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Zeenat Aman (born as Zeenat Khan) is an Indian actress, former model and beauty queen who is best known for her work in Hindi films throughout the 1970s and 1980s. She is widely considered to be a very influential actress of Indian cinema, and known as one of the few inspirational figures that revolutionized Bollywood in all.

Zeenat Aman
Zeenat Aman at Esha Deol's wedding reception 12.jpg
Zeenat Aman at Esha Deol’s wedding reception
Born (1951-11-19) 19 November 1951 (age 67)
Alma materUniversity of Southern California, Los Angeles
OccupationActress, model
Years active1971–1989, 2003–present
TitleFemina Miss India Asia Pacific 1970
Miss Asia Pacific 1970
Sanjay Khan (m. 1978–1979)
Mazhar Khan
(m. 1985; died 1998)
Beauty pageant titleholder
Femina Miss India 1970
(Femina Miss India Asia Pacific 1970)
(Miss Photogenic)
Miss Asia Pacific 1970
(Miss Photogenic)

Zeenat was known for making a massive impact on the image of its leading actresses by introducing the modern look to Hindi cinema. She had opened the new door for all the other actresses and had been an inspiration for many other heroines.

Zeenat first started off in her career with beauty pageants, when she had only been 19. She won the Femina Miss India pageant in 1970. She has also won the Miss Asia Pacific International pageant as well (in the same year). She then went to act in Bollywood films after that, and first gained fame after starring in Dev Anand‘s Hare Rama Hare Krishna. She then went on to star in over 90 films, with her total career spanning almost 50 years[1].

She has received various awards, the most notable being two Filmfare nominations for Best Actress (in Satyam Shivam Sundaram and Insaf Ka Tarazu) and one Filmfare award for Best Supporting Actress (in Hare Rama Hare Krishna).


Early lifeEdit

Zeenat Aman at the Hop House of Party, Andheri

Zeenat Aman was born in Bombay in 1951 to a Muslim father and Hindu mother. 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,[2][3] was related to the Bhopal State ruling family. Her mother was Anglo-Indian and her father of Afghan descent. 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.[4]

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 careerEdit

Zeenat Aman at the Society Achievers Awards

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 brief role in Ralhan’s Hungama (1971) opposite Vinod Khanna, starring singer Kishore Kumar, Mehmood and Helen; 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.[5]

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[6] and BFJA Award for Best Actress.[7] 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.[5]

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,[8] a testimony to her popularity at the time.

The 1970sEdit

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.[5]

Aman's entry into Hollywood also backfired when Krishna Shah Shalimar (1978), co-starring Dharmendra, Shammi Kapoor and international names like Rex Harrison, John Saxon and Sylvia Miles, proved to be a failure in the United States and in India.[5]. 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.[9] 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 1980sEdit

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

The 1990s and 2000sEdit

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.

Her net worth in October 2018 was calculated to be 88 crores (equal to roughly $12,000,000 USD)[10].

Personal lifeEdit

Zeenat Aman at the Areopagus spa launch

Zeenat Aman went through two marriages, once with Sanjay Khan for a year, and once with Mazhar Khan, from 1985 to his death in 1998. In both, Zeenat stated she was unhappy[11].

Abuse incident by Sanjay Khan

Zeenat was aggressively beaten by Sanjay Khan[12]. There was reportedly a lengthy argument between the two after Zeenat received a phone call from Sanjay asking to discuss specifics for the film Abdullah. She then decided to meet him at the hotel he was staying at, where she was then taken into a separate room of the hotel as there was a private party going on at the time she arrived, and Zeenat was beaten, resulting in many injuries[13]. This had been seen by his wife, who had allegedly cheered him on to keep doing so[13]. It was not until the hotel's security intervened that the abuse stopped. Zeenat has stated that she pretends this incident never happened[14].

Awards and nominationsEdit

Zeenat Aman in 2011

Image and personaEdit

Zeenat Aman at BIG Awards Jury Press Meet

Zeenat Aman's persona was a contrast to many of the more conservative stars of the era.[5] 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. [18][5][19]


Year Film Role Notes
1970 The Evil Within
1971 Hungama
Hulchul Neena
Hare Rama Hare Krishna Jasbir Jaiswal/Janice Winner, Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award
1973 Yaadon Ki Baaraat Sunita
Heera Panna Panna
Dhund Rani Ranjit Singh
1974 Roti Kapada Aur Makaan Sheetal
Prem Shastra Barkha/Suman
Ishq Ishq Ishq Pooja Pahar
Manoranjan Nisha
Ajanabee Reshmi Kumar Saxena
1975 Warrant Rita Verma
Chori Mera Kaam Sharmili
1976 Deewaangee Kanchan
Balika Badhu Adult Rajni (uncredited) (voice)
1977 Paapi Rano/Vanita Kapoor/Rani
Kalabaaz Lisa/Radha G. Sapru/Tina
Dharam Veer Rajkumari Pallavi
Darling DarlingThe Evil Within'
Chhailla Babu Rita
Aashiq Hoon Baharon Ka Veera Rai
Hum Kisise Kum Naheen Sunita Kewalchand
1978 Shalimar Sheila Enders
Heeralal Pannalal Ruby
Chor Ke Ghar Chor
Satyam Shivam Sundaram Rupa
Don Roma
1979 The Great Gambler Shabnam
Gol Maal Guest Role
1980 Takkar Sapna
Ram Balram Madhu
Bombay 405 Miles Radha
Abdullah Zainab
Alibaba Aur 40 Chor Fatima
Qurbani Sheela rahul
Dostana Sheetal Sahni
Insaaf Ka Tarazu Bharti Saxena
1981 Professor Pyarelal Sonia B. Singh/Asha Rai
Katilon Ke Kaatil Jamila Banu
Krodhi Neera Kumar Sahni
Laawaris Mohini
1982 Samraat Suman/Sandhya Chawla/Gurbachan Singh
Jaanwar Rajkumari
Daulat Geeta
Ashanti Sonia
Gopichand Jasoos Bela/Lacho/Shano Rani
Vakil Babu Kalpana Choudhry/Kalpana Kumar
Teesri Aankh Barkha
1983 Taqdeer Nisha
Pukar Julie
Hum Se Hai Zamana Nisha Thakur
Mahaan Rita
Bandhan Kuchchey Dhaagon Ka Sneh
1984 Yeh Desh Sumati
Sohni Mahiwal Zarina
Jagir Seema
Meri Adalat
1985 Yaar Kasam
Bhawani Junction Reshma
Ameer Aadmi Gharib Aadmi Kavita
Yaadon Ki Kasam Chandni/Geeta Khanna
1986 Haathon Ki Lakeeren Geeta Mohan
Baat Ban Jaye Nisha Singh
1987 Daku Hasina Daku Hasina
1988 Namumkin
1989 Tujhe NahinChhodunga
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

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Zeenat Aman". IMDb. Retrieved 20 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Zeenat Aman seeks recognition as an actress". India Today. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  3. ^ "Birthday special: Zeenat Aman marriage controversy you did not know". Free Press Journal - Latest India News, Live Updates, Breaking news from Mumbai. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  4. ^ "35 couple tie the knot at mass marriage ceremony in Mumbai". 12 May 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Dinesh Raheja (12 November 2002). "The A to Z of Zeenat Aman". Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  6. ^ "1st Filmfare Awards 1953" (PDF). Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Protima's naked run: Cine Blitz Profile". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 30 July 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  9. ^ "Zeenat: I think Vijay is missing". Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  10. ^ aatir (3 October 2018). "Zeenat Aman Age, Height, Weight, Husband, Net Worth & Bio". CelebrityHow. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  11. ^ Garoo, Rohit (30 September 2016). "Zeenat Aman Marriage: The Troubled Love Life Of Bollywood's Original Diva". The Bridal Box. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  12. ^ Sharma, Anshika (22 December 2016). "When Sanjay Khan & His Wife Beat up Zeenat Aman: Revisiting Bollywood's Most Shameful Scandal". Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  13. ^ a b DelhiAugust 31, India Today Web Desk New; August 31, 2017UPDATED:; Ist, 2017 18:28. "Throwback Thursday: When Sanjay Khan beat up Zeenat Aman while his wife Zarine cheered him on". India Today. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  14. ^ "Zeenat Aman's troubled marriage". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  15. ^ Lakshman, Ganesh S. Bollywood Awards 2003 at Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ. Archived 23 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman To Be Honored At The Bollywood Awards". Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Rajesh Khanna, Zeenat Aman to be honoured". Press Trust of India
  18. ^ Gulzar; Nihalani, Govind; Chatterji, Saibal (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema. Popular Prakashan. p. 108. ISBN 81-7991-066-0.
  19. ^ "DesiClub's Bollywood Top 25: The Women". Retrieved 27 April 2010.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit