Preity Zinta at the Jaan-E-Mann and UFO tie-up party (2006).
|Born||January 31, 1975
Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, India
|Domestic partner(s)||Ness Wadia (2005–2009)|
Preity Zinta (Hindi: प्रीति ज़िंटा, pronounced [ˈpriːtɪ ˈzɪɳʈaː]; born 31 January 1975) is an Indian film actress. She has appeared in Hindi films of Bollywood, as well as Telugu, Punjabi and English language films. After graduating with a degree in criminal psychology, Zinta made her acting debut in Dil Se in 1998 followed by a role in Soldier the same year. These performances earned her a Filmfare Best Female Debut Award, and she was later recognised for her role as a teenage single mother in Kya Kehna (2000). She subsequently played a variety of character types; her film roles along with her screen persona contributed to a change in the concept of a Hindi film heroine.
Zinta received her first Filmfare Best Actress Award in 2003 for her performance in the drama Kal Ho Naa Ho. She went on to play the lead female role in two consecutive annual top-grossing films in India: the science fiction film Koi... Mil Gaya, her biggest commercial success, and the star-crossed romance Veer-Zaara, which earned her critical acclaim. She was later noted for her portrayal of independent, modern Indian women in Salaam Namaste and Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, top-grossing productions in overseas markets. These accomplishments have established her as a leading actress of Hindi cinema. Her first international film role was in the Canadian film Heaven on Earth, for which she was awarded the Silver Hugo Award for Best Actress at the 2008 Chicago International Film Festival.
In addition to movie acting, Zinta has written a series of columns for BBC News Online South Asia, is a regular stage performer, and along with ex-boyfriend Ness Wadia she is a co-owner of the Indian Premier League cricket team Kings XI Punjab. She is known in the Indian media for publicly speaking her mind and openly expressing her opinions, occasionally sparking controversy. These controversies include her being the only witness not to retract in court her earlier statements against the Indian mafia during the 2003 Bharat Shah case, for which she was awarded the Godfrey Phillips National Bravery Award.
Zinta was born into a Hindu Rajput family from Rohru in Shimla district, Himachal Pradesh. Her father, Durganand Zinta, was an officer in the Indian Army. He died in a car accident when she was 13 years old; the accident also involved her mother, Nilprabha, who was severely injured and consequently remained bedridden for two years. Zinta called the tragic accident and her father's death a significant turning point in her life, which forced her to mature rapidly.[11 ] She has two brothers; Deepankar and Manish, a year older and a year younger respectively. Deepankar is a commissioned officer in the Indian Army, while Manish lives in California.
Zinta, who describes herself as a tomboy as a child, has emphasised her father's military background as having a lasting impression on how family life was conducted. He asserted the importance of discipline and punctuality to the children. She studied at the Convent of Jesus and Mary boarding school in Shimla. Although she confesses to loneliness in the boarding school, she noted that it was compensated by her finding a "... perfect set of friends" there. As a student, she developed a love for literature, particularly the works of William Shakespeare and poetry. According to Zinta, she enjoyed schoolwork and received good grades; in her free time she played sports, especially basketball.[11 ]
Upon graduating from the boarding school at age 18, Zinta enrolled at St Bede's College in Shimla. She graduated college with an English honours degree, and then started a graduate programme in psychology. She earned a postgraduate degree in criminal psychology, but later took up modelling. Zinta's first television commercial was for Perk chocolates, the result of a chance meeting with a director at a friend's birthday party in 1996. The director persuaded Zinta to audition for the spot, and she was selected. Afterwards, she appeared in other catalogues and commercials, including one for the soap Liril.[11 ]
In 1997, Zinta met film-maker Shekhar Kapur when she accompanied a friend to an audition, and was asked if she would audition too. Upon seeing her audition, Kapur insisted that she become an actress. She was originally scheduled to make her screen debut in Kapur's Tara Rum Pum Pum opposite Hrithik Roshan, but the filming was cancelled. Kapur later recommended her for director Mani Ratnam's movie Dil Se. Zinta often recalls that when she joined the film industry, her friends teased her that she would typically "wear white saris and dance in the rain", thereby motivating her to play different parts.
Zinta commenced shooting for Kundan Shah's Kya Kehna, whose release was delayed until 2000. The delay of another film, Soldier, meant that her first release was Dil Se (1998) opposite Shahrukh Khan and Manisha Koirala. She was introduced as Preeti Nair, a middle-class Delhi girl and Khan's fiancée. The film was considered an unusual launch for a newcomer, as her role called for only 20 minutes of screen time. However, she was eventually noticed for her role, particularly for the forthright character she played.[11 ] Her scene with Khan, in which she asked him, "Are you a virgin?", became well-known, and her portrayal earned her a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award nomination. She played her first leading role in the action-drama Soldier (1998), a commercial hit of the year. She won the Filmfare Best Female Debut Award for her performance in both Dil Se and Soldier.
Zinta next acted in two Telugu films, Premante Idera (1998), opposite Venkatesh; and Raja Kumarudu (1999), opposite Mahesh Babu. She followed with the leading role in the thriller Sangharsh, alongside Akshay Kumar. The film, based on The Silence of the Lambs (1991), was directed by Tanuja Chandra and written by Mahesh Bhatt. Zinta portrayed the character of Reet Oberoi, a CBI officer who falls in love with a captured killer played by Kumar. The film was not a box-office success, although Zinta's performance was appreciated by critics.[11 ]
Zinta's first role in 2000 was in the drama Kya Kehna, which unexpectedly became a box-office success. The film addressed themes of single parenthood and teenage pregnancy, and gained Zinta wider recognition from the public as well as film critics.[11 ] Her portrayal of a teenage single mother who fights social prejudice earned her several award nominations, including her first nomination for Best Actress at the Filmfare Awards. India Today reported that Zinta belonged to a new breed of Hindi film actors that breaks away from character stereotypes.
Later that year, Zinta starred in Vidhu Vinod Chopra's drama Mission Kashmir alongside Sanjay Dutt and Hrithik Roshan. Set in the valley of Kashmir during the Indo-Pakistani conflicts, the film dealt with the topic of terrorism and crime. Zinta's role was that of Sufiya Parvez, a TV reporter and Roshan's childhood love. A review in The Hindu said about her performance, "Preity Zinta is her usual cherubic self and lends colour to the otherwise serious proceedings". It was an economic success, becoming the third-highest grossing film of the year in India.
In 2001, Zinta earned positive reviews for her role in Farhan Akhtar's National Film Award-winning Dil Chahta Hai, co-starring Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna. Depicting the contemporary routine life of Indian affluent youth, it is set in modern-day urban Mumbai and focuses on a major period of transition in the lives of three young friends. Zinta starred as Aamir Khan's love interest, Shalini. According to critics, the film broke new ground by showing Indian youth as they are today. Despite the critical reception, it was only a moderate box office success in India; it performed well in the big cities but failed in the rural areas, which was attributed by critics to the urban-oriented lifestyle depicted in the movie. Rediff.com wrote of Zinta that she "... is beautiful and vibrant, wavering between endearingly naive and confused".
Three more 2001 releases featured Zinta, including Abbas-Mustan's romantic drama Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, which was released after a one-year delay due to the trial of producer Bharat Shah. This film was one of the first Bollywood movies to address the controversial issue of surrogate childbirth. Zinta's performance as Madhubala, a golden-hearted prostitute hired as a surrogate mother, earned her a Filmfare Best Supporting Actress nomination. Rediff.com noted, "Preity Zinta, who clearly has the meatiest part of all, makes the best of it. Her transformation from the cocky and unabashed prostitute to a sensitive and warm person is amazingly believable." Following her portrayal of a range of characters in Kya Kehna, Sangharsh and Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, Zinta gained a reputation for playing roles that go against Indian traditional mores and was often recognised for her versatility as an actress. Critics attributed her roles in these films as to establishing a new image for leading actresses in Bollywood.
In 2002, Zinta collaborated once again with director Kundan Shah, as the protagonist in the family drama Dil Hai Tumhaara, alongside Rekha, Mahima Chaudhry and Arjun Rampal. Although the film did not succeed at the box office, her portrayal of Shalu, an adopted daughter craving love, was critically acclaimed. Taran Adarsh from indiaFM noted, "... Preity Zinta, in an author-backed role ... steals the show with a sterling performance. Her scenes with Rekha (second half) and Alok Nath (pre-climax) are simply outstanding. Here's a performance that is sure to win accolades from the junta and critics whole-heartedly."
Zinta was the female lead in India's three highest-grossing films of 2003: The Hero: Love Story of a Spy, Koi... Mil Gaya and Kal Ho Naa Ho. The Hero, co-starring Sunny Deol and Priyanka Chopra, is a patriotic drama about a spy network involving terrorists and an Indian army officer. Zinta played the part of Reshma, a villager who falls in love with the officer and becomes part of this network. The film, involving stunts never seen before in the cinematic history of Bollywood, became the most expensive Hindi film ever produced at the time. Despite being the third highest-grossing film of that year, it failed to recover its production costs at the box office. She next starred in Honey Irani's directorial debut, Armaan, alongside Amitabh Bachchan and Anil Kapoor. This drama is set in a hospital and follows the travails of its personnel and its principal, Dr. Akash, who struggles arduously to sustain the institution financially. Zinta played Akash's schizophrenic wife Sonia Kapoor. The film received predominantly positive reviews, and Zinta was particularly praised. The Tribune concluded, "Zinta has outclassed everyone with her convincing performance." For her performance, she received nominations for Best Villain at different award ceremonies, including Filmfare.
Rakesh Roshan's science-fiction film Koi... Mil Gaya, about a developmentally disabled young man, followed. Co-starring with Rekha and Hrithik Roshan, Zinta played the role of Nisha, a young woman whom Roshan befriends. She received another Best Actress nomination at the Filmfare for the role. The movie was a financial and critical success and became the most popular film of the year, as well as Zinta's highest-grossing movie, with a domestic total of Rs 489 million; it won the Filmfare Best Movie Award, among others.
Zinta's final release of 2003 was Kal Ho Naa Ho, a tearjerker set in New York City. It was directed by Nikhil Advani and written by Karan Johar, co-starring Jaya Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan and Saif Ali Khan. The film was received favourably by critics and became India's second-biggest hit of the year after Koi... Mil Gaya. It also did well internationally and became India's top-grossing film of the year overseas, earning over Rs 600 million worldwide. Zinta played the role of Naina Catherine Kapur, an insecure and angry young Indian-American woman who falls in love with a man who has a fatal heart disease. She won several awards for her performance, including the Filmfare Best Actress Award. Derek Elley from Variety wrote, "Zinta, who's been carving a growing following the past three years or so, has never been better, definitively moving from juve roles to a charismatic young woman with her sexy, assured Naina."
In 2004 she starred as TV journalist Romila Dutta in Farhan Akhtar's war drama Lakshya, co-starring with Hrithik Roshan. The film was based on the historical events of the 1999 Kargil Conflict; Zinta's character was modeled after TV journalist Barkha Dutt, the only female reporter assigned to the story. The film was a critical success, yet her performance received mixed reviews; Rediff.com noted, "Zinta has quite a good role and a good deal of footage in the film, and she does a fairly decent job of it without ever being spectacular."
Later that year, Yash Chopra cast her opposite Shahrukh Khan as the female lead in the love saga Veer-Zaara, the top-grossing Bollywood film of that year in both India and abroad, earning over Rs 750 million worldwide. The film, which relates the love story of an Indian officer, Veer Pratap Singh, and a Pakistani woman, Zaara Haayat Khan, had a strong international release, including a screening at the Berlin Film Festival, and won several Best Movie awards in major Indian award ceremonies. For her portrayal of Zaara, a smart Pakistani girl, Zinta received her fourth Filmfare Best Actress nomination. Variety hailed her as "the most interesting young actress of her generation," writing that she "is her usual lively self as the willful Zaara." Veer-Zaara was Zinta's second highest-grossing film and third major success in two consecutive years. It marked the beginning of her work with Yash Raj Films, one of the largest production houses in Bollywood.
In 2005, Zinta appeared in two movies. Her first release was the folk comedy Khullam Khulla Pyaar Karen, co-starring Govinda, a production that had been delayed since 2002. The film garnered negative reviews and poor box office returns. Zinta's role was small, and was not well received. Her next release was Siddharth Anand's comedy-drama Salaam Namaste, co-starring Saif Ali Khan. Produced by Yash Raj Films, it was the first Indian movie to be filmed entirely in Australia and went on to become the year's highest-grossing Bollywood production overseas, with revenues of Rs 430 million internationally. The film tells the story of a contemporary cohabiting Indian couple. Zinta played the female protagonist Ambar Malhotra, a single modern young woman who leaves India to make her own life in Australia. The film was well received by critics, and Zinta's performance earned her nominations for Best Actress at a number of award ceremonies. Taran Adarsh wrote, "After Kya Kehna, Preity Zinta accepts the challenge of portraying an unwed mother yet again in Salaam Namaste. The actor is terrific, delivering her most accomplished performance to date. Her lip locks with Saif Ali Khan will catch a lot of people unaware, but that's the sign of a thorough professional." The New York Times noted, "She is cheerleader-homecoming queen-fraternity sweetheart pretty, so even when her characters are being unkind it's hard not to like her."
Zinta received further success in 2006, starring in Karan Johar's drama Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna with an ensemble cast including Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukerji and Kirron Kher. The film became one of the biggest box office hits in India, earning Rs 464 million, and grossed over Rs 445 million overseas, the biggest Bollywood success of all time in the overseas market. It was her fourth overseas top-earner in four consecutive years. The film tells the story of two unhappily married couples in New York, and an ensuing extramarital affair. Zinta played the role of Rhea Saran, an ambitious fashion magazine editor. She described the role as an attempt to shed her vivacious public image. The Indian Express concurred that this was successful: "The lady has not just looked glamorous but she has walked with poise, sat with grace, smiled with composure and spoke with calmness. Who would have thought that the bubbly girl could so skillfully shed her age-old tag and walk away as the don't-mess-with-me lass. So all those who are in search of the peppy Preity, well guys you've dialed the wrong number this time."
She then starred in Shirish Kunder's romantic musical Jaan-E-Mann, a story set in the United States about two men, played by Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar, who love the same woman. The film received positive reviews from critics, yet performed poorly at the box office. Zinta played the role of Piya, the cynosure of two men. She was mostly criticised for taking a role of minimal importance, though her performance was generally well-received. Raja Sen described her role as "ornament throughout," but further stated that she "comes vividly alive in the film's last scene, a moment that makes you lament why filmmakers today don't let the babyfaced actress have more fun instead of forcing her to sob copiously. She doesn't have much to do in Jaan-E-Mann, but looks appropriately attractive." Zinta said that the film was a great relief after the more emotionally intense Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, as Jaan-E-Mann was "easy, happy and much more simple".
In 2007 Zinta portrayed a British Pakistani woman, Alvira Khan, in her third project with Yash Raj Films, Shaad Ali's comedy Jhoom Barabar Jhoom, alongside Abhishek Bachchan, Bobby Deol and Lara Dutta. The film was a critical and commercial failure in India. She was criticised for her performance; The Times of India described her as "too plastic" and Rediff.com concluded, "From accent to emotion, Preity is plain and simple insufferable in this film."
In 2007, following the failure of two of her commercial releases, Zinta began working with art film directors, and turned towards neo-realistic movies, known in India as parallel cinema. She acted in her first English film, Rituparno Ghosh's The Last Lear, as a struggling theatre actress opposite Amitabh Bachchan. The film premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival, and was received well. The first reviews were approving, with Rajeev Masand writing, "Preity Zinta gets through her scenes competently, never allowing her cute-as-a-button image to take away from the impact she makes here as a conflicted, mature woman." Zinta said about her first art film, "I did think with art films that they don't pay you, they don't feed you, but I was wrong, and I'm so happy to be here."
Zinta next starred in Samir Karnik's Heroes (2008), a road movie about two final-year film students who, as a part of their assignment, travel a thousand miles across North India to deliver three un-posted letters written by army personnel who lost their lives during the 1999 Kargil war to their families. The story unfolds the journey of these students in three chapters and follows how they meet and are inspired by the families of the soldiers. Zinta is featured in the first chapter as Salman Khan's war widow, Kuljeet Kaur, a woman who becomes the sole breadwinner of the family and single-handedly raises her son. In preparation for the role, Zinta attended Anupam Kher's acting school to learn the dialect and mannerisms of a Punjabi woman. Both her performance and the film received rave reviews; Anand Singh of Hindustan Times wrote, "Karnik is merely interested in wringing tears the old-fashioned way, and not in starting a debate. He succeeds—mainly because Preity Zinta brings to a role a gravitas and dignity that is seen on the faces of ordinary women—this may be her coming of age as an actress."
By April 2008, Zinta completed shooting for Jahnu Barua's drama Har Pall and Deepa Mehta's Canadian film Heaven on Earth, a Punjabi language drama based on the true story of a non-resident Indian battered wife. Her performance in Heaven on Earth earned her the Best Actress (Silver Hugo) award at the 2008 Chicago International Film Festival, for "her strong yet subtle performance as a woman struggling to keep her dreams despite brutal realities."
In 2004, Zinta joined a group of South Asian commentators for BBC News Online. She expressed joy at participating in the project, saying, "I am pretty outspoken and have my own view on every subject. So it will be a good platform for me to air my views." Her first column, "The changing face of Bollywood", published in January 2004, discussed the evolution of Bollywood in the past decade. The column became one of the site's ten most read stories of the day. In her second column, "Odds stacked against Indian women", Zinta analysed the eve teasing phenomenon in India, and criticised those who practice it. She wrote, "Incidences like these take away a woman's dignity, her space and her freedom ... why the state is so helpless in protecting the women. Why should women feel unsafe in a country which had an internationally revered woman prime minister?" The column caught the attention of readers worldwide, and she received thousands of e-mails about it. It was applauded particularly by women for its stand against abuse of Indian women. Her third column, "The darkness that all actors fear", was a more personal column and dealt with her stardom, fans, insecurity and fears as an actor. Her fourth and final column, titled "Facing death in Sri Lanka and Thailand", described her two near-death experiences in late 2004.
Zinta has taken part in several stage shows and world tours since 2001. Her first world tour, a series of concerts called Craze 2001, was performed across the U.S. alongside Anil Kapoor, Aamir Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Gracy Singh. The show faced early cancellation due to the 11 September 2001 attacks, and the team prepared to return to India as soon as possible. However, the shows continued successfully in Canada. In 2002, she participated in the show From India With Love in the UK, along with Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan, Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai. The show took place at two outdoor venues, Manchester's Old Trafford Football Stadium and London's Hyde Park, with over 100,000 spectators. Zinta's largest world tour was in 2004, when she joined a group of stars (Shahrukh Khan, Rani Mukerji, Saif Ali Khan, Arjun Rampal and Priyanka Chopra) in the Temptation 2004 tour. Showcased in over 22 countries across the world, it became Bollywood's most prominent international concert. In 2006, Zinta was part of the Heat 2006 world tour, along with Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, Sushmita Sen and Celina Jaitley.
During her years in the film industry, Zinta has been involved with different charities, and has particularly supported women's causes in India, for instance protesting against female infanticide. She has also participated in AIDS awareness drives and campaigns to clean up Mumbai.
In 2005, along with other Bollywood stars, Zinta performed at the HELP! Telethon Concert raising money for the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The following year, as an ambassador of the Godfrey Phillips National Bravery Movement, Zinta attended a blood donation camp organised by the Rotary Club of Delhi and the Godfrey Phillips Awards. She lent her support to the cause of women's empowerment and promoted blood donation. She said, "Donating blood doesn't kill one but goes on to save somebody's life .... Once blood is donated it becomes universal and might be used by anyone in need, irrespective of community, caste or region. It binds people together."
In 2007, Zinta along with Rani Mukerji, donated Rs 250,000 of her winnings from Kaun Banega Crorepati to the Shimla District Red Cross Society in Himachal Pradesh. In January, Zinta visited Hisar, Haryana, where she spent a day at the army training base to boost the morale of the jawan troops. The visit was conducted for an NDTV show, Jai Jawan, on which entertainers and actors visit Indian troops. While there, she also met children with disabilities at a special school maintained by the army. In August, along with Mumbai-based artist Gurcharan Singh, Zinta painted for the cause of street children for the non-governmental organisation Khushi. In December, she joined the efforts of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to curb human trafficking in India. She spoke on behalf of awareness against the practice, the need for protection and rehabilitation for those rescued from it, and punishment for perpetrators.
Along with Ness Wadia and others, Zinta acquired ownership rights in 2008 for the Mohali-based Twenty20 cricket team of the Indian Premier League (IPL). The group paid $76 million to acquire the franchise, and have since named the team Kings XI Punjab. Until 2009, Zinta was the only woman to own an IPL team, and was the league's youngest owner. She has been involved with launching ticket sales and promoting the team. She said, "My involvement with the team is total. I am extremely passionate about our team and I do believe that I am the team's good luck factor, so I want to be there for everything."
Zinta used to visit her native town Shimla when not busy in shooting. In 2006, she moved into her own home in Mumbai. She does not identify with any particular religion. In an interview with The Times of India, she comments, "I believe in good deeds, in karma, I don't believe in going to temples. For me, religion is very personal. It's all about having faith ... We have heard and read that all religions are equal. Now I am increasingly believing in this." She narrowly escaped death twice in late 2004: first after an explosion at a Temptation concert in Colombo, Sri Lanka; and second during the Indian Ocean earthquake.
Zinta has been the subject of several controversies. In 2003, as a witness in the Bharat Shah case, she testified against the Indian mafia. Bharat Shah, the financer of one of her movies, Chori Chori Chupke Chupke, was arrested in 2000 for having connections with Chhota Shakeel, a Mumbai underworld boss. Unlike several of her colleagues, Zinta repeated in court her earlier statement that she had received extortion threats from the mafia during the shooting of the film. After her testimony, she was given witness protection and was forced to stay out of the public eye for two months. Thirteen other witnesses before her, including celebrities Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan, were witnesses in the case but later retracted their earlier statements. Zinta was the only witness who did not become hostile to the prosecution; the nation responded positively to her actions. Consequently, she was the first recipient of Godfrey's Mind of Steel Award at the annual Red and White Bravery Awards, given to her for the "Courageous Act" of standing against the Mumbai Underworld. On receiving the award, she said: "To be brave is not to be fearless. It is when you fear and you get over it, then you can be called brave. I am human. It is not that I fear nothing. But getting over a fear is a continuous process and I have been successful so far." Since 2006, Zinta has been the brand ambassador for the Godfrey Phillips Bravery awards.
Tabloids have often linked Zinta romantically with other Bollywood stars, but she has strongly denied any such rumours. In 2000, Zinta began dating model Marc Robinson. They separated the following year, and according to Zinta remained on good terms. Asked in Filmfare about their break-up, she spoke of "very, very fond memories of the times we were together and I'd like to keep it to that". Zinta dated the Bombay Dyeing heir, businessman Ness Wadia from February 2005 until May 2009. Their relationship was often reported on by the media, with frequent speculation about an engagement or a break-up. In December 2006, another controversy featured Zinta when Ness Wadia was reported to have attacked construction workers at her residence in Bandra. Reportedly, a woman was critically injured and a child was hurt in the incident. Zinta reacted angrily at hearing these rumours reported in the national news and confronted journalists, criticising their conduct. She challenged the press to deliver proof, and offered Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) if an injured woman was found. No evidence was found and the rumour has subsequently been regarded as false.
In March 2007, Zinta was involved in a scandal when actress and singer Suchitra Krishnamurthy cited her as the cause of her divorce from Shekhar Kapur, alleging that Zinta was having an affair with him. Although initially silent on the issue, after another accusation by Krishnamurthy, Zinta retorted, "It is unfortunate that I am bearing the brunt of someone else's paranoia. She's clearly unstable and I wish her a speedy recovery." She issued a statement that she had met Kapur only five times in ten years and publicly demanded that he step forward and clear her of the accusation. Thereafter, the controversy came to an end.
Zinta is particularly known in the Indian media for her straightforwardness and for honestly expressing her outspoken views and forthright opinions in public, be it about her on-screen or off-screen life or raising a voice against any social injustice. These features were noted during the Bharat Shah Case, when she testified against the underworld; following this incident she was described by journalists as "The only man in Bollywood". Her characteristic dimple has been cited by the media as her trademark. She is often described by the press as having a vivacious personality and a bubbly, outgoing persona, an image she has confessed to disliking.
In 2003, Zinta appeared in the number one spot on Rediff's "Top Bollywood Female Stars". She was ranked second for the following three years. She has been featured frequently on other Rediff lists, including "Bollywood's Most Beautiful Actresses", "Bollywood's Best Dressed Women" and "Woman of Many Faces". In September 2006, the UK magazine Eastern Eye ranked her at 41 in the list of "Asia's Sexiest Women".
On 15 July 2005, Zinta filed a defamation suit against leading Mumbai tabloid Mid-Day after tapes emerged alleging that Salman Khan had made derogatory comments about her. The tabloid published transcripts indicating that she had a sexual relationship with Khan, and she was cross-examined as a chief witness in January 2007. She said about the case, "I felt humiliated as it spoiled my reputation and character in public." She told of disparaging phone calls she received from individuals pretending to be Salman Khan, and that she had been repeatedly questioned in a derogatory fashion by the media. Zinta further stated that the events affected her professionally as well; a planned film with Khan was abandoned. The tape was examined by the Government's Forensic laboratory in Chandigarh which concluded that it was a fake.
Between 2004 and 2007, Zinta made three appearances on the Indian talk show Koffee with Karan, hosted by Karan Johar, appearing with Saif Ali Khan, Abhishek Bachchan and Bobby Deol, respectively. In 2006, she was a guest judge in the singing talent contest Indian Idol 2. She returned briefly to her occupation as a model when she walked the ramp for Manish Malhotra's display Fashion Week 2006, along with actress Kajol. Later that year, Zinta and filmmaker Karan Johar represented Bollywood at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival to promote Johar's forthcoming Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, which featured Zinta in a leading role.
In May 2007, Zinta returned to Cannes for the 60th Film Festival to attend the premiere of My Blueberry Nights, which opened the gathering. She co-hosted the 52nd Filmfare Awards ceremony alongside Shahrukh Khan, Juhi Chawla and Karan Johar. She was selected as the first brand ambassador for GoAir, a new airline service owned by Jehangir Wadia from Wadia Group. Speculation arose in the press that she endorsed the brand as a favour to Jeh, who is Ness Wadia's brother, a suggestion that Zinta quickly denied. May 2008 saw Zinta making her third consecutive appearance at Cannes; she attended the 61st Film Festival as the brand ambassador of Chopard, the maker of luxury watches and jewellery.
|1998||Dil Se||Preeti Nair||Winner, Filmfare Best Female Debut
Award (Newface of the year)
Nomination, Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award
|Soldier||Preeti Singh||Winner, Filmfare Best Female Debut Award (Newface of the year)|
|Premante Idera||Shailu||Telugu film
Dubbed into Hindi as Dulhan Dilwale Ki
|1999||Raja Kumarudu||Rani||Telugu film
Dubbed into Hindi as Prince No. 1
|Sangharsh||CBI Officer Reet Oberoi|
|2000||Kya Kehna||Priya Bakshi||Nomination, Filmfare Best Actress Award|
|Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega||Jahnvi|
|Mission Kashmir||Sufiya Parvez|
|Chori Chori Chupke Chupke||Madhubala (Madhu)||Nomination, Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award|
|Dil Chahta Hai||Shalini|
|Yeh Raaste Hain Pyaar Ke||Sakshi|
|2002||Dil Hai Tumhaara||Shalu|
|2003||The Hero: Love Story of a Spy||Reshma/Ruksar|
|Armaan||Sonia Kapoor||Nomination, Filmfare Best Villain Award.|
|Koi... Mil Gaya||Nisha||Nomination, Filmfare Best Actress Award|
|Kal Ho Naa Ho||Naina Catherine Kapur||Winner, Filmfare Best Actress Award|
|Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa||Dr. Parineeta (Pari)|
|Veer-Zaara||Zaara Haayat Khan||Nomination, Filmfare Best Actress Award|
|2005||Khullam Khulla Pyaar Karen||Priti Damani|
|Salaam Namaste||Ambar 'Amby' Malhotra||Nomination, Filmfare Best Actress Award|
|2006||Alag||Special appearance in song Sabse Alag|
|Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna||Rhea Saran||Nomination, Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award|
|2007||Jhoom Barabar Jhoom||Alvira Khan|
|The Last Lear||Shabnam||First English-language film|
|Om Shanti Om||Herself||Special appearance in song Deewangi Deewangi|
|2008||Heaven on Earth||Chand|
|Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi||Special appearance in song Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte|
|2009||Main Aurr Mrs Khanna||Haseena Jagmagia||Cameo|