'Nobody is knocking my door down'

UNLIKE THE other actresses of her time, Zeenat faded into oblivion after bad relationships, marriage, motherhood, and is now a single parent bringing up two sons. However, her fans in India are unwilling to forget the sexy swinging star.

And if not for Dum Maro Dum and Satyam Shivam Sundaram, she is fondly remembered 30-plus years later for Chura Liya Hai Tumne...

Why aren't you seen on screen more often?

Honestly, I'm not offered anything substantial. The past years have been devoted to my 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. Now that the boys are growing up, I'm open to appropriate roles. But nobody is knocking my door down.

From Hai Hai Yeh Majboori to Mera Gore Gaalon Ka to Chura Liya Hai Tumne, you are associated with the most wonderful songs from the 1970s.

I was so fortunate to have those songs that are alive even today. Thirty years down the road, they're being air-played as remixes or whatever. I guess it was about being in the right place at the right time. When I did those songs I had no idea they'd be important later. I just went by instinct.

Do you watch 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 inhouse jokes. I thought it was an irreverent, funny film.

You've gone through very trying times.

Yes, 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.

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.

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. 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.

What have your sons been doing with their lives?

Azaan, 21, is studying direction in the UK. Zahaan, 17, is into culinary arts. They're young. Their priorities change constantly. Let's see where they finally go.

Have you forgiven the men who have hurt you?

Yes, I've forgiven them completely. I see no point in holding 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.

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