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Zeenat Aman (born as Zeenat Khan) is an Indian actress, former model and beauty queen, who is best recognized for her work in Bollywood films, and is widely considered to be a highly influential actress in Indian cinema. She was one of the highest paid actresses throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, with her career spanning nearly fifty years. She has received a wide variety of awards throughout her film career, including winning a Filmfare award for her role as Jasbir/Janice in Hare Rama Hare Krishna, and being nominated for two Filmfare awards for her roles as Roopa in Satyam Shivam Sundaram, and as Bharti in Insaf Ka Tarazu.

Zeenat Aman
Zeenat Aman at the Society Achievers Awards 2018 (cropped).jpg
Zeenat Aman in 2018
Zeenat Khan

(1951-11-19) 19 November 1951 (age 67)
Alma materUniversity of Southern California, Los Angeles
OccupationActress, model
Years active1971–1989, 1999–present
Height5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
TitleFemina Miss India Asia Pacific 1970
Miss Asia Pacific 1970
Sanjay Khan
(m. 1978; annulled 1979)

Mazhar Khan
(m. 1985; died 1998)
  • Amanullah Khan (father)
  • Scinda Khan (mother)

At a young age, Zeenat began her professional career as a short-lived journalist for Femina magazine. Shortly after, she began to take up modelling, endorsing various brands and products, such as Taj Mahal Tea. At the age of 19, she then went on to participate in beauty pageants following her success with modelling. She won both the Femina Miss India pageant amd the Miss Asia Pacific International pageant in 1970, and was internationally acclaimed for her wins.

Zeenat then began her film career making appearances in minor films, her first films being The Evil Within, Hungama, and Hulchul, all of which were box office flops. On the verge of quitting and moving from India, it wasn’t until 1971 when Zeenat was approached by Dev Anand to star in his self-directed movie Hare Rama Hare Krishna that she made her official debut as an actress. The film had brought her much fame, and her performance was critically praised. Throughout the majority of her career, Zeenat became known for being one of the few to play more bold and controversial roles in Bollywood, breaking the traditional taboo and revolutionizing the Bollywood industry, alongside other actresses such as Rekha and Parveen Babi.

Early lifeEdit

Zeenat Aman was born in Bombay in 1951. 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,[1][2] was related to the Bhopal State ruling family. Her mother was Brahmin Maharashtrian 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.[3]

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

Early career and modeling (1960–1969)Edit

Zeenat studied in Los Angeles from early on, and eventually began her career by starting off as a journalist, writing for Femina magazine. It was a short-lived occupation, and she later went on to try modelling - she modelled for various major/minor brands, and later on went to partake in beauty pageants. In 1970, Zeenat participated in the Femina Miss India pagaent, and ended up to be the winner of it. Much fame was brought to her after her win, and she had appeared in a few more beauty pagaents following. She won the Miss Asia Pacific International pageant in the same year, and her modelling career had taken off.

Early acting, debut and stardom (1970–1979)Edit

Following her 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. However, she changed her mind when Dev Anand approached Zeenat to star in his movie, after he offered Zaheeda (his second heroine in Prem Pujari) the role of his sister in Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), which Zaheeda rejected due to Zaheeda wanting the lead female part (which was eventually played by Mumtaz). Zeenat had been chosen as a last-minute replacement.[4] In Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Zeenat Aman, aided by the R. D. Burman song Dum Maro Dum, she won over the hearts of the audience as Jasbir/Janice. She earned a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award[5] and BFJA Award for Best Actress.[6]

Following the success of the film, Aman and Dev Anand had worked together in quite a few films; they starred together in films like Heera Panna (1973), Ishq Ishq Ishq (1974), Prem Shastra (1974), Warrant (1975), Darling Darling (1977) and Kalabaaz (1977). Of these, Warrant turned to be the biggest hit at the box-office.

In 1973, Aman starred in Yaadon Ki Baaraat as Sunita. The film was idolized and marked as a classic, and Aman became known at the time as the girl carrying a guitar, for her performance in the segment Churaliya hai tumne jo dil ko (in Asha Bhosle's voice), winning her an immense amount of popularity, and thus winning the hearts of millions of fans.[4] Zeenat then went on to appear in many Hindi film magazine covers during the 1970s. In December 1974, Cine Blitz magazine was launched with Zeenat Aman on its cover,[7] adding to her popularity and verifying her credibility at the time.

In her career and her success with Navketan Films and Dev Anand, she 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 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 earned a Filmfare nomination as Best Actress for this film.[4]

Aman then attempted to make an entry into Hollywood, backfiring when Krishna Shah's 1978 Shalimar, co-starring Dharmendra, Shammi Kapoor and international names like Rex Harrison, John Saxon and Sylvia Miles, proved to be a box-office bomb in both the United States and in India.[4] Aman’s success around the time wavered, with negative revies of Shalimar along with the discouraging controversies of Satyam Shivam Sundaram, but Aman was able to bounce back, starring in many successful commercial films throughout the rest of the year, sucb as Heeralal Pannalal and Chor Ke Ghar Chor. In that same year, Zeenat went to star as Roma in Don. Her reasons for accepting the role in Don were altruistic, and refused to take remuneration for it due to wanting to help the producer of the film, Nariman Irani, who was losing money and eventually died midway through filming.[8] The film was a commercial success, and highly influential throughout Bollywood. Her role characterized as a Westernized revenge-seeking action heroine helped contribute to the film's huge success, and her fans and success had surfaced once again with her. Westernized heroines such as Parveen Babi, Tina Munim and Rekha followed in her footsteps, playing bold roles just like she had done. Aman continued to act in more box-office throughout the 70s, a few being Dharam Veer, Chhailla Babu and The Great Gambler.

Further acting, major successes and temporary retirement (1980–1989)Edit

By the beginning of the 1980s, multi-starrer films became a trend, and Aman was increasingly asked to provide sex appeal in hero-oriented films. However, in contrast, she instead was casted 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 much more success, starring in box-office hits Qurbani (1980), Alibaba Aur 40 Chor (1980), Dostana (1980) and Lawaaris (1981).[4] The films were deemed classics, and Zeenat gained international recognition for her successes.

Her last role as the female heroine was in the movie Gawahi, a courtroom drama in 1989. She then made a temporary retirement from the film industry to focus more on her marriage with Mazhar Khan.

Comeback, further acting, and Panipat (1999–present)Edit

After 10 years, Zeenat came back to the silver screen doing a cameo role in the film Bhopal Express (1999). Aman then 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.

In 2019, it was announced that Zeenat will join the main cast of upcoming film Panipat as Sakina Begun, alongside Sanjay Dutt, Kriti Sanon, Arjun Kapoor and Padmini Kolhapure.

Personal lifeEdit

Zeenat Aman went through two marriages, one with Sanjay Khan for a year, and one with Mazhar Khan, from 1985 to his death in 1998. She had two children with Mazhar and was in a relationship for 13 years. It was said that both Mazhar and Sanjay Khan were abusive. In both of these marriages, Zeenat stated she was unhappy[9].

It was reported that Zeenat was aggressively beaten by Sanjay Khan[10]. 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[11]. This had been seen by his wife, who had allegedly cheered him on to keep doing so[11]. This incident was the cause of damage in one of her eyes, leading to a lazy eye. It was not until the hotel's security intervened that the abuse stopped. Zeenat has stated that she pretends this incident never happened[12].

Awards and nominationsEdit

Zeenat Aman awards and nominations
  1. ^ Certain award groups do not simply award one winner. They recognize several different recipients, have runners-up and have third place. Since this is a specific recognition and is different from losing an award, runner-up mentions are considered wins in this award tally. Awards in certain categories do not have prior nominations and only winners are announced by the jury. For simplification and to avoid errors, each award in this list has been presumed to have had a prior nomination.

Filmfare AwardsEdit

BFJA AwardsEdit

IIFA AwardsEdit

  • 2010 - "Outstanding Contribution to Indian cinema" at the 11th IIFA awards
  • 2011 - "Best Contribution to Indian cinema" at the 11th IIFA awards

Beauty pagaentsEdit

Other awardsEdit

  • 2003 - Bollywood Awards 'Award for Lifetime Achievement'- Lifetime of Glamour.[13]
  • 2006 - "Outstanding Contribution to the Motion Picture Industry of India Awards" at the eighth annual Bollywood Movie Awards.[14][15]
  • 2008 - Zee Cine Award for Lifetime Achievement
  • 2018 - Society Achievers Award -Lifetime Achievement

Style and influenceEdit

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.[4] 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.[16][4][17]


Selected filmographyEdit

  Denotes films that have not yet been released
Year Film Role Notes
1971 Hare Rama Hare Krishna Jasbir/Janice Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress
1973 Yaadon Ki Baaraat Sunita
1974 Roti Kapda Aur Makaan Sheetal
1974 Ajanabee Reshmi Kumar Saxena
1977 Dharam Veer Rajkumari Pallavi
1977 Hum Kisise Kum Naheen Sunita Kewalchand
1978 Satyam Shivam Sundaram Roopa Filmfare Nomination for Best Actress
1978 Don Roma
1979 The Great Gambler Shabnam
1980 Abdullah Zainab
1980 Alibaba Aur 40 Chor Fatima
1980 Qurbani Sheela
1980 Dostana Sheetal
1980 Insaf Ka Tarazu Bharti Saxena Filmfare Nomination for Best Actress
1981 Laawaris Mohini
2019 Panipat  Sakeena Begum Post production

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Zeenat Aman seeks recognition as an actress". India Today. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  2. ^ "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.
  3. ^ "35 couple tie the knot at mass marriage ceremony in Mumbai". 12 May 2014. Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Dinesh Raheja (12 November 2002). "The A to Z of Zeenat Aman". Retrieved 14 January 2011.
  5. ^ "1st Filmfare Awards 1953" (PDF). Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  6. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 December 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. ^ "Protima's naked run: Cine Blitz Profile". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 30 July 2014. Retrieved 30 July 2014.
  8. ^ "Zeenat: I think Vijay is missing". Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  9. ^ Garoo, Rohit (30 September 2016). "Zeenat Aman Marriage: The Troubled Love Life Of Bollywood's Original Diva". The Bridal Box. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  10. ^ Sharma, Anshika (22 December 2016). "When Sanjay Khan & His Wife Beat up Zeenat Aman: Revisiting Bollywood's Most Shameful Scandal". Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  11. ^ 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.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  12. ^ "Zeenat Aman's troubled marriage". The Times of India. Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  13. ^ Lakshman, Ganesh S. Bollywood Awards 2003 at Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ. Archived 23 November 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Rajesh Khanna and Zeenat Aman To Be Honored At The Bollywood Awards". Retrieved 29 November 2018.
  15. ^ "Rajesh Khanna, Zeenat Aman to be honoured". Press Trust of India
  16. ^ Gulzar; Nihalani, Govind; Chatterji, Saibal (2003). Encyclopaedia of Hindi Cinema. Popular Prakashan. p. 108. ISBN 81-7991-066-0.
  17. ^ "DesiClub's Bollywood Top 25: The Women". Retrieved 27 April 2010.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit