It may sound strange but the 1970s sex symbol and fashion icon Zeenat Aman is a little conventional when it comes to having children.
"To me marriage was imperative for motherhood. In a society, I could never impose my own morality on my children. I think it's very wrong to be an unwed mother. You give your child the stigma of illegitimacy," Zeenat told IANSn in an interview.
However, she is happy with her two sons Azaan, who is 21 and studying direction in Britain, and Zahaan, 17.
The entire nation continues to have a crush on you.
It's such a wonderful thing to hear, thank you very much
So many years have passed since you ruled, and yet new actresses every year continue to be compared with you.
What can I say? It just makes me feel iconic. I feel very special when I'm told girls look up to me.
Why aren't you seen on screen more often?
Honestly, I have not been offered anything substantial. The past years of my life have been devoted to my two sons. I've been so immersed in the task of being a single parent that I haven't really given anything else a serious thought. Raising my sons has been my only priority. But now that they're growing up, I'm open to roles. But nobody is knocking my door down (laughs heartily)
<b1>From Hai hai yeh majboori to Mera gore gaalon ka to Chura liya hai tumne, you continue to be associated with the most wonderful songs from the 1970s...
I was so fortunate to have those songs that are alive even today. Even today they're being aired and played as remixes or whatever. I guess it was about being in the right place at the right time. When I did those songs or anything else in my career, I had no idea they'd be important later. I just went by instinct.
Your colleague Shabana Azmi sang Chura liya hai tumne recently.
Yes, I'm aware of it. I saw Loins Of Punjab Presents and found it genuinely funny. I was quite tickled by the film and the homage.
Do you watch the new films?
I want to see Saawariya. I saw Om Shanti Om. It goes back to 'my' era. And I loved it! I got most of the in house jokes. I thought it was an irreverent funny film.
Do you think we need to be more reverent about the past?
Oh nonsense! I've two of the most irreverent kids in my house. They poke fun at everything. I enjoy irreverence. One can't take oneself seriously. Just enjoy the moment. Today, I'm so happy to have the gift of life. I see so many of my colleagues in the entertainment industry not being around any longer. It's so sad.
You've gone through very trying times....
Yes, I've gone through all of that. They've made me stronger. There's no fixed pattern or formula to life. No one is going to guarantee only happiness. There'll be downs. The trick is to ride the downs and not get carried away by the highs. Just get on with life.
Do you think stardom comes easier to today's newcomers?
Not at all! Yes, some of them find it easier to get an entry. But everyone has to work hard, very hard. I did. It wasn't easy for me.
You were right at the top when you opted for marriage and motherhood. Is that what all actresses should do?
I can't speak for other actresses. But yes, I desperately wanted to be a mother. I had no siblings. I was the only child. After 15 years in the movie business, I was ready to have my own family. And to have a family you need to be married.
Oh, to me marriage was imperative for motherhood. In a society, I could never impose my own morality on my children. I think it's very wrong to be an unwed mother. You give your child the stigma of illegitimacy.
So would you have gone without marriage if you didn't want to be a mother?
Definitely! I got married in October and the next October I had my son with me. I've loved being a mom, though it hasn't been easy for me being the nurturer and the bread provider.
What have your sons been doing with their lives?
Azaan, who is 21, is studying direction in Britain. The other Zahaan 17, is into culinary arts. They're young. Their priorities change constantly. Let's see where do they finally go.
Are you a friend to your sons?
I've told my sons, this is their home and they're free to bring any of their friends here. I don't want them doing anything on street corners. They've their parties, dinners, chit chats at home. I'm there for them, though I give them their space.
How does your average day go?
Quite simply, like a whirlwind. Among my sons, staff, plants, chores and my gym, my day swishes by.
Have you forgiven the men who have been nasty to you?
(Laughs) I don't dwell on the past. I'm so full of 'now', so happy for the gift of each day. When I walk into the house, the dogs bathe me in such a warm welcome. That'd all I need.
Don't dodge the question, Zeenat. Have you forgiven the men who ill-treated you?
(After a silence) Yes, I've forgiven them completely. I see no point in harbouring grudges. I'd rather not have any negativity within me. It's all gone, washed away. With every passing year it's only the here and the now that seems important. As I talk to you, I'm sitting in Delhi attending a friend's wedding, and I'm very happy. My boys are with me. And I feel I've a lot to be thankful for.