MUMBAI—That she remains a trendsetter is doubtless. Zeenat Aman, 69, has spent over 50 years in cinema. Winner of the Femina Miss India pageant and the Miss Asia Pacific International pageant in 1970, Aman, daughter of screenwriter Aman (“Mughal-E-Azam”) and a Maharashtrian Hindu mother, first appeared in the international film “The Evil Within” (1970) opposite Dev Anand, but the film never released in India.
In India, her maiden releases were “Hulchul” (1971) in a small role opposite Prem Chopra and in “Hungama,” the ensemble comedy opposite Vinod Khanna. 50 years down, not only does she remain the most dazzling of the beauties to come from the ramp, and that much more significant but also scores higher than Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Priyanka Chopra Jonas in her contribution to Hindi cinema.
Here are 5 iconic roles that she has done, and very interestingly indeed, four of the films were directed by top actors!
Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1972 / Dev Anand)
Though in a gray role as a hippie, Aman changed forever the concept of the Hindi film heroine’s all Indian demure avatar. She stunned with her uninhibited performance and bagged the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress award.
Manoranjan (1974 / Shammi Kapoor)
As the streetwalker in this desi version of Billy Wilder’s “Irma La Douce,” Aman was literally full of abandon and verve, etching a memorable lead despite the fact that the film bombed.
Roti Kapada Aur Makaan (1974 / Manoj Kumar)
As the absolute gold-digger, Aman vowed in another superlative performance as she ruthlessly discards Manoj Kumar for the rich Shashi Kapoor.
Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978 / Raj Kapoor)
She was signed for Raj Kapoor’s dream subject—a bold allegory on inner beauty. It was a landmark role and Aman conveyed the perfect mix of erotica and innocence needed.
Insaf Ka Tarazu (1980 / B.R. Chopra)
As the rape victim, Aman was in top gear in this hard-hitting social by B.R. Chopra. The fact that her younger sister also had the same tormentor saw Aman go tooth and nail at the rapist.
6 Iconic Songs
“Dum Maro Dum” (Hare Rama Hare Krishna / Anand Bakshi / R.D. Burman / Asha Bhosle)
“Chura Liya Hai Tumne” (“Yaadon Ki Baaraat” (Majrooh / R.D. Burman / Asha Bhosle with Mohammed Rafi)
“Haaye Haaye Yeh Majboori” (Roti Kapada Aur Makaan / Verma Malik / Laxmikant-Pyarelal / Lata Mangeshkar)
“Satyam Shivam Sundaram” (Satyam Shivam Sundaram / Pt. Narendra Sharma / Lata Mangeshkar)
“Laila O Laila” (Qurbani / Indeevar / Kalyanji-Anandji / Kanchan with Amit Kumar)
“Aap Jaisa Koi” (Qurbani / Indeevar / Bidddu / Nazia Hassan)