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Mirror, mirror on the wall

After films and theatre, Zeenat Aman is now working on her autobiography

Zeenat Aman: all set to release her autobiography

"HEY, I have growing kids, so the autobiography is not going to be `no holds barred'," Zeenat Aman says with her trademark smile. "It will be honest," she clarifies, and who better than Zeenat to talk about the changing face of Indian cinema?

Zeenat burst on the national scene like a psychedelic dream as Janice in Dev Anand's Hare Rama Hare Krishna and the star aura has not dimmed even a wee bit. So did she or did she not floor Dev Anand with the way she lit his cigarette? "I do not remember lighting Dev Saab's cigarette. I must have been very casually lighting one and perhaps that gave Dev Saab his Janice!" For all who have wondered how much Zeenat contributed to the flower child persona of Janice, she says: "It was my first film and I was new to the craft of celluloid. I had studied abroad though and knew about the hippie culture, which I brought into the role and there was also Dev Saab's conception of it."

While now we have designers styling the look of films, Zeenat held the populace enthralled with a signature style. "I suppose my directors felt I looked best as me! And talking of designers, I worked with one of the best, the Academy award winning Bhanu Athaiya. We would work out different styles. Like my look in Shalimar where I play a nurse, which is different from how I appear in Ali Baba Chalis Chor."

Zeenat typified a particular kind of heroine — the convent educated memsahib who seems to have died out with her. About the new breed of "bold" films, she says, "You know, cinema is this cyclical thing and each era has its stars who typify the age." Zeenat will be on stage this August in an Indian adaptation of The Graduate where she plays Mrs. Robinson. "I did not want to see the film because I thought Anne Bancroft's interpretation of Mrs. Robinson would influence mine. But the director convinced me to watch it. She was incredible!"

Zeenat says the seduction scene "has been very cleverly done, come to Mumbai and see for yourself!" Though The Graduate is Zeenat's second theatre assignment after last year's Chupke, Chupke, cinema continues to be her "first love."

"There is a big difference in sensibilities. There are no retakes or cuts in theatre. In cinema you have to be patient. A shot may not be completed in one day and you would have to carry on the sensibility till it is completed. Cinema calls for subtlety as opposed to the exaggeration of theatre."

After Kaizad Gustad's Boom where Zeenat played Amitabh Bachchan's secretary, Alice, she is to appear in a Malayalam film Moksham, directed by Rajiv Nath, where she dons the role of a part Indian, part Russian anthropologist.

Apart from effortlessly being the goddess of oomph, Zeenat is a doting mom. "My elder son has finished school and is studying in the U.K. He is interested in films and I believe parents should support whatever their children want to do."

Zeenat has exciting things lined up, from movies to theatre and the autobiography, which promises to be a path-breaker like everything else about her.


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