>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.
Zinta with Ness Wadia at the 2007 Giants Day 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.
In the media
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.
Zinta at the 2004 IIFA Awards.
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