'There are things I would have done differently'


It is impossible to talk of Hindi cinema of the 1970s and 1980s without talking of Zeenat Aman . The Dum Maro Dum girl was a psychedelic dream for generations of movie-goers. The star, who says she doesn’t believe in nostalgia, shared the stage with Asha Parekh for the second edition of Rendezvous , a musical trip down memory lane, in Bengaluru on Saturday. In this free-wheeling chat with Mini Anthikad-Chhibber , the 64-year-old star of blockbusters such as Yaadon Ki Baarat and Qurbani talks about everything from heavy metal to settling down.

Did you imagine when you played Janice, that you would set the template for the edgy, Western character in Hindi cinema?

Not at all! Earlier, heroines were either black or white. Either she was the vamp, wearing Western clothes, smoking a cigarette and drinking whisky or she was good, wearing a sari and crying copious tears. The characters I played had shades of grey. Whether it was Sheetal in Roti Kapda aur Makaan who chose the rich man over her unemployed boyfriend; the disenchanted drug addict Janice of Hare Rama Hare Krishna; Nisha, the jolly call girl of Manoranjan; the vengeful Roma from Don; Panna who wasn’t the main heroine in Heera Panna, but the film revolved around her; I didn’t realize it at that time but when I look back at my body of work, apart from the regular masala films, there were these roles that pushed the envelope.

Did you enjoy the acting or the stardom?

I got into films by accident. Hare Rama Hare Krishna was a huge hit and then I had to live up to the expectations created by it. I was working very hard. It was almost as if I had blinkers on. I was doing movies back to back. It was very hard work but I was working with wonderful people who were all at the top of their game — directors such as Dev Anand, Raj Kapoor, Nasir Hussain, Manmohan Desai and Prakash Mehra and actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna and Dharmendra.

Did you ever feel exploited in your career?

You know, at that time, when I was doing it, it was just work and I didn’t feel exploited. But now, looking back, in hindsight, I think there are things I would have done differently.

Manoranjan (1974) received a lot of flak for its ambiguous moralities.

Gosh! That was a long time ago! Manoranjan was Shammiji’s directorial debut. I had always looked at Shammi Kapoor as this iconic star. There was a lot of excitement on the set. It was a light-hearted film.

Are there any films you wish you had done?

Let me see… there were movies that I didn’t do for a variety of reasons, which went on to become huge successes. For instance, I was offered Parveen’s [Babi] role in Amar Akbar Anthony. It worked the other way too, roles offered to Parveen came to me when she went away. It all evens out.

In your body of work, do you have a favourite?

There are so many that are special to me — Hare Rama Hare Krishna, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Yaadon Ki Baarat

After Kaizad Gustad’s Boom in 2003, you have appeared in films on and off. What are your criteria for choosing films?

If the role is interesting and I have the time, I go with it.

Are there interesting roles for actors your age?

They are few and far between. Whether it is me, or Shabana [Azmi] or Hemaji [Hema Malini], interesting roles are a rare exception.

What do you feel is the difference between actors then and now?

Well, for one the pay cheques are larger! (laughs). Things have changed for the better with personalised vanity trailers, the whole corporate ethos, the facilities are much better. But I have no regrets.

What kind of music do you listen to?

When you have young people in the house, you get to listen to all kinds of music. It depends on my mood. I listen to jazz, Western classical, contemporary, Bollywood and heavy metal.

When are you in a heavy metal frame of mind?

I listen to heavy metal thanks to my son. When I argue with him on the kind of music he is listening to, he says, ‘listen to it’. I listen and think well that is not so bad!

How tech-savvy are you?

I am comfortable with technology. I am a private person and would rather not be on Twitter or Facebook.

When we spoke earlier, there was a mention of an autobiography… what is happening on that score?

Let me clarify, I had offers for an autobiography. I considered it and then decided not to go ahead. I was not motivated to share.

You have been quoted as saying you are ready for a relationship…

What I said was I am open to settling down once my boys are settled.

Is there anyone special?

I would rather not talk about it.

Your son, Azaan Khan, is making his directorial debut. Do you advise him?

Oh no! Young people these days are pretty clued in on what they want. Azaan studied film-making in the U.K. The movie is a heist film and is in post-production.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 9:57:36 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/zeenat-aman-tells-everything-from-heavy-metal-to-settling-down/article7625948.ece

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