in Hungama (1971), starring singer Kishore Kumar, 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.[2]

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[7] and BFJA Award for Best Actress.[8] 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.[2]

She appeared on every Hindi film magazine's cover during the 1970s. In December 1974, Cine Blitz magazine was launched with Zeenat Aman on its cover,[9] a testimony to her popularity at the time.

The 1970s[edit]

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.[2]

Aman's entry into Hollywood also backfired when Krishna Shah Shalimar (1978), co-starring Dharmendra and international names like Rex Harrison, John Saxon and Sylvia Miles, proved to be a failure in the United States and in India.[2] Aman possessed a convent schoolgirl accent and a penchant for revealing dresses. 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.[10] 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.

The 1980s[edit]

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).[2] Her last role as the female lead was in the movie Gawahi, a courtroom drama in 1989.

The 1990s and 2000s[edit]

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.


Zeenat Aman's persona was a contrast to many of the more conservative stars of the era.[2] 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.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

  • 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.[11]
  • 2006 - Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2006 - "Outstanding Contribution to the Motion Picture Industry of India Awards" at the eighth annual Bollywood Movie Awards.[12][13]
  • 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