Zeenat Aman was born to a Hindu mother and a Muslim father Amanullah who was one of the writers for the classic “Mughal-e-Azam”, on November 19th, 1951. Zeenat was an only child and her parents divorced when she was a little girl. A graduate of Saint Xavier’s school in Bombay. Her father passed away when she was 13. Zeenat won a scholarship to study in California. Upon her return she started working as reporter and was introduced to modeling by friends. Her most prominent ad campaign was the Pond’s 7 day to better complexion. Zeenat entered the Miss India contest and was the third runner up, to go to Miss Asia/Pacific a title she later won – being the first Indian to ever win that title (the same title was brought to Indian a second time in 2000 by Diya Mirza).
Zeenat was introduced to the movie screen by O.P. Ralhan in Hulchul with Kabir Bedi and later repeated by again by Ralhan in a cameo in Hungama. Both films sunk without trace. Zeenat was the third choice for the junkie ‘Janice/Jasbeel’ character in Dev Anand’s ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’, (1971) opposite himself and the then reigning queen Mumtaz. Upon completion of shooting, Zeenat began packing bags to move to Malta with her mother and German step father (Mr Heinz) for his job posting. When Dev Anand received feedback on rushes for the film, he insisted that Zeenat and her parents hold off on the move until the film is released and its fate decided, with reluctance they agreed. The film was an instant hit and Zeenat walked away with all the accolades shunning Mumtaz – never before had the Hindi cinema seen a newcomer overshadow the reigning queen. She won the Filmfare Award as Best Supporting Actress. For the first time, the Indian audience accepted a woman who played a ‘less than pure’ role in a movie.