Sunday, October 21, 2007

Waheeda Rehman

A timeless beauty

Chaudhavi ka Chand.. that is how the leading lady of the 1950s, Waheeda Rehman is called by her fans. Age is nothing but just a number when it comes to this graceful actress, writes AVINASH KALLA.

The eyes still bewitch, the face still comes alive the way it did in the sixties in films like Guide, Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, Chaudhavi ka Chand and Ram Aur Shyam. It is hard to believe she quit lead roles some three decades ago.
Today Waheeda Rehman is a many-splendoured lady. Much in demand in Bollywood yet picking and choosing only those roles that catch her fancy. More than a star she is a successful entrepreneur and owns Good Earth Foods and Farm House Cereals.

But she’s not bid goodbye to films. She was to star in Karan Johar’s Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham but due to the sudden death of her husband she had to opt out. She later played the mother of Anil Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan and Fardeen Khan in Anupam Kher’s Om Jai Jagdish.

Now after a gap of two years this golden girl of the fifties and sixties is all set to play yet another unusual role - that of a modern-day grandmother in Brides Wanted. “It’s the role of an on-the-go granny whose mental age is no more than that of her young grandson who is bride-hunting. It’s really exciting. I have never played a character quite like this. It was a great experience,” says Waheeda. In the film she and Girish Karnad play grandparents to young actor Anuj Sawhney who is looking for a perfect match for himself. Rather then imposing their choice on him they try and understand what today’s generation wants. So she and her husband go looking for a young lady who would compliment their grandson. But in the process they land themselves in funny situations.

The vintage actress who has worked with the legends of Hindi cinema including Guru Dutt (Pyasaa, Kagaz Ke Phool, Sahib, Biwi Aur Ghulam), Dev Anand (CID, Guide), Raj Kapoor (Teesri Kasam) and Dilip Kumar (Ram Aur Shyam) says she’s still a director’s actress.

The debutant director of Brides Wanted Girish Acharya is overwhelmed by her dedication and commitment to work. “Not for a moment did she make me feel I was a newcomer. She would simply act the way I told her to act,” he says.
Today Waheeda is not lured by the attractive offers pouring in from films and television. “I’d hate to do tear-jerking motherly roles. I much rather prefer to meet up with old friends over a lunch and be with my son and daughter Sohail and Kashvi.”

Take her down the memory lane, quiz her about the most satisfying performance and this recipient of National Award for Reshma aur Shera (1971) and three Filmfare awards feels her best performance was in Guide. “That still remains my personal favourite. I just fell in love with Rosie - the role I played. The character had so much emotional depth and the dances were just amazing,” reminisces Waheeda Rehman.

Waheeda is a complete fitness freak and even though she has recurring problem of spondylitis, the gritty actress makes it a point not to miss out on her daily schedule of practicing yoga. “I learnt yoga in Mumbai many years ago, from a personal trainer and after shifting base to Bangalore, I did an extensive course at the Bihar School of Yoga. It keeps me agile and active throughout the day,” says Waheeda.

Ask this diva of sixties her beauty secret and a radiant smile brightens her face, “Have you got your answer? Yes my secret is being positive, smiling a lot and laughing. You can never grow old if you practice all three. Your energy levels keep getting renewed.”

Energy she has in plenty. “There’s so much to do,” she says as she casts a furtive glance at her wristwatch.

Yes, at 68 there’s so much to do that this rebellious Rosie of Guide has little time to sit on her laurels.

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