When Dev Anand first wrote the script for his movie Hare Rama Hare Krishna, the actor had a tough time narrowing down on an actress who would essay his sister on screen rather than a love-interest. To play the role of Janice, a free-spirited, marijuana-smoking hippie who’d dance to Dum Maaro Dum.., Anand was searching for someone ‘Indian in looks but Western in upbringing’. Who’d have known that a chance meeting at a party with the newly crowned Miss Asia Pacific of the time would not only give him his Janice but also one of the most versatile, and daring actresses that Bollywood has ever seen.
Zeenat Aman may have started her career with a 1971 film Hungama, but the actress shot to fame in Hare Rama Hare Krishna. Post that, the actress walked on the road of success, starring in blockbuster films like Yaadon Ki Baarat, Heera Panna, Dharam Veer, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, and Don among others. “I started off in 1971, and I am so grateful for this wonderful journey. You tend to take your journey for granted after a while, but when I pause and look back, I feel blessed that I had so many opportunities. I am still alive and kicking it and that’s a blessing,” says Aman, who’s clocking 48 years into the industry this year.
In the ’70s and the ’80s, when the heroines on-screen were heralding Indian morality, Amaan broke away from the convention. Whether it was baring it in swimsuits, or playing grey roles, Aman is noted to have been ahead of her time. “I get this quite often. People do tell me, even now, that I have been ahead of my time in terms of fashion and choosing scripts, but it was all not planned. It just happened and I am happy about it.
You just go with the flow, do what you like the most and your taste reflects your personality,” she says.
And there seems to be no stopping for the 67-year-old actress, as she will be next seen next in Ashutosh Gowariker’s historical drama Panipat, which also stars Arjun Kapoor, Kriti Sanon, and Sanjay Dutt.
Talking about it, the actress reveals that she was elated to have been offered a role in the director’s movie, and further adds, “I am just doing a cameo in the film, but it was fun to work with such energetic people.”
The veteran actress further acknowledges that the fact that she’s still getting roles signify a wave of change in Bollywood. “I think it’s wonderful to see how scripts are being written for actresses of my age. It’s a change that we all have been waiting for. It’s a great shift if women are being given opportunities to play strong and relevant parts that reflect the changes in our society. It’s wonderful and necessary.”
However, Aman is also witnessing the cons of changing times. “In those days, we didn’t promote ourselves, we just did our work. It was a different time, there were no mobile phones, no entertainment at your fingertips, no digital platforms, and all these things were not there,” she says before adding that people used to just wait to go to movie theatres to watch their favourite stars on big screens.
“Now, it is all about promotions, and I am completely on a back foot. I did survive without promotions but now it is difficult for the younger generation,” she adds.
Unlike the actresses of her time, the current batch of actresses is no more hesitant to speak up about their rights. Talking about the Me Too movement that has gripped the movie industry, the Don actress says, “I think it’s important for women to speak up, it’s important to speak up for their rights. It’s very essential, and as a woman, I feel good to see that the young women are now opening up. All women, across the world in fact, and I am very pro-women.”
Although when asked is she is a feminist, Aman replies, “I am not a feminist, I am a humanist. I want whoever is right to win.”...