Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Zeenat Aman - My favorite Songs

Zeenat burst into the film scene in 1970s. She was not the first glamorous heroine of our times. We have seen many of those.  But there were none who were as free spirited as her. Look at the picture above.  She is wearing a simple kurta, hoop earrings and her hair is let loose to cascade down her shoulders.  There is no pancake makeup, heavy earrings and no designer dress.  Zeenat exemplified Casual, be it in her dress, demeanor or make-up. I can't pin-point when the bouffant died, but I am pretty sure Zeenat was one of the ladies responsible for its death.

I am not a film historian, but I do feel that Zeenat also blurred the lines between the heroine and the vamp. Previously, it was the heroine who was the Good Girl and the Vamp the bad one in sexy clothes. Zeenat staked the claim of being a Good Girl in sexy clothes.  She did not bother to change into a demure saree in the 8th reel.

I have picked 13 songs performed by Zeenat that I like.   I thank Harvey for helping me select the songs and also help with the write up. Originally we had selected twelve but then Harvey reminded me of a lovely song from Darling Darling which I wanted in without dislodging the others. Hence we agreed to make it 13 (Baker's dozen - as Harvey reminded me).

The visuals had to match the catchy lyrics and Zeenat had to be the focus. Harvey and I mostly concurred with each others' choices.  He did not like the Warrant song, but I insisted.  I had to have a song with Zeenat dressed up as a Punjaban. I bowed to the Heeralal Pannalal song despite disliking Premnath's headgear, it overshadows everything else.  We auditioned several of the Satyam Shivam Sundaram songs but dumped them all because we cannot stand Zeenat mincing around in that fashion.  After the 1980, we could not recall any nice songs sung by Zeenat in which she was being, well.. Zeenat, so that is where our selection ended.

These songs are in the order of Zeenat's filmography so that no more scuffles break out between Harvey and me over the greater and lesser favorites.

1. Dum Maro Dum
Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971)

I was a pre-teen when I saw Zeenat in Hare Rama Hare Krishna.  It was such an exotic story, an estranged brother and sister meet in Nepal where the sister is part of a Hippie gang.  Zeenat wore light pink shades, hoop earrings and let her hair flow naturally to her shoulders. (We used to call it the Shoulder-Cut- *eyeroll*). No wonder I have such a fascination for hoops and Pink Eyeglasses.

This song gets everything right. A big crowd of Hippies puffing on the chillum, the psychedelic beats of the song (the best part, I feel), Zeenat swaying away, random couples dancing and playing the guitar and an anxious Dev Anand watching it all. R.D. rules and Zeenie Baby rocks!

2. Chura liya hai tumne jo dil ko
Yadon Ki Baraat (1973)

Zeenat was not a very good actress.  Her diction was deplorable.  It is hard to believe that the was the daughter of the Amanullah Khan who co-wrote Mughal-e-Azam and Pakeezah.  The man who gave us such wonderful dialogues in chaste Urdu could not even influence the way his daughter spoke.  But then, Amanullah died when Zeenat was just 13.  Her mother remarried with a German. Zeenat went to California to study.  All this, I suppose, gave her westernized mannerisms and accent.

Yet, she looked like a million dollars.  Just when the world was changing and filmmakers wanted actresses who wore trendy clothes, Zeenat landed on the scene.

Everything about this song from Yadon Ki Baraat is perfect too.  The fancy party, Zeenat's dress, a lovely song.  Zeenat makes Vijay Arora look good by pairing with him.  R.D. Rules and Zeenie Rocks!

Extra Song:

There was another great song in this movie, if you can tolerate Tariq for a bit, you will soon get to Zeenie rocking the stage in 'lal kapde'. What gorgeous 'lal kapde'. Even today any girl would be glad to get into that red mini dress and those red high boots. Zeenat makes even Tariq look good just by standing with him.

3. Panna ki Tamanna
Heera Panna (1973)

Dev Anand was Zeenat's mentor.  Zeenat was disappointed with her flailing film career post Hulchul and Hungama and ready to pack her bags and go back to live with her parents. She landed the role of Janice in Hare Rama Hare Krishna thanks to Dev.  He was close to 50 and Zeenat was barely 20.  Dev was still very handsome, he was beginning his downslide, and the tendency to wear flashy young clothes was just starting to rankle.  I have several friends, Harvey and Sameer among them, who are very interested in Dev of this period. Just mention '70s',' Dev' and 'Zeenat' in a sentence and Sameer is sure to pop up with a comment.

Heera Panna is a goldie of this new era in Dev's career. He is a (fashion?) photographer who gets embroiled in a diamond heist.  Zeenat is the semi-bad girl, the kind who is a thief and wears bikinis to distract men but is good at heart.  In this song she is trying to latch on Heera (Dev). Unbeknownst to him, the Heera she craves is lying in the petrol tank of his car.

Zeenat is wearing pink flares and her signature hoops-and-shoulder-cut-hair. Dev is dressed in mustard pants, a shirt that throws shades of orange and peach, red cap and a huge phallic looking camera. His car has names of various places written on it, showing that he is a much traveled, Internationally renowned photographer.

4. Hai Hai ye Majboori
Roti Kapda aur Makaan (1974)

Roti Kapda Aur Makaan was a feather in the cap of Zeenat Aman.  In this superhit multistarer, she was courted by two men, Manoj Kumar and Shashi Kapoor.  She loves her slightly loser-ish boyfriend from her mohalla, Manoj, but gets engaged to the dashing, rich Shashi.  She is torn between promise of a good life with Shashi and her love for Manoj.

She dresses mostly in Sarees as behooves a sanskari middle class girl who finds favor with Mr. Bharat, but she does get this romp in the rain where she teases her boyfriend for wasting time with his job when he should be with her.

5. Chori Chori Solah Singaar Karoongi
Manoranjan (1974)

Shammi Kapoor could not have found a better girl to play a happy-go-lucky prostitute for his remake of Irma La Douce than Zeenat.  Our girl never shied away from flaunting her sexuality.  Zeenat needed this capability in spades to play the role of Nisha who is a prostitute sans the usual tears that heroines were required to shed for being in that state.  In Manoranjan, she is happy in her profession and her only goal is to earn money and take care of her favorite pimp - Sanjeev.

Zeenat sings this lovely song while she takes a midnight bath, waiting for her man to return to her.  She wasn't a great actress, but manages to convey the joy she feels at decking herself up for her beloved. I doubt if we have ever seen any other Hindi film actress flaunt her body with the ease that Zeenat had.

6.  Ladi Nazariya Ladi
Warrant (1975)

By Mid-70s Zeenat's mentor, Dev Anand, was almost a spent force.  There are some who may want to delete the 'almost' in the previous sentence. I, however, enjoy some of his 70s movies. He extended his shelf life by appearing in/making reasonably watchable entertainers and also by acting alongside pretty young heroines.

In Warrant, Zeenie ups the glamour quotient by looking pretty and standing by Dev while he tries to find out who has framed him,  There is this lovely song from the film 'Main tumse mohabbat karti hoon' where Zeenat is honey-trapping the villain.  But I am a Punjaban and cannot resist a Punjabi sounding song and Zeenat decked up like a Punjabi girl.

7. Hai Agar Dushman Zamana 
Ham Kisi se Kam Nahi (1977)

Zeenat was not really there in Ham Kisi se Kam Nahi.  She was in a special appearance as Rishi's girl friend.  But what an appearence! Rishi was seen as a Prince of Qawwali, and here Zeenat gets to match him latka to jhatka.  She is very spirited as she decides to ditch her glum father (Ajit) and go on to the dias alongside Rishi and proclaim to the world that she will spurn everything for love.

Zeenat had an anglicised accent, but in the songs she gets to hide behind a singer and emote with abandon.  I adore her in this black outfit.  She had a gorgeous figure.

8. Ikk main hoon Ikk tu
Darling Darling (1977)

This song is lovely, soft, romantic. A slim Zeenat in a frock looks great as she resists the advances of Dev.  I have to thank Harvey for reminding me of this wonderful number.  It did swell my list from 12 to 13, but who cares! More the merrier, I say.

As far as I remember, Darling Darling had a story similar to My Fair Lady.  Dev Anand improves Zeenat from a rough speaking village girl to a polished woman who wows all.  It has the delightful Hello Darling which was meant to chart the transition, something like 'Rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain.'

I don't see any other Dev-Zeenat film in her filmography after this.  It seems like they moved on.  The phase of nice songs was also waning, soon we would be treated to eardrum killing tunes.   Dev was already in his fifties, and he was ageing.  Zeenat was in her prime.  She went on to make many more good movies - not with good songs though.

9.Aa jaa mere pyaar aaja
Heeralal Pannalal (1978)

I remember this song from my childhood days, when this film was released. Since then it has always been on my favourite list. I was fascinated by this song then and am fascinated by it now. Although the song sounds romantic it is not a lover’s romance, which is the driving force behind it, but a father-daughter love. The Hemant Kumar version of the song is sung by Premnath, the father () and the Asha Bhonsle version by Zeenat Aman. Pancham’s lines are an addition here, to which Amjad Khan moves his lips. Pancham’s gargling voice and his lines give the song certain urgency, which is immanent to it. The daughter sees her father after a long separation and in a grave danger. The father is in disguise and can’t reveal his identity and save her. The girls singing Mr. Hu (the father’s pseudonym) sounds thus like a ridicule. Zeenat Aman’s dialogue delivery though always left something to desire her facial expressions were always good. Here she manages to look sexy and still express her helplessness, sorrow and happiness at meeting her father.

Ava: Zeenat in a shimmery pink dress dancing with abandon ticks my boxes, but Premnath wearing a funny headgear as disguise does not.  But Harvey put up with my Punjabi choice from Warrant and I put up with this 'father-daughter' club dance.

10. Khatooba, khatooba
Alibaba Aur 40 Chor (1980)

Harvey: Zeenat is again on a mission to save her father here. He is locked in a cellar dungeon of a wizard. The wizard’s skills seem to be very futuristic, which manage to conjure up a disco in the middle ages of the Arabian nights. Zeenat does what she is best at, being seductive and turning every man's head in her wake and more.

Ava: Yes, Yes, Yes. This movie was fun and the song is terrific.  Zeenat dances her way out of a tight corner looking every inch like an Arabian Princess.  She danced pretty well too, at least the filmi variety.

11. Rakkasa Mera Naam
Great Gambler (1979)

For me movies stopped being fun after the 70s.  Qurbani which is listed next was the absolute last of the greats.  Even Amitabh movies became stale (most of them, anyway).  But this had it all.  Amitabh had  a double role, one CID Inspector and the other a crook.  He was very very very ably supported by two great actresses, Neetu Singh and Zeenat.  The movie is replete with lovely numbers featuring them.

In this song Zeenat is a belly dancer somewhere in middle-east (if my memory can be trusted).  No wonder Amitabh is transfixed by her.  There was another sublime song from the film with Zeenat and Amitabh - Do lafzon ki hai . This song is sung by me and Harvey every time either he or I talk about Venice and Gondolas.

12. Laila Main Laila
Qurbani (1980)

Habba Habba! I like actresses with loads of chutzpah, and Zeenat had it in spadefuls.  Here also she dons a lovely silvery dress and sways to this catchy tune.  Qurbani had another song that was (rightfully) an all time chartbuster.  I mean the Nazia Hasan number Aap Jaisa Koi.. It is a wonderful number, but if I had to pick a good dance and what we Punjabis call 'Rola Ruppa' (Noise quotient) to dance to, I prefer Laila Main Laila.

What fun movies we had in the 70s and (early 80s).  I had just started working then and wanted to take my nephew and niece for a movie treat.  This is what we picked to watch.  It takes me back to those days when I was younger and could still enjoy these kind of movies.

 Abdullah (1980)

Harvey: From the Arabian Nights setting of Alibaba we jump to Sanjay Khan’s take at the Krishna saga, which is reset in Arabian surroundings. The Arabian Nights are full of women who bathe in springs and men gawking at them. Sanjay Khan sets his Arabian oasis in a cheap Bombay studio with Mumbai’s chlorinated nal ka paani instead of the crystal-clear, sweet water of a spring. Only I can think of such superficial things, while most of other men were interested in the deeper values of Zeenat’s rendition of the song. (Ava: Rofl)

Ava: Zeenat rocks the song as only she could. She would have been really good in Satyam Shivam Sundaram if Raj Kapoor had let her do her own thing.  Here she looks so natural, enjoying her dip in err.... an oasis in the middle of a desert.

I have to thank Anu  and Sameer for sparking this idea of doing a post on Nakhrewali heroines.  I hope to be able to do many more on my favorite Divas like Sharmila Tagore, Saira Banu, Mumtaz and a few more.

I would love to hear about your favorite songs. Please do post them in the comments section.


  1. Zeenat Aman was indeed a big phenomenon in Hindi films. It was a wonder, how an actress of such less acting talent could have such an immense screen presence. She was also not, what one would call a classic Indian beauty, reminding one more of Nutan rather than Madhubala. She and Parveen Babi changed the role of women in Indian films.

    “I can't pin-point when the bouffant died”
    The hippies killed it Ava, the hippies! :D

    1. dum maro dum
    It has been called as the youth’s national anthem in the 70s. According to Bhatacharjee and Vittal this was song was conceptualized as a duet between Lata and Usha Uthup, but later became an Asha solo. Wonder how it would have sounded with Lata and Usha.
    Like this lesser known song from HKHR too, one could call it the title song of the film, which is similar in nature to dum maro dum

    Here is the story of making of dum maro dum

    2. Chura liya
    What can one say about this song, which has not already been said. Love it. Asha Bhonsle sings another stanza to this song in her concerts.
    Love aap ke kamre me too. In fact, I love all the songs of Y Ki B except for the title song.

    3. Panna ki tammanna
    Particularly in Dev Anand films she could be so uninhibitedly free, which would make her look very charming.

    4. Hai hai yeh majboori
    teri do takiye ki naukari me mera lakhon ka savan jaiye.
    Wonder if the unemployed can digest this lafz.

    5. chori chori solah singar karoongi
    “Shammi Kapoor could not have found a better girl to play a happy-go-lucky prostitute”
    He wanted Mumtaz for the role, but she demanded a bigger pay-check.
    Well, there is no trace of singhar in the traditional sense of the word, but I don’t see anybody complaining. Lovely song. One of my perennial favourites.

    7. Ham kisi se kam nahi
    I’m not much of a fan of the modern qawaalis, but this is quite infectious. I remember everybody going oh-ah, when Zeenat’s character picks up the necklace and wears it. A new form of rebellion was born.

    8. ik main hoon, ik tu
    I discovered this song much later in my life and it grew up on me instantly.

    11. rakkasa mera naam
    Zeenat Aman gets three solos in this movie. All are good. I like the mood of tum kitne din baad mile. It carries the plot ahead.
    The other being o deewano dil sambhalo

    12. Laila main laila
    Amit Kumar’s singing gives me a feeling that he is channeling Pancham here.

    13 bheega badan jalne laga
    Nice song. The bars ‘halki halki jalan, meethi meethi chuban’ are same as that jhoota kahin ka mujhe aisa mila

    My other favourite Zeenat songs?
    saathi aisa lagta hai from Namumkin (1986)

    aaina wahi rehta hai from Shalimar (1978)

    bhor bahe panghat pe from Satyam Shivam Sundaram (1978)

    Her pronounced matakna gets on my nerves but the song is beautiful.

    bheegi bheegi raaton me from Ajnabee (1974)

    Thank you for the wonderful list, dear Ava. I had great fun going through it and searching for Zeenie baby’s songs. And since most of them were Pancham songs, it was a double pleasure. Thank you also for letting me, be a part of the post.

  2. No Harvoo, Thank YOU. This concept could have died had you not supported me and egged me on. Cheers! Here is to our favorite 70s babe, Zeenie.

    That song from Namumkin is lovely. I like the music of SSS but Zeenat was so stilted in that. Pata nahi how she was directed.

    That is a lovely observation - She was very uninhibited with Dev. She was herself then, that was her persona, being bindaas.

    It was fun to collaborate with you. We must do it sometime again, soon.

  3. Why do you only collaborate with Harvey ? He was just a toddler when Zeenie Baby was frolicking with Dev in the 70's. He would not know the half of it :)

    Now; if you had collaborated with me, we would have brought the 70's alive with a BANG :)

    Here are some more ----

    1) Uljhan Suljhe Na (Dhund)
    Precursor of Zeenie's real-life relationship with Sanjay Khan; with Danny playing Sanjay's role :)

    Zeenie was pretty good with Rajes, the next 3 songs show it.
    2) Bheegi Bheegi Raton Mein

    3) Hum Dono Do Premee Duniya Chod Chale

    4) Yaar Dildaar Tujhe Kaisa Chahiye

    Zeenat rocked with Amitabh, the next 2 songs show why.
    5) Jiska Mujhe Tha Intazar

    6) Bachke Rehna Re Baba Bachke Rehna Re
    Selected to show Dev's 70's discoveries in the same song :)

    Total Masala Time-Pass with Shashi Kapoor
    7) Kahe Ko Kahe Ko Mere Peeche Padi Hai

    8) Chal Sapno Ke Sheher
    A pretty decent romantic one, but just Shashi

    Rounding up with 70's Dev :)
    9) Naam Hamara Mashhoor Ho Gaya Jaan Gaye Sab

    BTW --- LOL @ "Her diction was deplorable".
    This whole review is only meant for "deplorables" like us :)

  4. @Ava
    Now you've gone and made Samir jealous. oops!

    You're right. I was "just a toddler when Zeenie Baby was frolicking with Dev in the 70's."
    I had been waiting for a long, long time for the list of your favourite Zeenie baby songs, but was disappointed that you didn't do it. :( Then you go and wonder why.
    Tch, tch, tch! ;)
    So did you like the selected songs or didn't you? If you had to pick up thirteen Zeenie songs, would they be the same or would you include others?

    Blogger, your blog provider, wants me to spot grass. *shaking head* or should it be a fist?

  5. Oooh! You posted! :)

    Harvey has time to collaborate with you, Ava, but not write a post on his own blog? Shame!

    Between you, Harvey and Sameer, a lot of Zeenie baby's songs have been posted. Let me post one of my favourites here: Bheegi bheegi raaton mein from Ajnabi
    (It's a duet, but it has Zeenie baby at her sexiest best. And she manages to look so innocent too.)

    Thoroughly enjoyed the post and the nok-jhonk between the three of you. :)

  6. Sameer, I was afraid of collaborating with you. You would have overshadowed me. I can always stare down Harvey.

    LOOK at the songs you have posted! I had forgotten most of them. I am going to have fun listening to them all.

    I will make a playlist of them ALL.

    Harvey may have been a toddler in the 70s but he loves chasing 70s songs.

    I would totally have included Yaar Dildar. The others with Rajesh - though very nice songs - tend to focus more on Kaka. Isliye chhode.

    I hope you remember some more.

    I loved the Prem Shastra one - I can't believe I actually saw the movie in a hall. It was such a weird movie - the best Dev could have cooked up. He was so forward looking. Incest is in the open now in the west, with GOT, and he put the spotlight on it all those many years ago.

    Like Harvey said, Zeenat looked most comfortable with Dev, maybe because he let her be herself.

  7. @Anu, it was the chatting on your heroines post that started it all. I would rather Harvey and Sameer wrote a parallel post to mine, that would be so much fun. Sameer's knowledge of the 70s is enviable. And Harvey has an uncanny eye. (doosri ka pata nahi).

    I love this song from Ajnabee. We didn't pick it because Kaka overshadows it so much. Yes, Zeenat did have a baby face that made her look innocent even while stripping. To be fair, most of the better filmmakers did not indulge in risque stripping. In Manoranjan when she strips to take a bath, she is doing that because she is getting ready for her beloved. Or maybe she was so comfortable that she looked natural.

  8. What a lot of fun (and oomph!) Thank you for this, Ava and Harvey. I enjoyed the songs and the screen caps a lot, but even more than that, those hilarious comments you two had to offer (that phallic camera thing made me burst out laughing and immediately scroll back up to the screen cap! Wicked). No songs I can add here - after all, you two and Samir have been here before me. :-)

  9. *Correction* Prem Shastra was not by Dev but Amarjeet and B.R. Ishara.

  10. Or maybe she was so comfortable that she looked natural.

    I think she was very comfortable with her body and her sexuality that that comfort came across on screen. I agree about the shots being a lot less obvious, then. Have you watched her Koffee with Karan segment alongide Hema? It's a blast. The senior actresses all come across as being more outspoken and honest than their modern counterparts. Both Hema and she had a fun time talking about dodgy directors and camera shots and how they circumvented the suggestions. If you haven't watched it already, please do. :) [Also, the one with Jaya and Hema.]

  11. Oh Yes! I watched that and I was really surprised by the warmth they shared. They were like chalk and cheese! Yet they were yakking away without any jealousy or ill-feeling. I was mighty impressed about how well Zeenat spoke.

    I will try to catch the Hema/Jaya one. Is there any special place where you catch the show? The new season is on but I don't know where to see.

  12. Simply WOW!!!
    And Hats off to both of you for that passionate write up - Awesome.
    Take a bow.

    Totally totally loved her but like I said she was one of the "Banned" actresses in those days in our household - ofcourse my mother disliked her big time for all those qualities mentioned up there and then once we grew up - we realized what we missed :) - I have no count how many times I have seen "Quarbani" as being a Firoz Khan fan never missed it while it was on big screen, may be a part of film festival or anything. I even saw it once in Delhi in that theater they had inside Pragati Maidan.

    This is one heck of a collection of her best works.
    Superb Compilation.


  13. I watch Koffee with Karan on desirulez.net. I enjoyed the episode with Twinkle and Akshay. I have only seen 3 episodes so far -SRK and Alia, Ranbir and Ranveer (for obvious reasons) and Akshay and Twinkle because Twinkle is so outspoken.

    This post made my day! After seeing your post about Ashok Kumar's songs on facebook, I came here. And it almost felt like listening to you and Harvey talk.
    Fun conversation and lovely songs!

    Harvey : "Particularly in Dev Anand films she could be so uninhibitedly free, which would make her look very charming. " - so true!!!

    I love all songs from YKB, Heera Panna and Ajnabee. I wouldn't call it a favorite but I like this song from Bombay 405 Miles, it makes me happy -
    Haan, ho gaye, arey ho gaye hai hum aap ke qasam se

    Bheegi bheegi aankhen - Ishq Isha Ishq : I don't even know if I like this song, but everytime I hear/see it, the tune just lingers. May be it has something to do with Dev's colorful outfit

  14. I watched it on Star TV's channel on YouTube. Now, unfortunately, they have made it inaccessible in the US. But someone sent me a link the other day: (disclaimer - I don't watch online so I don't know if this is okay) http://www.hotstar.com/tv/koffee-with-karan/1525/hema-malini-and-jaya-bachchan/1000004215

    She said it's a great site that has all the episodes. Haven't checked it out myself yet.

  15. I don't think me and/or Harvey would have written a better post. I may be good at selecting songs (ALL memory); but writing is another matter. Your review is beautifully written and does full justice to Zeenat Aman.
    And there are very few Zeenie Baby songs left, good ones that is.
    Here is a stretch (similar to Main Tumse Mohabbat Karti Hoon from Warrant)
    Main Kachey Angoor Ki Bel

  16. What a list. Brought back so many memories. I always enjoyed Zeenat Aman films. She looked gorgeous, and dressed so well. She doesn't look outdated even now when you watch her movies.

  17. Dear Madhu, I am glad you enjoyed the post. :) If we keep it up, we may manage to entertain many.

  18. Rohit, Thank you. Qurbani was so much fun. I have not seen it in a very long time now.

  19. Batul, So true. Girls would be happy to wear those dresses today. Wide pants (called Palazzo's now) and top boots are back in fashion.

  20. Letyoursoulwander, Thanks for the link. I will try and catch the series there. Oh I love Bheegi bheegi ankhen. Thank you.

  21. Anu: Thanks for the link. Let me see what works for me.

  22. @Anu
    Yup throw the S-word at me! It just encouraged me to collaborate with Ava once again. :) So you see it wasn't useless. :)