Almost 48 years after she enthralled the audience as the young and vulnerable wife of an aging archaeologist in the film Guide,veteran actor Waheeda Rehman still carries strains of that impish charm behind the now crinkled smile and the silver mane.
Dressed in a pale-green and gold sari,the 77-year-old says,It has been so long since I came to Pune. She makes herself comfortable on a sofa,crossing her legs gracefully,as she talks of her six decades spent in the film industry. People keep asking me,have things changed and I always say,of course they have. But that doesn’t mean that they have changed for the worse, she says firmly. To grow,to improve,one has to change,otherwise what is the point? We will all be static, says Rehman,last seen on the silver screen in 2009 in Rakeysh Omprakash Mehras Delhi 6.
Mumbai-based Rehman was in Pune on a balmy Monday afternoon to receive the 16th Umed Awards,along with singer Usha Uthup and Marathi actor Dilip Prabhawalkar,among others. As she talks about her co-actors of the 50s to 70s,there is a hint of nostalgia in her voice. I had the good fortune of working with all the greatest actors of my time. Dev Anand,Dilip saab,Raj Kapoor,Guru Dutt,all of them were such a pleasure to work with, she says. When asked to pick her favourite co-actor,she takes a moment to ponder. It will have to be Dev. I have done so many films with him,from CID to Guide, she says,adding that the latter remains one of her most acclaimed performances. Years later,I was coaxed by Yash Chopra to perform one of the songs from Guide for his film Lamhe (1998), she says adding with a smile,that she performed the same choreographed piece in a single take.
Rehman,who has worked with the brooding director and actor Guru Dutt in Pyaasa (1957),12 OClock (1958), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959),Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam and Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1961),says that she always thought of him more as a filmmaker than a co-actor. My first Hindi film CID,was produced by him, she says.
As the discussion inevitably drifts to old classics being re-made,Rehman presents a surprising point of view. I dont see what the fuss is all about. It is a cycle,you see. Old things are remade and then worked upon countless times, she says. When asked whether she would mind Guide being remade,she replies,Not at all. Id love Vidya Balan or Sonam Kapoor to play Rosie. Both of them are wonderful actors; Vidya is a great dancer and Sonam has that lean,graceful dancers poise, she says graciously.
So after almost 60 years in the industry,are there any roles she wishes she had played? Id have loved to play Mother India, she says. Dont laugh because Im an old woman now,but Id have loved to play Geet in Jab We Met. It is such a wonderful film,with so many romantic meet-cutes. But sadly,Im not working on any new project. Scripts keep coming,but I pick and choose, she adds.