Aman in 2018
19 November 1951
|Alma mater||University of Southern California|
|Years active||1970–1989, 1999–present|
|Relatives||Raza Murad (cousin)|
Zeenat Khan (born 19 November 1951), better known as Zeenat Aman, is an Indian actress and model known for her work in Indian cinema throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. She has starred in over 80 films and, throughout her career, received several accolades, including the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress, two nominations for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress, the Filmfare Award for Timeless Glamour & Style Icon, and the BFJA Award for Best Actress.
Aman first received recognition for her modelling work, and at the age of 19, went on to participate in beauty pageants, winning both the Femina Miss India pageant and the Miss Asia Pacific International pageant in 1970. She then began acting in 1970, and her early works included the films The Evil Within (1970) and Hulchul (1971). Her breakthrough came with the film Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), for which she won the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award and the BFJA Award for Best Actress. She next starred in the film Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973), for which she received further recognition, and established herself as a leading actress in the seventies with starring roles in Roti Kapada Aur Makaan (1974), Ajanabee (1974), Warrant (1975), Chori Mera Kaam (1975), Dharam Veer (1977), Chhailla Babu (1977), Hum Kisise Kum Naheen (1977), and The Great Gambler (1979). In 1978, Aman starred in the film Satyam Shivam Sundaram, for which she was nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. She also starred in Don (1978), a film which spawned the Don franchise.
In the early 1980s, she had leading roles in Abdullah (1980), Alibaba Aur 40 Chor (1980), Qurbani (1980), Dostana (1980), and Insaf Ka Tarazu (1980), the latter of which Aman received another nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. She continued starring in films throughout the 1980s, having roles in the films Laawaris (1981), Mahaan (1983), Pukar (1983), Jagir (1984), and also had roles in the films Teesri Aankh (1982), Hum Se Hai Zamana (1983). Following her marriage to actor Mazhar Khan in 1985, Aman began appearing less frequently in films and took a hiatus in 1989, her last film for that period being Gawaahi (1989). In 1999, Aman made a comeback to acting, appearing in the film Bhopal Express; she did not continue acting until 2003, appearing in the film Boom, and has since had roles in various independant films, including Ugly Aur Pagli (2008), Dunno Y... Na Jaane Kyon (2010), Chaurahen (2012), Strings of Passion (2014), Dunno Y2... Life Is a Moment (2015), Dil Toh Deewana Hai (2016), and Sallu Ki Shaadi (2017). She also made a cameo in Panipat (2019).
Aside from acting, Aman made her theatre debut in 2004, appearing in the play The Graduate in Mumbai, and in 2020 it was announced she will appear in a play based on Kasturba Gandhi. She also led the 2017 web series Love Life & Screw Ups, for which she was praised. Her personal life and experiences with abuse have received much media coverage.
Zeenat Aman was born as Zeenat Khan in Bombay on 19 November 1951. Born to a Muslim father and a Maharashtrian Hindu mother, Aman is the cousin of actor Raza Murad and niece of actor Murad. Her father, Amanullah Khan, was a script writer for movies such as Mughal-e-Azam and Pakeezah, and often wrote under the nom de plume "Aman", which she later adopted as her screen name.
Aman's parents got divorced when she was young. At the age of 13, her father passed away. 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.
1970–1973: Modeling and acting debut
In 1970, she participated in the Femina Miss India pageant where she came in second place, and was titled the 'First Princess'. Following this, she competed in the Miss Asia Pacific International pageant, which she won, becoming the first Femina Miss India titleholder to win the pageant. After winning her pageants, Aman had begun acting, appearing first in the film The Evil Within alongside Dev Anand, which was commercially unsuccessful.
In 1971, Aman appeared in a minor role in O. P. Ralhan’s Hulchul, and in the same year appeared in Ralhan's other film Hungama, which starred Vinod Khanna, Kishore Kumar, Mehmood and Helen; both films were flops at the box-office. Actor and director Dev Anand soon approached Aman to star as Jasbir/Janice in his movie Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), an offer given to her after actress Zaheeda denied the role. The film was a critical success, which helped her achieve her breakthrough. Her performance and acting in the film was praised, and she won a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award and BFJA Award for Best Actress.
In the 1970s, Cine Blitz magazine was launched, with the first issue having with Aman on its cover. In 1973, she starred in Heera Panna yet again appearing alongside Anand, and starred in the action film Yaadon Ki Baaraat as Sunita, the heroine to Vijay Arora. The latter film was described by film scholar Kaushik Baumik as "the first quintessential Bollywood film". Aman's performance in the song "Churaliya hai tumne jo dil ko" garnered attention, where she then became known at the time as the "girl in white carrying a guitar". She also starred in Dhund alongside Sanjay Khan and Danny Denzongpa; its plot was inspired by the Agatha Christie novel The Unexpected Guest. The cast's performance was praised, however the film was declared an average-grosser.
1974–1978: Established actress
In 1974, Aman began the year starring in Manoj Kumar's film Roti Kapda Aur Makaan, where she portrayed Sheetal, an opportunist who deserts her jobless lover for a millionaire. Aman had continued to star alongside Dev Anand throughout the year, appearing together in Prem Shastra and Ishq Ishq Ishq. She had a role as Nisha, a recovering prostitute in the Shammi Kapoor directed film Manoranjan, and starred in Ajanabee as Rashmi, an ambitious girl who considers having an abortion in order to pursue a career, starring alongside Rajesh Khanna. The latter film had an average performance at the box office.
In 1975, Aman appeared in two films: she starred in the films Warrant as an assassin, and Chori Mera Kaam as Sharmali, both of which were successful. In the year following, she appeared in Deewaangee alongside Shashi Kapoor, and had an uncredited voice role in Balika Badhu.
In 1977, starred in the movie Dharam Veer alongside Dharmendra, Jeetendra, and Neetu Singh as a princess. The film was the second highest-grossing Hindi film of that year. She had roles in the films Darling Darling, which was again portrayed alongside Dev Anand, and in the film Chhailla Babu which was a commercial success. Aman next starred in the film Hum Kisise Kum Naheen as Sunita, the lover of Rishi Kapoor, which was the third highest-grossing Hindi film of the year.
In 1978, Aman attempted to make an entry into Hollywood, which backfired when Krishna Shah's film Shalimar proved unsuccessful in both the United States and in India. She next starred in Heeralaal Pannalal as well as starring in Chor Ke Ghar Chor, again starring in the latter film with Ashok Kumar. Aman then appeared in Raj Kapoor's film Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978). The film was a box-office success, however initially drew controversy from critics, with many describing the plot as counter-intuitive; the subject dealt with the notion of the soul being more attractive than the body, however Kapoor showcased Aman's sex-appeal. Despite the controversial nature of the film at the time, Aman's performance was praised, and earned her a Filmfare nomination for Best Actress.
Aman starred as Roma in the film Don. The producer of the film, Nariman Irani, had been losing money at the time, which led Aman to take the role, refusing payment for her work; Irani died midway through filming, however the film was a commercial success, and served as the basis of the Don franchise. In 1979, Aman appeared as Shabnam in The Great Gambler, which became a sleeper hit. Aman's last role that year was a guest appearance in the film Gol Maal.
1980–1981: International productions
In 1980, Aman first had roles in the films Takkar as Sapna, and Ram Balram as Madhu. She also starred as Radha alongside Vinod Khanna in Bombay 405 Miles. Aman next starred as Zainab in the Sanjay Khan directed film Abdullah, starring alongside Raj Kapoor, Danny Denzongpa and Khan himself. The film had one of the highest budgets spent on any film at the time, which was a risk taken by Khan for its success. Despite underperforming in India, the film achieved success in the Soviet Union. Aman next starred as Fatima in the Indian-Soviet produced film Adventures of Ali-Baba and the Forty Thieves, better known as Alibaba Aur 40 Chor, which is one of three film adaptations of the original folk tale, the other two being a 1954 film and a 1966 film, and was also noted for being one of the first movies to cast actors of other nationalities. It was a moderate success, and was one of the more successful Indian-Soviet co-productions.
Aman next starred in the Feroz Khan directed film Qurbani, in which she starred with Khan and Vinod Khanna; she was cast as Sheela, a singer and dancer. The film was a major success at the box-office, and the soundtrack received particular praise. The song Aap Jaisa Koi, which had been sung by Nazia Hassan and picturised on Aman, won a Filmfare Award. Aman also starred as Sheetal in the film Dostana alongside Amitabh Bachchan. She was next cast as a rape victim seeking justice in B. R. Chopra’s Insaaf Ka Tarazu, which was one of few to focus on its storyline rather than its soundtrack. The film earned Aman her second nomination for the Filmfare Best Actress Award.
In 1981, Aman appeared in four films - she first starred as Sonia in Professor Pyarelal, as the heroine to Dharmendra, starred in the film Katilon Ke Kaatil as Jamila, and also appeared in the film Krodhi as Neera. Aman then starred in the film Laawaris alongside Amitabh Bachchan.
1982–1989: Later films and hitus
In 1982, Aman starred in the crime film Ashanti. In 1983, she starred in the film Mahaan as Rita, which was the first to feature a triple-role character. The film turned to be an above-average grosser. In the same year, she starred in the film Pukar as Julie, which had an average performance at the box office. The film has been remade in various recreations, including the 2000 adaptation, which also performed average the box-office. Also in 1983, she starred as Nisha Thakur in the film Hum Se Hai Zamana. In 1984, she starred in Jagir as the main heroine Sima, along Dharmendra, Mithun Chakraborty and Pran.
From 1985 to 1989, she appeared less frequently in films to focus more on her marriage with Mazhar Khan; her films in this period were critically and financially unsuccessful. She starred in the film Gawahi, a courtroom drama, which would be her last film role before making a temporary retirement from the film industry.
1999–2014: Comeback and career resurgence
After 10 years of being inactive in the industry, Aman appeared in a cameo role in the film Bhopal Express (1999). However, she didn't appear in another film until 2003, when she appeared as Alice in the film Boom. The film turned to drastically under-perform at the box-office, creating a set of financial problems for the film's crew, including the producer Ayesha Shroff.
In 2004, she appeared as Mrs. Robinson in the play The Graduate staged at St Andrew's auditorium in Mumbai. She had also made an appearance along with actress Hema Malini in the talk show Koffee with Karan, hosted by Karan Johar. Aman then had roles in the films Maksham (2005), Jaana... Let's Fall in Love (2006) as Raju's mother, and in Chaurahen which was released in 2012, but had originally been filmed and shelved in 2007. In 2008, Aman guest starred in the feature film Ugly Aur Pagli. In the year following, she starred in the film Geeta in Paradise (2009).
In 2008, Aman 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 the IIFA awards 2010 held at Colombo, Sri Lanka.
In 2010, Aman starred as Rebecca in the film Dunno Y... Na Jaane Kyon. The film was originally aired at film festivals nationwide, and drew an immense amount of controversy, being panned by critics for its gay stereotypes. However, the film achieved success through film festivals and later achieved a limited theatrical release. In the film, Aman performed the songs Aap Jaisa Koi and Chura Liya Hai Tumne Jo. It later spawned the sequel Dunno Y2... Life Is a Moment, released in 2014, which Aman had also starred in. In 2012, Aman was cast as Roma in the film Strings of Passion.
2015–present: Upcoming projects
Aman had roles in the films Dil Toh Deewana Hai (2016) and Sallu Ki Shaadi (2017). Sallu Ki Shaadi was made as a tribute to actor Salman Khan. In 2017, Aman was cast in the short-lived web series Love Life & Screw Ups, in which she played the main role of Joanna, a spinster with a drastic love life and personal problems, who frequently mingles with younger people. The show was featured in international film festivals, including a film festival in Poland, being the first Indian web series to be shown at a festival there. While the series received generally mixed reviews, Aman's performance was praised by critics.
In June 2019, Aman joined the cast of the film Panipat, where she portrayed the minor role of Sakina Begum, a character whom director Ashutosh Gowariker described as "a feisty character leading her province of Hoshiyarganj." It was released theatrically in December 2019, emerging as a box-office failure.
In February 2020, it was announced that Aman is staging a comeback in theatre, appearing in a play on Kasturba Gandhi. In January 2021, it was announced that she would star in the upcoming murder-mystery film Margaon: The Closed File, her first leading role since the 1980s. In the film, which is a tribute to Agatha Christie, Aman will portray the "head of an Anglo Indian family who is an independent woman, a mother as well as an entrepreneur."
In 1978, Aman married actor Sanjay Khan, which was annulled in 1979. Aman then married actor Mazhar Khan from 1985 to his death in 1998. She had two children with Mazhar Khan, and was married for a total of 13 years. Aman has two sons with Mazhar Khan; film director Azaan Khan, who directed the heist film Bankster, and composer Zahaan Khan. He has also made a cameo appearance in the 2000 film Gang. She lives with her sons, since Mazhar's death in 1998. In her marriage with Mazhar, Aman stated she was unhappy. She commented on her marriage with Mazhar Khan in 2014, telling Times of india:
Mazhar never wanted me to grow as an individual or as an artist. He always wanted me to be with the kids and be at home. During the very first year of marriage I realised I had made a huge mistake, but I decided to live by it and make it work. I tried to make it work for another 12 years. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for me. There was not a single moment of happiness or joy during those 12 years. But I still tried making it work.
In 1980, Aman was involved in an abuse incident where she'd been beaten by actor Sanjay Khan; she had received a phone call from Khan asking to discuss specifics for the film Abdullah. She met with him at the hotel he'd been staying at for the meeting, where she was beaten severely, resulting in many injuries after the incident. This had been witnessed by his wife, who had allegedly cheered him on to keep beating Aman. The incident caused a lazy eye to Aman, and she later stated that she pretends it never happened.
In February 2018, Aman filed a rape case against businessman Aman Khanna, better known as Sarfaraz. After stalking, harassing, and robbing Aman, as well as allegedly raping Aman various times, charges were pressed against Khanna in which he was then incarcerated. The incidents described were said to have taken place between 2011 and 2016.
Impact and accomplishments
Artistry and influence
Aman was initially met controversy with in her acting career for her often sexualization in a number of films, to which some critics and fans believed overshadowed her performances. Commenting on this, she told Hindustan Times: "I don't regret or feel bad about anything that happened or may not have happened. If I lost something, I gained something more. The fact that I can look back at my career with so much pride and happiness means I have had a good run without any complaints."
In March 2016, an exhibition created by artist Mina Siddique was launched in Dubai, which featured various works and arts in dedication to Aman, which was titled as Zeenat Aman, with the tagline "Redefining Beauty". The event was attended by Aman herself, as well as members from various countries, including UAE and Pakistan.
In April 2019, Bollywood Hungama listed Aman as one of the "10 Hottest Bollywood Actresses Of All Time". She has frequently been cited as the original sex symbol of Bollywood, and is notorious for her figure and looks. However, Aman has stated that she does not take the term seriously, and rather felt restricted by it.
Awards and honours
|1972||Filmfare Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Hare Rama Hare Krishna||Won|||
|1973||BFJA Awards||Best Actress||Won|||
|1979||Filmfare Awards||Best Actress||Satyam Shivam Sundaram||Nominated|||
|1981||Best Actress||Insaf Ka Tarazu||Nominated|||
|2016||Timeless Glamour & Style Icon||Herself||Won|||
- 2003 - Bollywood Awards 'Award for Lifetime Achievement' - Lifetime of Glamour.
- 2006 - "Outstanding Contribution to the Motion Picture Industry of India Awards" at the eighth annual Bollywood Movie Awards.
- 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
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