Waheeda Rehman has been representing the ethical values of a woman in Hindi films with which a traditional Indian woman has been seen. She is a unique actress, who by playing memorable and unforgettable roles for five decades, not only gave high heights to Hindi cinema but also opened many doors of entertainment. The Government of India has taken the decision to honor this great actor with the ‘Dada Saheb Phalke Award’ at a time when the historic ‘Nari Shakti Vandan Act’ has been passed in the Parliament.
Waheeda Rehman has been wowing millions of audiences from generation to generation with memorable and sensitive roles. Whose acting, like love, can be cherished in a safe corner of the mind? It has hitched into the minds of the audience as a mark of glory. Her charming image, gestures and nuances of dance captivate the audience at once. This unique and wonderful actress has been seen on the screen as the most beautiful creation of nature. The love and respect that she has received from countless audiences through her impressive acting is amazing, till date no actress has been able to match the depth of her acting. The decision to honor WaheedaRehman with the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, who has given sensitive and indomitable dignity to the characters with her acting skills, is an event that makes everyone proud.
Certainly, it is a happy coincidence that when the country is celebrating the birth centenary of the beloved actor Dev Anand, at the same time, Waheeda Rehman, the actress of his classic film Guide, was announced the highest honor of Indian cinema. Interesting fact is also that the pair of Waheeda Rehman and Dev Saheb dominated the silver screen for a long time. Both of them did seven films together, out of which five were huge hits.
The most attractive aspect of Waheeda Rehman’s personality is that from the beginning of her film career till now, she has worked only on her own terms and her upbringing played a major role in this. In childhood, when she was learning Bharat Natyam, a relative had complained to her District Magistrate father, ‘Will you make your daughter dance after being a Muslim? Preferring progress, father’s answer was that art is not a bad thing, human thoughts are bad.
Waheeda Rehman’s acting has not only been appreciated by the big screen audience of Hindi films, but she has also ruled the audience of Telugu, Tamil and Bengali films. She is known for her contributions to various genres of films of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Born on 3 February 1936, this great artist has many characteristics and eccentricities. Considered one of the most accomplished actresses of Hindi cinema, Waheedaji has received one National Film Award and three Filmfare Awards. Rahman was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India in 1972 and the Padma Bhushan in 2011. She has worked in more than 90 films.
At this stage of her career, Rahman started experimenting with more challenging roles. She accepted the offer to play Jaya Bhaduri’s mother in Phagun (1973).Waheeda Rehman’s successful films in the new innings of the 70s included Kabhi Kabhie (1976), Trishul (1978), Jwalamukhi (1980), Naseeb (1981), Namkeen (1982), DharamKanta (1982), Namak Halal (1982). ),Coolie (1983), Mashaal (1984), Chandni (1989) and Lamhe (1991).Namkeen, Chandni and Lamhe received nominations for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress. After his appearance in Lamhe (1991), he announced a sabbatical from the film industry. The way Waheeda Rehman is living her life at the age of 85, she is an inspiration for all women, and she has a unique and meaningful way of living. Often at this age, women get affected by some disease or lose hope of living, but Waheeda Rehman inspired her fans through photography and scuba diving at this age, she is praiseworthy. In such a situation, even at this age, she is an example for other women of her age.
Waheeda will always be appreciated and remembered for many films in her acting career spanning over half a century, but the entire spectrum of her acting can be understood from three films – Guide, Teesri Kasam and Khamoshi. Guide’s character ‘Rosie’ is like a proclamation of women’s liberation in which women of that era did not have the desire to break various types of restrictions and taboos? When Waheeda embodied Aaj Phir Jeene Ke Tamanna Hai, AajPhir Marne Ka Irada Hai on screen, it was as if the suppressed desire of the entire women’s society had found expression. Today, when the discussion of women’s liberation is in front of us in new forms, and sometimes it appears in a very indecent form, then the character of Rosie shows us a decent path. Despite being in a disrespectful profession, Heerabai of ‘Teesri Kasam’ starts looking respectable and loved due to Waheeda’s pure beauty, innocent feelings, unexpressed pain and innocent sweet voice.
Gulabo of ‘Pyaasa’ is a prostitute, but her sensitive expressions also seem innocent and natural due to her skillful and excellent acting style. Waheeda’s cheerful and flirtatious acts in ‘Saheb, Biwi Aur Ghulam’ immersed the audience in a sweet feeling and they started humming along with her, ‘Bhanwara is bada nadan hai…’ In ‘Chaudhwin Ka Chand’, the traditional lady who loves her husband deeply and whose young mind would not have cherished a devoted wife like Waheeda. Certainly Waheeda is different, her attire and make-up were also special, decent and dignified. A rare talent, a soft-spoken woman, who has been described by great personalities of the world as a brilliant artist, whose soul is as pure and sensitive as a poet. WaheedaRehman, dressed in simple fashion, whose characters are also known for their determination and frankness. Favorite actress of filmmakers like Yash Chopra, Prakash Mehra, Manmohan Desai, Mahesh Bhatt, Raj Khosla and Gulzar, Waheeda stands at a place where today’s actresses start gasping at the thought of reaching.
She is an inspiration for budding actresses. Now even after so many years, the shine of ‘Guide’ is increasing. ‘Time Magazine’ has given a new insight to the importance of Indian cinema by discussing this classic film while doing an in-depth analysis of Hindi cinema. Needless to say, no other film could create the same place that ‘Guide’ did in Indian cinema. The spiritual height achieved by a romantic drama film is unmatched. Waheeda Rehman is unmatched in the role of Rosie. No other heroine could have played this role better than Waheeda.
The gestures and expressions of her dance are rare in Hindi cinema. With such immortal films, Waheeda Rehman has created new milestones in Indian cinema; her films can be considered as a living museum. When we tell our future generations about Waheeda Rehman, an influential, great and vibrant actress of the golden era of Indian cinema, we will be able to say that this is Waheeda Rehman, who used her soul in the acting.
By Lalit Garg,
Writer, Journalist, Columnist