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HomeEntertainmentZeenat Aman exposes 'moral policing' she faced after Shammi Kapoor's film 'Manoranjan'

Zeenat Aman exposes ‘moral policing’ she faced after Shammi Kapoor’s film ‘Manoranjan’

Mumbai, June 10: Zeenat Aman on Monday took to her popular Instagram account to talk about how she had to face “moral policing” because of her role in the 1974 film ‘Manoranjan’. The actress played a sex worker in the Shammi Kapoor film and that upset the moral police.

The long post, accompanied by archival pictures, a movie still and a hand-painted poster, immediately got a response from Priyanka Chopra, who said the ‘moral police’ is still around, and made Anil Kapoor recall the day when the film was released in Mumbai. Zeenat wrote, “If I’ve had a steady companion throughout my career, it’s been the moral police. And, my goodness, did they have a field day with this one.” She said the film, starring Sanjeev Kumar as the leading man, defied “existing conventions.” The film was an adaptation of the 1963 American comedy. ‘Irma La Douce’, with Zeenat playing the role of Nisha, a sex worker with a sense of dignity, independence and humour. Reflecting on the filming experience, Zeenat described it as a “haste-haste, khelte-khelte affair”. The actress noted that the film was Shammi Kapoor’s directorial debut and had R.D. Burman as the music director, with producer F.C. Mehra being a family friend.

The film was shot entirely in studios in Mumbai. Elaborating on her character, Zeenat said: “Nisha was no damsel in distress! Her outfits were flirtatious and sexy, but more importantly, she was unapologetic about how she earned a living.

This was a character that I could have fun with — sexually liberated, financially independent, and fully capable of locking horns with, and turning down, any man.” Calling herself a “director’s actor”, Zeenat credited Shammi Kapoor for coaxing out one of her better performances. She fondly recalled the music and costumes, and wrote: “I’ve always maintained that I am a ‘director’s actor’, and I do believe Shammi ji coaxed out one of my better performances with this film.

“The music and costumes were also a hoot. In ‘Aaya hoon main tujh ko le jaoonga’, we dance upon gigantic musical instruments; ‘Chori chori solah singar’ … has a titillating shower sequence, and ‘Dulhan maike chali’ is pictured entirely in a police van full of sex workers being taken to the police station. It was sung by all three Mangeshkar sisters! If you’re interested, you can watch these on YouTube.” Zeenat concluded by noting: “The 70s were a wonderful time to be alive! Despite the moral police (they’re always around) the atmosphere of experimentation, freedom and fashion was unmatchable! I wonder if some of my older followers remember this film? I’d love to hear your memories of watching it or any discussion it may have provoked.

Enjoy your Monday and have a lovely week, everybody.” Fans and celebrities quickly flooded the comments section with admiration.

Priyanka Chopra took to the Comment section and shared her thoughts about moral policing. She wrote: “Moral police is still around and will continue to be around it seems! But you are beyond.” Anil Kapoor got nostalgic: “Loved the film, the song picturisations and performances … screening of the film/picture ka pehla trial show was at the iconic RK Studios auditorium with friends and families of the warm, gracious and generous Krishna Aunty/Mrs Raj Kapoor.”

For Archana Puran Singh, too, it was time to look back at those times: “Of course I remember watching this absolutely amazing film in the small town theatres of Dehradun! And what an experience it was. Even though I was very young, I was enthralled by the world that was created and my parents thought nothing of sending a young girl to watch a film on this subject (I wonder if it had an ‘A’ certificate and that somehow I was still allowed!).” Commenting on those days, Singh added: “Those times were different and parents were not very well informed, I guess. But I’m happy I got to watch a film that has endured in my memory till date! This is one of your films, Z, which has had a lasting impression on me (the other being ‘Hare Rama Hare Krishna’) and I became your hugest fan … the costumes, your styling and your entire presence was such an inspiration for me at the time.

Ending on a personal note, she said: “When my brother came to know that over the years you and I had become friends, he was like, ‘Wow, you got to make your dream of meeting your icon come true.’ So yes, Manoranjan and you played a big part in my own aspirations and realisation of becoming an actor myself.”

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