Waheeda Rehman like many other contemporary actresses began her career in the South Indian cinema. She was born in the erstwhile state of Hyderabad in a Muslim family on 14th May 1936. Initially, Waheeda had dreamt of becoming a doctor. But destiny willed otherwise and she could not undergo proper schooling, due to some infection in her lungs.
Prodded on by her helpful parents, she hit the silver screen with
, a Telghu film in 1955. However, it was her stellar role in ‘Rojulu Marayi
' released the same year that brought her in limelight. The late
spotted her talent and brought her to Mumbai. Raj Khosla
gave her the role of a courtesan in his directorial venture
. (1956). Being an accomplished Bharatnatyam dancer Waheeda created a magical spell with her song ‘Kahin Pe Nigahein Kahin Pe Nishana' as she played the wily seductress to lure the villain away. Soon after she was cast in Guru Dutt's epoch making film
. Here again she played a prostitute albeit differently. She is shown to possess a heart of gold. Pyaasa made Waheeda Rehman a sought after entity of Filmistan.
It is said that at this point she got involved in an unsuccessful love affair with the tragedy king Guru Dutt.
Kagaz Ke Phool
(1959) depicted the story of the forlorn lovers – Dutt and Rehman. Slowly, the famous relationship started waning and ended with the death of Guru Dutt in 1964. By this time, she had appeared in numerous movies like
Solva Saal, Twelve O' Clock
, and Kaala Baazar
, the doyen of Indian filmdom caste her in his flick Abhijaan
(1964). But it was
in which she played a nymph, opposite Dev Anand
that Waheeda Rehman touched the zenith of her career. Guide won her international critical claim as an actress. Her captivating performances in
Pathar Ke Sanam
(1967) and Neel Kamal
(1968) affirmed her as an undisputed monarch of her domain.
Shakil Badayuni's immortal verse "Chandi Ka Chand Ho
..." found its embodiment in flesh and blood in Waheeda Rehman which remains her most successful film and named after the same song. Among her other famous films are Ram Aur Shyam, Kabhi Kabhi, Bees Saal Baad, Prem Pujari, Mujhe Jeene Do, Kohra, Teesri Kasam, Khamoshi, Reshma Aur Shabnam, and Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam. In these films, she played roles ranging from spectacular to very average ones.
In 1974, Waheeda married a fellow actor and a businessman Kamaljit
and settled for a quiet life on a farmhouse adjacent to Bangalore. Waheeda was blessed with two children Sohail and Kashvi. Post marriage she appeared in Kabhi Kabhie, Adalat, Namak Halal, Chaandhi and Lamhe. She was to figure in the latest multi-starrer flick ‘Kabhie Khushi Kabhi Gaam
' but the sad demise of her husband could not make it happen. But to the delight of her fans, she did make an appearance in
Om Jai Jagdish
, where she played the mother of trio Anil Kapoor, Fardeen Khan and Abhishek Bachan. And now people are waiting for the release of her satirical comedy
– based upon the effects of neo-socio- cultural transformations that are taking place in the social structure of NRI Diaspora.
Waheeda Rehman got the Filmfare
award for Guide in 1967 and Neel Kamal in 1969. She got the National Award for
Reshma and Shera
. Perhaps the greatest compliment, she has ever received is from her daughter, who during the course of her
cinematography study, phoned her from Toronto to tell her that she had seen her film ‘Pyasa'. When Waheeda remarked that how it had taken such a long time for her to see her classic, Kashvi revealed that it was part of academic course at the University of Toronto!
And at top of the compliments, she has received remains the remark by Big B on many occasions that Waheeda Rehman is the most beautiful woman, he has ever come across in his lifetime.
To date Waheeda remains energetic, bubbly and full of life as ever. She looks after her family besides, lending a helping hand to a Mumbai based charity called