Waheeda Rehman has won the Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, and was personally congratulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Even for an actress who has, over five decades of her film career, achieved everything an artiste can aim or hope for — evergreen movies, awards, national recognition, seminal work with appeal, the greatest of legends as co-stars, films across industries and languages, relevance in each decade and an exceptional flair to reinvent oneself with changing times and scripts — the Dadasaheb Phalke Award, recognised as the highest honour that can bestowed on any artiste in Indian cinema, must have come as a great joy.
What’s more, the Dadasaheb recognition for “outstanding contribution to growth and development of Indian cinema” bestowed by the Government of India’s ministry of information and broadcasting not only recognises her art but also her social spirit and a lifetime of helping the poor.
Earlier, she has won the Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri, and was personally congratulated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who wrote, “Her journey in Indian cinema has left an indelible mark. A beacon of talent, dedication and grace, she embodies the best of our cinematic heritage.”
A South Indian to the core of her heart, born in Chengalpet, Tamil Nadu, and raised largely as well as schooled in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, Rehman has also acted in Telugu, Tamil and Bengali movies. The list of her co-stars reads like a who’s who from Indian cinema’s hall of fame and includes Dev Anand, Guru Dutt, Dilip Kumar, Rajendra Kumar, Raj Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna and Dharmendra, among others.
The dusky danseuse enriched Indian filmography with epics like Teesri Kasam, Ram Aur Shyam, Neel Kamal, Guide, and Khamoshi, besides the timeless Pyaasa, Kaagaz Ke Phool and Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam. Her later-day works include Rang de Basanti and Delhi-6.
But beyond her acting and dance, it is her grace in off-screen life and her selective media and public appearances that shine and make her an icon who exemplifies grace and class.