Kamini, Gulabo, Rosie, Nurse Radha, Savitri Devi or Daai Jaan……..the audience can relate to every character she has played on screen. Waheeda Rehman opted for roles which were much more than just alluring and went on to become an icon. Breaking some traditions and sagas, she became first amongst the actresses who did not remain confined to the histrionics of Hindi Cinema. Her acting was not depicted and she performed in a restrained manner. Yet her characters came alive on screen with a sense of natural feeling. She has frequently tended to kindle stellars. Her sensuous good looks braced with exquisite grace and immense talent ensured that she earned her place amidst the shrine of great actresses. Her classic beauty has captivated a generation of cine goers and her acting skills have fascinated all the cine lovers.
With a most stunning debut in CID, she continued adding to her repertoire, movies like Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam, Chaudavin ka Chaand, Guide, Mujhe Jeene Do, Khamoshi, Teesri Kasam, Bees Saal Baad and Shagoon, where she romanced her future husband, Kamaljeet (Shashi Rekhi). She has been as controlled and dignified in her personal life as she had always been in her professional one. She was the queen bee and a celebrated dancer of her era. Yet she’s still loved by today’s audiences. She has gracefully metamorphosed herself from a leading lady to a character actor, carrying her grey crowning glory with pride and poise.
Here’s a small look in her dignified journey as an actress.
Her character, Rosie, the daughter of a prostitute and married to a researcher, who is much older to her, to gain respect. She is forced to give up her dance, since women from respectable families do not indulge in such hobbies. Ignored and uncared, until she meets the local guide, Raju. It is Raju who unleashes the storm inside her when he asks her to take up dancing once again. She dances with spontaneity and wanton desire of a liberated soul.
“Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai, aaj phir marne ka irada hai……….”
Lamhe ( 1991)
She plays the role of Daai Jaan, who is a governess to the protagonist Kunwar Virendra Pratap Singh (Anil Kapoor). Affectionately called Daai Jaan, she is more than a family for the Kunwar. The movie has beautiful parody involving yesteryear songs enacted by Sridevi, Anupam Kher, Anil Kapoor. While the graceful Waheeda Rehman, dances her way into audience’s hearts through her signature song again. Watch the enthusiasm on her face while she dances. Bringing back the unmatched nostalgia of ‘Guide’ with her.
Mujhe Jeene Do (1963)
Breathtaking Waheeda Rehman plays a courtesan. She’s performing at a wedding where the dacoits infiltrate. Sunil Dutt, the dacoit is smitten by her and so are the audiences. Waheeda Rehman oozes sensuality. Her expressions on dot and her chemistry with Sunil Dutt is crackling.
Almost 2 decades later, Waheeda Rehman, plays a courtesan again in an off beat Gulzar film. A very matured Waheeda Rehman performing mujra while Ram Mohan is seen bewitched by her. Her mannerisms are as graceful and sensual as in the above mujra from “MUjhe Jeene Do”.
Teesri Kasam (1966)
A long road trip and an unusual love between a nautanki dancer and a village simpleton. Watch Waheeda dance to the playful and teasing tune of “Paan khaaye saiyyan hamaro………..” penned in a local rustic language. Playing the role, was a bold move for an actress of the time, since in the film, the fact that she is not ‘pure’ is mentioned, and while she loses the chance to be ‘respectable’.
Delhi 6 (2009)
An aged Waheeda Rehman playing a grandmother to Abhishek Bachchan. Both of them are visiting India to their ancestral property in crowded Delhi. Waheeda Rehman appears as natural as you and me. She grabs your attention when she bursts into a dance for “Sasural genda phool…..” keeping her charm intact as she matches the steps to modern dance. A song which seems to be inspired from a folklore, it is a treat to watch Waheeda when she lip syncs….”bush shirt paheine, khaaike bida paan……” aren’t you reminded of “Paan khayo saiyyan?”
Kala Bazar (1960)
A dazzlingly beautiful Alka, played by her, steals your heart with not only her beauty and charm but also with a childlike innocence. Yet, the character was very ahead of her times. Falling in love twice. Waheeda Rehman brings in a sort of tranquility in the character when she declares her love for Dev Anand. Uninhibited and spontaneous.
Cadbury Dairy Milk Ad
This 78 year old beauty hasn’t stopped just charming the audience of the Hindi Cinema but also the television viewers. The Cadbury Dairy Milk ad brings out all the innocence and the childlike naughtiness in her. Watch her eat that last piece and then smile triumphantly!
The shelf-life of a heroine is very limited. But I feel that a true artiste should never retire. Even now, I can’t say no to a role that excites me. But I don’t see films as my career any longer. I do it for the fun and satisfaction.” ( The Hindu, 2009)
– says the eternal beauty.
Waheeda Rehman went on to produce her very own film ‘Om Jai Jagadish’ which met with considerable success. She acted with accomplished film makers of today, in films like ‘Water’, ‘Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara’, ’15 Park Avenue’, and ‘Rang De Basanti’. She was highly appreciated in all her recent roles, still having the power to amaze and enrapture every one with her beauty and talent. With her beauty, grace and ability, Waheeda Rehman has transcended Hindi Cinema.