Zeenat Aman

Zeenat Aman
Zeenat Aman, image credit: Bollywood Hungama

Born - November 19, 1951 in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Nickname - Babushka

Occupation - Actress, Model

Nationality - Indian

Years Active - 1971-1989

Height - 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Spouse(s) - Mazhar Khan (m. 1985 - death 1998)

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 the distinguish roles.

Zeenat Aman was born in Bombay in 1951 to a Hindu mother and Muslim father. Her mother, Scinda Vardhini Karvaste, is from Maharashtra and is the cousin of actor Raza Murad and niece of actor Murad. Her father, Amanullah Khan, was related to the Bhopal State ruling family. He was a script writer for such movies 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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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, a testimony to her popularity at the time.

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.

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. Aman continued to act in hits such as "Dharam Veer", "Chhailla Babu" and "The Great Gambler".

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

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.


Year Movie Role Notes
 1971   Hungama    
1971  Hulchul  Neena  
1971  Hare Rama Hare Krishna  Jasbir Jaiswal/Janice  Winner, Filmfare Best
 Supporting Actress Award
1973  Yaadon Ki Baaraat  Sunita  
1973  Heera Panna  Panna  
1973  Dhund  Rani Ranjit Singh  
1974  Roti Kapada Aur Makaan  Sheetal  
1974  Prem Shastra  Barkha/Suman  
1974  Ishq Ishq Ishq  Pooja Pahar  
1974  Manoranjan  Nisha  
1974  Ajanabee  Reshmi Kumar Saxena  
1975  Warrant  Rita Verma  
1975  Chori Mera Kaam  Sharmili  
1976  Deewaangee  Kanchan  
1976  Balika Badhu  Adult Rajni  (uncredited) (voice)
1977  Paapi  Rano/Vanita Kapoor/Rani  
1977  Kalabaaz  Lisa/Radha G. Sapru/Tina  
1977  Dharam Veer  Rajkumari Pallavi  
1977  Darling Darling    
1977  Chhailla Babu  Rita  
1977  Aashiq Hoon Baharon Ka  Veera Rai  
1977  Hum Kisise Kum Naheen  Sunita Kewalchand  
1978  Shalimar  Sheila Enders  
1978  Heeralal Pannalal  Ruby  
1978  Chor Ke Ghar Chor    
1978  Satyam Shivam Sundaram  Rupa  
1978  Don  Roma  
1979  The Great Gambler  Shabnam  
1980  Takkar  Sapna  
1980  Ram Balram  Madhu  
1980  Bombay 405 Miles  Radha  
1980  Abdullah  Zainab  
1980  Alibaba Aur 40 Chor  Fatima  
1980  Qurbani  Sheela  
1980  Dostana  Sheetal Sahni  
1980  Insaaf Ka Tarazu  Bharti Saxena  
1981  Professor Pyarelal  Sonia B. Singh/Asha Rai  
1981  Katilon Ke Kaatil  Jamila Banu  
1981  Krodhi  Neera Kumar Sahni  
1981  Laawaris  Mohini  
1982  Samraat  Suman/Sandhya Chawla/
 Gurbachan Singh
1982  Pyaas    
1982  Jaanwar  Rajkumari  
1982  Daulat  Geeta  
1982  Ashanti  Sonia  
1982  Gopichand Jasoos  Bela/Lacho/Shano Rani  
1982  Vakil Babu  Kalpana Choudhry/
 Kalpana Kumar
1982  Teesri Aankh  Barkha  
1983  Taqdeer  Nisha  
1983  Pukar  Julie  
 1983   Hum Se Hai Zamana  Nisha Thakur  
1983  Mahaan  Rita  
1983  Bandhan Kuchchey Dhaagon Ka  Sneh  
1984  Yeh Desh  Sumati  
1984  Sohni Mahiwal  Zarina  
1984  Pakhandi    
1984  Jagir  Seema  
1984  Meri Adalat    
1985  Yaar Kasam    
1985  Bhawani Junction  Reshma  
1985  Ameer Aadmi Gharib Aadmi  Kavita  
1985  Yaadon Ki Kasam  Chandni/Geeta Khanna  
1986  Haathon Ki Lakeeren  Geeta Mohan  
1986  Baat Ban Jaye  Nisha Singh  
1986  Aurat    
1987  Daku Hasina  Daku Hasina  
1988  Namumkin    
1989  Tujhe Nahin Chhodunga    
1989  Gawahi    
1999  Bhopal Express  Zohrabai  
2003  Boom  Alice Rodriguez De Fonseca  
 2006   Jaana: Let's Fall in Love  Raju's mother  
2007  Sirf Romance: Love by Chance  Durga Putri  
2008  Ugly Aur Pagli  Special Appearance  
2010  Dunno Y... Na Jaane Kyon  Rebecca  
2014  Strings of Passion    

Awards and Recognitions

  • 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
  • 2006 - Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 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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