Of many rosy tales

Of many rosy tales

Waheeda Rehman travels the film road of recall and vows to help in the preservation and restoration of classics

Waheeda Rehman

A dream sequence of Kalabazar. The beautiful play of light and shade by cinematographer V Ratra made the scene symbolic. A nattily dressed Dev Anand offers Waheeda Rehman cinema tickets purchased in the black market. He pleads, “Alka, yeh ticket tumhare liye.” An annoyed Waheeda Rehman asks, “Raghu, yeh ticket kalabazar ke hai?” Dev Anand is rendered speechless as Waheeda Rehman tears the tickets and throws them away. The police is on the hunt for Dev Anand.

“I really did not know the scene was conceived by Chetan Anand Vijay. Anand wrote and directed it so well,” remembers Waheeda Rehman. The legendary actor was recently in Kolkata to attend the Kolkata International Film Festival. She has a long-lasting connect with the City of Joy. Says Waheeda Rehman, “Pyasa was shot on the banks of Ganges. I am referring to the song picturisation of Jane Kya Tune Kaha. I also worked with Satyajit Ray and Aparna Sen in Abhijan, 15 Park Avenue and Arshinagar.”

Her time in Kolkata

Waheeda Rehman did not know Bengali, yet Satyajit Ray worked on her with utmost care. The iconic actor states, “Manikda eye for minute details was praiseworthy. For one shot with Soumitra Chatterjee, he asked me to smile and look straight into his eyes.

Waheeda Rehman was recently seen in a cameo in Vishwaroopam 2 as Kamal Hasan’s mother. About her acting abilities, she says, “I cannot speak of myself as an actor. I believe in remaining low key and performing naturally. Larger-than-life sequences do not appeal to me and I abhor vulgar scenes and dialogues.” Guru Dutt and Vijay Anand explained to her time and again that cinema may not always be too realistic.

Speaking about her directors, Waheeda Rehman says, “Guru Dutta was innovative and sensitive. If required, he opted for a number of takes.

Vijay Anand’s expertise lay in scripting, directing, editing and acting. Raj Khosla handled emotions and song picturisation well. Basu Bhattacharya, in his maiden film Teesri Kasam, handled actors the right way.”

The essence of women’s liberation was first exploited with sensitivity and aesthetics by Vijay Anand in the song Katon Se Khich Gaye (Guide). Smiles Waheeda Rehman, “It is perhaps the best song I have lipped in films. My dropping of the earthen pot from the lorry, and the pot breaking into pieces, symbolised Rosy’s freedom from the shackles of a sad marriage. Vijay Anand exploited my acting abilities and dancing skills to the hilt in Guide.”

Top-class acting

If Dev Anand was her favourite hero, Waheeda Rehman enjoyed working with almost all the top actors of her era. She explains, “Dev Anand rarely brought out his inner self. Mainly known for romance and style, he was brilliant in Kalabazar and Guide. Raj Kapoor was the best serio-comedian, and Dilip Kumar’s low-key dialogue delivery with piercing looks made him a great actor. Sunil Dutt was versatile as an actor and director.” From the next generation, she picks Sanjeev Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan as gifted actors.

Speaking about Sanjeev Kumar, one cannot forget Namkeen. Compared to her serious acting abilities, Waheeda Rehman’s comic talents have been lesser-used. She sighs, ”Except for Ek Phool Char Kante and Ram Aur Shyam, I never received true scope to perform comedy. I enjoyed saying Dishum Dishum in Ram Aur Shyam, explaining Dilip Kumar fighting the goons.” Her films Insaaf and Phagun were memorable, too. Waheeda Rehman says, ”Rajendra Singh Bedi was a good writer, though not an efficient director. Phagun did not do well.”

Souful tunes

Waheeda Rehman speaks highly of Hemant Kumar. With respect, she admits, “The golden-voiced singer was an effortless composer. As producer, the perfect gentleman that he was, Hemant Kumar never faltered with payments. S D Burman was a fountain of music while Shankar Jaikishan was unpredictable and versatile.”

Lastly referring to film preservation, she says, “Some classics need urgent preservation and restoration. In this context, I pledge all my support to the Film Heritage Foundation.”

Rosy tales never end that easily.