Zeenat Aman’s Instagram account is less than a week old but is already a delight. Her sixth post, shared today, is a blockbuster one – an old black and white photo of the actress from a look test for controversial 1978 film Satyam Shivam Sundaram. In the caption, Ms Aman provided a backstory to the picture as well as some context. The photo was taken to assess whether audiences would be receptive to seeing Zeenat Aman in a rustic role – she was known for playing urban, trendily dressed women like Roma in Don and Sunita in Yaadon Ki Baraat. In contrast, Satyam Shivam Sundaram‘s Rupa is a villager with a disfigured face.
Satyam Shivam Sundaram, directed by Raj Kapoor, was controversial for its portrayal of sexuality and the female body. The Supreme Court dismissed a charge of obscenity against the film before its release. In her post, Zeenat Aman explains that the charges of obscenity “amused” her and she was following the director’s vision and directions.
Zeenat Aman wrote: “This picture was taken by photographer J P Singhal during a look test for Satyam Shivam Sundaram around 1977. We shot the series at R K Studios, and my costumes were designed by Oscar winner Bhanu Athaiya. Anyone acquainted with the history of Bollywood will know that there was much controversy and brouhaha about my character Rupa in Satyam Shivam Sundaram. I was always quite amused by the accusations of obscenity as I did not and do not find anything obscene about the human body. I am a director’s actor and these looks were part of my job. Rupa’s sensuality was not the crux of the plot, but a part of it. As it is, the set is not even remotely a sensual space. Every move is choreographed, rehearsed and performed in front of dozens of crew members.
“Director Raj Kapoor (Rajji) had brought me on board the film, but was concerned about my “western” image. He was unsure whether the audience would accept me in this avatar, and so conducted this look test. Later, on the basis of this test, we shot a small reel picturised on Lata ji’s famous song ‘Jaago Mohan Pyare‘ from the 1956 film Jagte Raho. Rajji held a screening of the reel at R K Studios to gauge the response of his distributors to me in this role. After that first screening, the rights for all territories were immediately sold.”
Read her post here:
Satyam Shivam Sundaram co-starred Shashi Kapoor and is now considered iconic.
Meantime, eagerly awaiting more posts from Zeenat Aman.
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