The first Centenary Award for the Indian Film personality will be given today to Waheeda Rehman, the immensely talented veteran actress, at the 44th IFFI.
The first Centenary Award for the Indian Film Personality will be given today to Waheeda Rehman, the gorgeous and immensely talented veteran actress whose performances have won appreciation, awards and numerous fans through several decades.
The award has been introduced this year at the 44th IFFI comprises a trophy, a cash component of Rs. 10 lakh (Rs. 1 million) and a citation.
The ‘Quintessential Beauty of Bollywood’ is known as much for her performance as for her choice of roles. Her under-toned approach to essay a character added a landmark shine to the golden era of Hindi films.
Born in Chengalpattu near Chennai in 1936, Waheeda Rehman began her career with Tamil and Telugu movies and went on to work with Gemini Ganesan in Kaalam Maari Pochu in 1955, a bilingual film which was made in Tamil and in Telugu as Rojulu Maraayi. Guru Dutt happened to see the Telugu version of this film and offered her a role in C.I.D.
CID marked the advent of this gifted artist who redefined the role of Hindi film heroine by breaking away from the theatrical style prevalent in the 1940’s and 1950’s.
With her mentor Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman struck a successful on-screen pairing that delivered classic films such as Pyaasa (1957). Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam (1962) and Chaudhvin Ka Chaand.
Apart from Guru Dutt, Waheeda Rehman’s other successful on-screen partnership was with the charismatic Dev Anand. Together the duo delivered superhit films such as C.I.D. (1956), Solva Saal (1958), Kala Bazar (1960), Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962) and of course, the classic Guide. These films were known for their tight direction, engaging storyline, superb performances and superhit music.
Along with her superb acting talents, Waheeda Rehman was a trained Bharatnatyam dancer that helped filmmakers to exploit her dancing skills in films that had a significant component of dance and music.
For instance, in the Vijay Anand-directed Guide, Waheeda Rehman had to do several creative dances, some with songs and some without. When the film ran to up to extra long length and needed some tough editing, Waheeda requested for her dances to be retained, even if other scenes needed to be chopped.
Impressed by her enigmatic screen persona and acting panache, Satyajit Ray picked her for the role of Gulabi in his celebrated Bengali film Abhijan.
Waheeda Rehman’s riveting performances with other stalwarts like Dilip Kumar (Ram aur Shyam, Dil Diya Dard Liya), Raj Kapoor (Teesri Kasam) and Biswajeet (Bees Saal Baad, Kohra) gave movie buffs some of the most memorable films of the Golden Era of Hindi cinema.
She won the Filmfare Best Actress Award for her role in Guide (1965), where she was competing with none other than Suchitra Sen’s Mamta. In fact, Waheeda was rather surprised to be told that she had won the award, she admitted recently in a TV interview. But her spontaneous portrayal of a dancer’s struggle to leave behind a failing marriage and carve out a successful career with the help of the mentor, friend and guide Raju (Dev Anand), gave her the edge over her illustrious competitor.
She also won the Filmfare Best Actress Award for Neel Kamal (1968) and the National Award for Reshma Aur Shera (1971).
But her biggest hit came with the Asit Sen-directed Khamoshi (1970) where she played the dedicated nurse Radha Mitra who cures two patients suffering from acute mania (played by Dharmendra and Rajesh Khanna) and herself succumbs to insanity. Considering the fact that Khamoshi was Asit Sen’s remake of his own Bengali hit Dweep Jele Jai, where Suchitra Sen had essayed the same role to huge accolades, Waheeda Rehman had a tough benchmark to meet. And she met it with élan!
Never the one to shy away from challenging roles, Waheeda Rehman had no qualms about playing Amitabh Bachchan’s mother in Yash Chopra’s Trishul after having played Amitabh’s wife in Chopra’s Kabhie Kabhie. She did two other acclaimed films with Yash Chopra, Mashaal (1984) and Chandni (1989).
In fact, she gracefully switched to powerful character roles in films such as Prakash Mehra’s Namak Halaal (1982), Gulzar’s Namkeen (1982), Mahesh Bhatt’s telefilm Swayam, Aparna Sen’s 15, Park Avenue and Rakesh Omprakash Mehra’s Rang De Basanti (2006) and Delhi 6 (2009).
Waheeda Rehman was honoured with Padma Shri in 1972 and with Padma Bhushan in 2011. In 2004, a Waheeda Rehman Film Retrospective was held at the Seattle Arts Museum and the University of Washington.
“The first Centenary Award to Waheeda Rehman acknowledges the creative contribution of an artist who opted for roles which were much more than just the appealing shadow of the male actors of the times,” said an IFFI release.
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