By Harihar Swarup
Laughing at the places life takes me. Why hello there, Instagram. Thus began the instagram takeover of Zeenat Aman, whose bio reads: “Actor mother, Maverick”. Accompanying the caption was an image of the veteran actor seated at her home on “a lovely sunny afternoon”, wearing; grey—and white—cord set and sporting a silver bob. The post began a talking point as it marked the screen sensation’s return to a public platform over half a century after she burst into popular consciousness playing a troubled young flower child in Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971). Holding a marijuana pipe, she was seen iconic Dum maarodum song. Comfortable in her own skin, the model-turned-actor was hailed as ‘game changer’, an unconventional heroine with western looks.
Now 71-year- old actor has reclaimed the game changer tag. This time around, the moniker has come as a recognition for her remarkable use of social media. A rare dignified presence on it, her nuanced posts offer perspective, nostalgia and charm. Aman might have unwittingly ushered in a new chapter in social-media engagement by celebrities.
Even as Aman is wowing legions of fans on social media, making connection with Gen Z, and adding grist to contemporary discourses, those who have known her over decades are hardly surprised. “She has always been an exceptionally intelligently and articulate person. It can only come from her. It’s not like she has been tutored. I don’t think even she could have imagined such a response”, Says author-columnist Shobha De who has known Aman since their modelling days when they did several ad and fashion photo shoots together.
Aman, too, in one of her press posts confessions to being “god smacked by the sheer geographic diversity” of her followers and the appreciation that her instagram handle–@theeenataman – has been receiving. Yet, she was quick to realize the significance of her social media presence. In about 22 posts (and counting) the self confessed “notoriously private person” has covered a gamut of issues—from advocating adopting “a dog from a shelter or the streets” to commenting on how “social worth” of women in association with their “youth and physical beauty”; from older women missing in the public eye to the need to respect the private lives of celebrities and putting the onus on men to ensure their female co-worker are paid fairly. The posts have duly received applause as well as glowing praises from many including Zoya Akhatar, Kojol, Manisha Korala, Richa Chadha, Sweta Bachan and Shipla Shetty.
The answer to how the veteran actor is making better use of instagram than most new age users, probably lies in the fact that whatever she does, she gives it her best. At a special conversation hosted by Algebra, an art and ideas club in Gurugram, in November 2018, Aman said, “I was raised to be an achiever. I worked very hard – whether at school (St. Joseph’s Convent, a girl’s boarding school in Panchgani) when I won scholarship to study (journalism) in America. When I was not sent to Miss World, but to Miss Asia (competition), I said to myself, I have to win the crown. So, I came back with Miss Asia Pacific and Miss Photogenic titles. When I was in the (films) business I wanted to be the best”. (IPA Service)