We all know Zeenat Aman as the most glamorous Bollywood actor who went on to rule through the 1970s. However, little do her fans know that Zeenat wasn’t a child actor like many of her contemporaries but forayed into acting after winning the Miss Asia Pacific International pageant at the age of 19. She was the first Indian to win the title years before Tara Forseca won the title in 1973 and Dia Mirza won it in 2000. (Also Read | I was smoking a pipe, wearing a skirt : Zeenat Aman on bagging first film with Dev Anand)
Zeenat came second in the Femina Miss India pageant and was given the title of ‘First Princess’. She went on to contest in the Miss Asia Pacific International event in Philippines and won. Looking gorgeous in a yellow swimsuit, Zeenat sported a bindi on her forehead as she went on to wear the crown and the red cape.
She recalled her pageant days last year when Harnaaz Sandhu won the Miss Universe pageant 2021. “I not only won Miss India and Miss Asia Pacific in 1970, but I was also crowned Miss Photogenic. I remember doing my own make-up and hair, and picking my own costumes. In those days, we did not have such support systems. We just put our best foot forward. I am glad that the girls now have a great team working with them,” she told Times of India in an interview.
After the win, Zeenat bagged multiple film offers and made her film debut with none other than Dev Anand. Titled The Evil Within, the Indo-Filipino film was directed by Lamberto V. Avellana. This was followed by her first Hindi film – Hungama starring Kishore Kumar and Vinod Khanna in 1971. She didn’t wait long to make it big in Bollywood and had her breakthrough role in another Dev Anand film, Hare Rama Hare Krishna the same year.
Zeenat also had a small connect with the film industry. She was the daughter of Amanullah Khan, pen name ‘Aman’, who was one of the screenwriters of the epic Mughal-e-Azam.
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