Zeenat Aman turned a year younger on 18 November. She shares her Birthday thoughts with Subhash K Jha.
Q: How did you bring in your birthday?
A: It's always with my family and a very very close group of friends who are my after-dinner circle. They've been with me for long.
Q: What birthday thoughts?
A: I can't help thinking about how fortunate I am to be alive and healthy. So many people I've known closely like Mazhar Khan, Smita Patil and Parveen Babi are no longer with us. One is just so happy and grateful for the gift of life , reasonable health, and family and friends to love.
Q: Did Parveen's death shock you?
A: Very shocked and saddened that she was all alone. I think by virtue of her illness she shut people out.
Q: Considering how private you are, why has your life always been under a media glare?
A: When you're actively working you have to accept the media attention as a part of your life. It's an entire package. Can't have success without an invasion of privacy. You resign yourself to that. Now when I'm no longer that active in films, I treasure my privacy.
Q: Do you miss the constant attention?
A: No...I only miss the constant pay-checks (laughs heartily). Compared with what today's girls are earning our figures weren't all that rewarding.
Q: Maybe your generation wasn't that money-driven?
A: I can't speak for my colleagues. But my intention was always to give my best. I worked with some of the best directors. The intention was always to do the best work possible within the commercial framework.
Q: How do you feel about Priyanka Chopra playing your role in Don?
A: She's a lovely-looking girl. I haven't interacted much with her. Whenever we've met she's been very warm.. I'm delighted she's doing it. It all depends on the director now how much vivacity she brings to the part.
Q: You were the original bold-and-beautiful glamour girl. What do you think about your successors?
A: If the the truth be told, I haven't watched too many of them. But if a film is made with integrity and sincerity, I feel the bold-and-beautiful concept can be used lavishly and productively. If not the effect can be jarring.
Q: In your time a lot of films like Satyam Shivum Sunderam and Abdullah over-did your sensual act. Any regrets?
A: You know at that time one didn't look at what was done as exploitative. In hindsight, it may seem like a commercial gambit. But when I did it, I didn't think I was doing bold. I did it all with such confidence.
Q: When you were under a waterfall it looked like a shower.
A: Thank you so much...But now when I'm a mom I look back at certain scenes and feel they were a little too sensuous. Fortuntaely my sons are so much into their own lives, they aren't interested in my films, though the elder one has seen some of my films. Today my sons have their own life. But they've given my life a whole dimension.
Q: Are your boys interested in cinema?
A: They's both teenagers. The older one is studying at the University Of Arts in London. He's doing a course in filmmaking. The younger one is here in junior college.
Q: You're doing a film now?
A: Jaana...It's a commercial story with an interesting role. It's appropriate to my age. It's a fun film. And my sequences are funny. It's fun shooting with my old co-star Mr Rajesh Khanna.
We did a stint in Nainital recently....I haven't really been in touch with him over the years. I've signed a film about young people...I'd really like to do good work. But at this stage I think it isn't that easy.
Q: What do you think of the current craving to go to Hollywood?
A: I worked in Shalimar , the first Indo-American co-production with Rex Harrison, John Saxon and Gina Lolobrigida. Not too many people know at the beginning of my career I did an international project , a mish-mash with a Viatnamese leading lady.
Dev Saab was also in the project. It was never really released....The world has become such a small place. Cinema is one medium that crosses all lines on the map. But I don't think there a huge market for Indian actors. We fall into the ethnic minority. But why not aspire to go beyond home ground?
Q: You've been through a whole lot in life.
A: Life's so unpredictable. You never know when the next high or low will strike you. The trick is just to flow with the tides. I think a person's true worth is measured during times of failure. It's up to the individual to make the best that life has dealt.
Has life been unfair to me? No! I believe if life hands you lemons you make lemonade. I'm an eternal optimist. I've no regrets. I've people who love me. I've a wonderful life. I'm grateful for what I have.
Q: Have you been unlucky in love?
Q: Have you misjudged those you loved?
Q: Is there someone in your life now?
A: I'm happy.