Born in: Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh
Waheeda Rehman is a famous Indian actress, who ruled over Bollywood in the late 1950s and 1960s. The epitome of Indian classical beauty, she was one of the most graceful actresses of the yesteryears. Who can forget the soulful song ‘Chaudhvi Ka Chand Ho, Ya Aftab Ho’, picturized on her? An extremely versatile actress, she could portray the role of a femme fatale as well as a prostitute, with equal elan. With time, she moved on from lead roles to character roles and even today, she is one of the most respected members of the Indian film fraternity.
Childhood and Early Life
Waheeda Rehman was born on 14th May 1936, in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, into a traditional Muslim family. Her father was a DM (District Magistrate), which resulted in the family moving from one city in the South to another. However, he ultimately settled in Vizag and it was here that she was brought up and had her schooling. Though Rehman had dreamt of becoming a doctor, fate had something else planned for her. Due to some infection in her lungs, she had to drop out of school.
This ended her dream of attaining a medical degree. Just like most of the females born in South India, Rehman also underwent trained in the classical dance of Bharatnatyam. As if the shattering of her dream was not enough, she had to go through two more tragedies. In 1948, when she was hardly 12 year old, her dad passed away. By the time she came to terms with her loss, another tragedy had struck her. Rehman lost her mom within a few years. Alone in this world, she strived to chart out a path in her life.
Waheeda Rehman made her debut in the Telugu film industry, with the movie ‘Jaisimha’ (1955). It was followed by another Telugu film, ‘Rojulu Maraayi’, released the same year. It was around that time only that Guru Dutt spotted the charming beauty and brought her to Mumbai. He cast her as a vamp in his production ‘C.I.D.’ (1956). From there on, started her career as one of the most popular actresses of Bollywood. Next, she was seen in a leading role in Guru Dutt’s ‘Pyaasa’ (1957).
In Pyaasa, she played the role of a prostitute, with a heart of gold, and managed to win the heart of everyone, including Guru Dutt. It is said that it was around the shooting of this film that Guru Dutt fell in love with Rehman. She again paired with Dutt, for the movie ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’ (1959). The film was believed to be Guru Dutt’s autobiography, as it was based on the story of a successful director's downfall after he falls in love with his leading lady. Though both of them were excellent in the film, its somber mood didn’t go down well with the audience.
The marital status of Guru Dutt and the rising success of Rehman ultimately led to a breakup between the two. However, not even at a single point of time in her life did Rehman say anything about her relationship with Guru Dutt. Till date, she maintains a stoic silence on the topic. Even after breaking apart personally, Dutt and Rehman continued to appear in films together. They did ‘Chaudhvin Ka Chand’ in 1960 and followed it with ‘Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam’, in 1962. It is said that they did the latter one under great strain.
Rehman and Dutt parted ways after Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam’s screening at the Berlin Film Festival. Though the film received indifferent reception at the festival, it was much acclaimed in India and even won the President's Silver Medal. The year 1963 saw her in a dacoit drama ‘Mujhe Jeene Do’. In 1964, Dutt had the dangerous concoction of alcohol and sleeping pills and breathed his last in his Pedder Road home. The same year, she was seen in ‘Kohra’, a re-make of Hitchcock's ‘Rebecca’.
In 1965, Rehman was seen in ‘Guide’, one of the most successful films of her career, and also won Filmfare Best Actress Award for the same. Then, she acted in ‘Teesri Kasam’ and ‘Dil Diya Dard Liya’, in 1966. ‘Patthar Ke Sanam’ and ‘Ram Aur Shyam’ were her movies in 1967, both of which were big hits of that time. Her next film ‘Neel Kamal’ (1968), won her another Filmfare Best Actress Award. ‘Khamoshi’ (1969) and ‘Reshma aur Shera’ (1971) were her other major films, with the latter winning her a National Award for Best Actress.
With time, especially with the onset of 1980s, Waheeda Rehman moved on to character roles. She was often seen playing the mother of Amitabh Bachchan. ‘Namak Halaal’, ‘Himmatwala’, Mahaan’, ‘Coolie’, ‘Mashaal’ and ‘Chandni’ were some of her major films of that time. She was seen in ‘Lamhe’ in 1991, after which she took a sabbatical from work. She came back to films in 2002, playing mother to Anil Kapoor, Fardeen Khan and Abhishek Bachchan in ‘Om Jai Jadgish’ Her latest films are ‘Water’ (2005), ‘15 Park Avenue’ (2005) and ‘Rang De Basanti’ (2006).
Waheeda Rehman is said to have a brief affair with Guru Dutt, though she has refused to comment on it all her life. She married Kanwaljeet Singh, who starred opposite her in ‘Shagun’, on 27th April 1974. Thereafter, she moved from Mumbai and settled in her farmhouse in Bangalore. The couple had two kids - Sohail and Kashvi. Kanwaljeet left for the holy abode on 21st November 2000, after a prolonged illness. After the death of her husband, Rehman moved back to Mumbai and settled in her sea-facing Bandra bungalow, where she lives now.
1971 - National Award for Best Actress, for Reshma Aur Shera.
1965 - Filmfare Best Actress Award, for Guide
1968 - Filmfare Best Actress Award, for Neel Kamal
1994 - Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award
1956 - CID
1957 - Pyaasa
1958 - 12 O'Clock, Solva Saal
1959 - Kaagaz Ke Phool
1960 - Kala Bazar, Ek Phool Char Kaante, Chaudhvin Ka Chand
1962 - Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Bees Saal Baad, Baat Ek Raat Ki
1963 - Mujhe Jeene Do
1964 - Kohra
1965 - Guide
1966 - Teesri Kasam, Dil Diya Dard Liya
1967 - Patthar Ke Sanam, Ram Aur Shyam
1968 - Neel Kamal, Aadmi
1969 - Khamoshi
1970 - Prem Pujari
1971 - Reshma Aur Shera
1973 - Phagun
1976 - Aadalat, Kabhi Kabhie
1978 - Trishul
1982 - Sawaal, Namak Halaal
1983 - Himmatwala, Mahaan, Coolie
1984 - Mashaal
1989 - Chandni
1991 - Lamhe
2002 - Om Jai Jagadish
2005 - Water, Maine Gandhi Ko Nahin Mara, 15 Park Avenue
2006 - Rang De Basanti
2006 - Chukkallo Chandrudu
2008 - Dilli 6