Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai
When she smiles and raises her hand in aadab, sheer radiance fills the entire room with a beautiful feeling. Meet the ever charming, sophisticated and graceful Waheeda Rehman. Metrolife talks to one of Bollywood’s original ‘divas’, who is being honoured with a retrospective of her films at the ongoing Habitat Film Festival.
Her aadayagi and dance, immortalised in songs like Aaj phir jeene ki tamanna hai (Guide) and Paan khaye saiyaan hamaro (Teesri Kasam) still hold you
“It was for the love of my dance that I took up movies but Vyjantimalaji remained my favourite dancer. Since I played a dancer in three of my films, almost every director of mine insisted on adding a dance number but I replied that such a song should be justified in the script.”
Were the dance numbers a reason for her accepting Guide?
“I accepted the offer because I liked the script. It wasn’t a usual love story because here the love happens later and that too between a married woman and a tourist guide because Rosy wanted to dance and Raju allowed her what her husband could not. Today progressive subjects are tried in the industry but a subject like this wasn’t normal 45 years ago!”
“I love being an actress but it is according to age only that one can play and justify a character,” she says defining her choice of roles and emphasising the need to change with time. “I can maximum look 20-25 years younger not beyond that. I have accepted my age and to continue working, you have to change. Look at Amitabh Bachchan, he has changed playing the characters he used to. He can’t play Zanjeer’s police officer today because viewers will not accept it. You tell me, will you accept me as Rosy today?” she questions but confesses, “At times an artist falls in love with a subject and becomes too selfish to think about the commercial aspect of the movie. Like I did in Khamoshi.”
Her co-star Rajesh Khanna has recently passed away. “One reality we all forget is that we all have to go.”
Her experimentation in work has led Waheeda to play the onscreen mother several times. However, playing mother to Jaya Bhaduri in Phagun (in 1973) was excessively criticised. “When Phagun released, people said that I should have done a double role, that of mother and daughter both. Even today people say that I started doing a mother’s role too early but these are talks of those days. Today the approach is very broadminded.”
“People keep telling me ‘Yours was the golden era’ but I feel that the present time is the golden era, thanks to multiplexes which are promoting all kinds of cinema among audiences. I like the new trend which accommodates films like Kahaani, The Dirty Picture, Pan Singh Tomar to its credit,” she signs off.