Zeenat Aman

- Vikram Chandiramani 

Zeenat Aman had won the Miss India contest and modelled quite a bit when she was signed by Dev Anand who was looking for a westernised girl for his 'Hare Rama Hare Krishna' (1971). Zeenat swayed to the music and became known as the 'Dum Maro Dum' girl, as the producers fell all over themselves to sign the uninhibited girl for their films.

'Yaadon Ki Baraat' and 'Dhund' (1973) and other films of this period, were successful at the box- office but Zeenie baby, as the media dubbed her, was considered only a showpiece. She happily signed Manoj Kumar's 'Roti Kapda Aur Makaan' (1974) but again, she was the glamourous angle. When she heard that Raj Kapoor was making 'Satyam Shivam Sundaram', (1978) Zeenat got herself made-up as a village belle one side of whose face is burnt, and dropped in on the maker! She got the film. Raj Kapoor promised that Zeenat was a 'volcano of talent' which would erupt in this film. Nothing like this happened though viewers and voyeurs got to feast their eyes on her. But she got a lease of life and signed several more films. 'Don' (1978), 'Ram Balram' (1978) 'Shalimar' and 'Daku Hasina' ( with Rakesh Roshan) were some of them.

After the briefest turbulent marriage with Sanjay Khan which ended after Sanjay brutally assaulted her in a 5-star hotel, she tried picking up threads of her career and even gave memorable performances in 'Insaaf Ka Tarazu' (1980), 'Qurbaani' (1981), before settling down in marriage with character actor Mazhar Khan. She did a tele-film 'Gawahi', though, she kept away from acting but supported Mazhar Khan in making 'Gang'.

Unfortunately, Mazhar fell seriously ill and they opted for a stormy divorce. The storm was over her clandestine affair with a man half her age, and after divorce she started living with this man.

Zeenat even called a press conference to show the bruises she had got from Mazhar and her in-laws during the unpleasentness, to the world. Even as the dirty linen was being washed in public, Mazhar died. Zeenat is now trying to make a comeback as a character artiste.

Zeenat Aman worked with Rajesh Khanna after decades in a movie called 'Jaana' produced by Shahrukh Mirza which was compared to 'Baghban' while it was being made but 'Jaana', a mediocre film sank without a trace.