An icon for the film lovers and iconoclast for the professionals, Waheeda Rehman will be honoured with the first Centenary Award for the Indian Film personality at the 44th International Film Festival of India (IFFI). The award has been introduced this year and the veteran actor will receive the trophy on the opening day of the festival. It consists of a cash component of Rs. 10 lakh and a citation.
The ‘Quintessential Beauty of Bollywood’ is known as much for her performance as for her choice of roles. Her undertoned approach to essay a character added a landmark shine to the golden era of Hindi films. Born in Chengalpattu near Chennai in 1936, Waheeda Rehman began her career with Tamil and Telugu movies and went on to work with Gemini Ganesan in ‘Kaalam Maari Pochu’ in 1955. Guru Dutt happened to see the Telugu version of this film and offered her a role in ‘C.I.D.’. With this, the Indian screen was gifted with an artist who redefined the Hindi film heroine by breaking away from the theatrical style prevalent in the 1940’s and 1950’s. The pairing of Waheeda Rehman with Guru Dutt treated the cinegoers with such marvels as ‘Pyasa’. ‘ Kaghaz Ke Phool’, ‘Saheb Bibi aur Ghulam’ and ‘ Chudhvin ka Chaand’. Her riveting performance also impressed the other stalwarts like Dilip Kumar (Ram aur Shayam, Dil Diya Dard Liya), Raj Kapoor (Teesri Kasam) and Dev Anand (Guide). Her stint with the younger artists has equally been marked with elegance and excellence. She is remembered with the same fondness for her roles in ‘Reshma aur Shera’, ‘Kabhie Kabhie’, ‘Khamoshi’, ‘Delhi-6’and ‘Rang De Basanti’.
A persona oozing grace and grandeur, Waheeda Rehmaan won the National Award for the Best Actor in 1971 for ‘Reshma Aur Shera’ and Filmfare Awards in 1966 for ‘Guide’ and in 1968 for ‘Neel Kamal’. She was honoured with Padma Shri in 1972 and with Padma Bhushan in 2011. In 2004, a Waheeda Rehman Film Retrospective was held at the Seattle Arts Museum and the University of Washington.
The first Centenary Award to Waheeda Rehman acknowledges the creative contribution of an artist who opted for roles which were much more than just the appealing shadow of the male actors of the times.