By REDIFF MOVIES
Mumbai, September 27: The luminous Waheeda Rehman will be honoured with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award this year, the highest national recognition for achievements in Indian cinema.
The 85-year-old actor is celebrated for her elegant performances and it’s time to take a short trip into her younger years and understand why this award is most befitting for her ageless talent.
Waheedaji, who was born in then Madras state, made her debut with the Dev Anand starrer CID in 1956.
Waheedaji was recently seen in 2021’s must-watch Skater Girl in a brief but pivotal role.
The movie saw her return to shoot in Udaipur, 54 years after she filmed parts of her iconic film Guide there.
Long before Guide, Waheedaji was a constant in Guru Dutt’s films, having starred in classics like Pyaasa, Kagaz Ke Phool, Chaudavin Ka Chand, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam.
Before she made her Hindi debut, Waheedaji starred in 1955’s Telugu film Jayasimha, opposite N T Rama Rao, above.
Her crowning glory will always be Dev Anand’s classic Guide.
And to think, she almost didn’t do it.
Like Sukanya Verma says, ‘Guide is as glamorous as it is soulful — a perfect marriage of aesthetics and intelligence, gamble and gravy.’
Waheedaji did seven films with Dev Anand: CID, Solva Saal, Kaala Bazar, Baat Ki Raat Ki, Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja, Guide and Prem Pujari, the first film Devsaab directed.
The two movie legends shared a warm relationship and on his birth centenary, she can’t help but wonder, “Was I his favourite co-star? I don’t know. He got along very well with several other heroines, but I would like to feel that he had a special place in his heart for me, as I do in my heart to this day.”
Actresses in those days did get along, and Waheedaji remains close friends with Asha Parekhji and Helenji. Yes, they party together even today!
Her other close friend was the late actor Nandaji.
‘We had been friends for 55 years, ever since we worked together in Vijay Anand’s Kala Bazaar. Girl friends tend to drift away after marriage due to certain responsibilities but Nanda and I remained close friends even after I got married,’ Waheedaji had said.
The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is a fitting honour to this incomparable actor, who calls it a double celebration.
“I’m very happy and doubly happy because it is Dev Anand’s birthday. I think, ‘taufa unko milna tha, mujhe mil gaya’,” Waheedaji told PTI.
“It is very wonderful that his celebration is going on and I get this honour. I’m really happy and grateful to the government that they chose me for this honour. So it is a combination and celebration of this and Dev sahab’s 100th birth anniversary,” she said.
“I’m not working these days. I don’t expect anything, I never expect any award. I think milna hai toh milega, if they think it is right for me, I’ll get it it, that’s all.”