A woman with the potential to make it big. It is not that she cannot: she simply will not.
The closest anyone has come to being an adopted daughter.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The zzzzz factor

I've always been curious about alphabets. When I first came across reviews of the movie Veer, my first reaction was oh, just another Salman Khan cinema that went down the drain, and I had overlooked the casting section. Then I noticed the stills, and saw a cute, plump, somewhat attractive girl.

Who is this? My curiosity took over, and searching led to reveal that it's some was Zarine Khan. Veer was her debut, and she was called Yashodhara in the movie. Wow, not only does her name start with a Z, but she also has a V and a Y in her life, I thought! And then, while visiting her Wikipedia page, I found the following excerpt: "She received her entry into acting when she was visiting the set of Yuvraaj at Subhash Ghai's film school Whistling Woods."

Ooooh, two Ws as well, and another Y!

It was then that my memories raced back, down the by-lanes of Bollywood history. I thought of leading ladies from the past, not just anyone, but women whose names started with the last letter of the alphabet.

I shall not waste my (or anyone else's) time on writing about the queen of them all, Zeenat Aman. I grew up amidst telecasts of Bollywood films from the 1960s, the 1970s and the 1980s, and Zeenat was unmissable. There's no point going on about how I had drooled over this woman in my heydays; about how men have wasted ink and other fluids on her for years; I wouldn't be listing her filmography either.  However, I suppose I should mention a few Zeenat facts:
* Zeenat was born to a Hindu mother and a Muslim father, that too in Germany
* Zeenat won Miss Asia-Pacific in 1970
* Zeenat put her lips to satyam shivam sundaram, clapped and danced to khaike paan Banaraswala and was the woh repeatedly mentioned throughout the eternal jhingalala hoom in the same year.

Zarina Wahab shall always remain the one who went on a frantic search for aabodana all over Mumbai with Amol Palekar in Gharaonda. She co-starred with Amol in Chitchor and the mysterious Agar... If as well, and I suppose she matched Amol Palekar step-by-step in maintaining the next-door image. Zarina also acted against a pre-Ramayan Arun Govil in Saawan ko Aane Do, and surprised all and sundry pleasantly by making a Bollywood comeback in My Name is Khan.

Not many Indian actresses start their career with a Bond production, and when someone does, you cannot ignore her. Zaheera did (she had used the name Zara for the movie), in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. She followed this up with Gambler a year later (where Dev Anand claimed that her bangles were nothing but his heart), and then big-banner productions like Dharmatma and less-hyped ones like Taxi Taxie (starring Amol Palekar) and the much underrated Naukri (a Hrishikesh Mukherjee masterpiece starring Raj Kapoor and Rajesh Khanna).

I shall always remember Zahida as the girl who sat at the back of the carriage when Sanjeev Kumar put his lips to oh re taal mile in Anokhi Raat, a black-and-white movie as late as 1966. She played a role in two high-profile Dev Anand movies as well, Gambler (scroll down to the end of this article for some trivia) and a movie as good as Prem Pujari, no less.  After three fairly decent movies to start off, she mysteriously faded into oblivion with not much more to boast of in her career.

When I first saw Henna nineteen years back I thought Zeba Bakhtiar would have a long career. She didn't. She acted in three movies (Mohabbat ki Arzoo, Stuntman and Jai Vikraanta) that I didn't watch, but had listened to their songs quite intently. I had heard vaguely somewhere that she had married Adnan Sami and had got separated. She, like many others of her generation, isn't a leading actress any more, has stooped to directing serials for the television and resides somewhere in Pakistan.

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Correction to an earlier blog entry:
In my previous blog post I had mentioned that Zaheera and Zahida in Gambler provide the only instance of two actresses starting with a Z in the same movie. I was wrong: Zeenat Aman and Zarina Wahab had acted alongside (who is surprised?) Dev Anand in Ishq Ishq Ishq. So much for overconfidence.

PS: Six pretty pictures in one post - I'd be crestfallen if this doesn't get tagged as ghyam.


  1. I wanted to comment on this topic like hell. But the factor precedes two characters more than of my character of interest. Never mind, wishing something from you on my favorite character.

  2. Zzzzz....
    u started so well! truly speakin, I was expecting some MORE from u.

  3. "There's no point going on about how I had drooled over this woman in my heydays; about how men have wasted ink and other fluids on her for years" true. and the funniest thing, this is something even my father says :D

  4. yes!! zeenat aman + zarina wahab!! somehow i feel vindicated :)