Thursday, 25 August 2016


                                       WAHEEDA RAHMAN

A perfectly and exquisitely carved out face. Dense midnight-black hair flowing over shoulders. A few locks dancing on the face teasing the emotive and enticing eyes.The arched eyebrows looking down on the sweeping velvety eyelashes. The wheatish saffron-tinted complexion with a tinge of shyness humbling the golden sunlight. As if, God himself has sculptured her.
The song "Chaudhanvi ka chaand ho " perfectly corroborates it.

Satyajit Ray and Amitabh Bachchan are among the admirers of this quintessential beauty.
Satyajit Ray said that she was the most stunning woman he had seen.
And, Amitabh Bachchan thinks that nobody has quite the charm and beauty of Waheeda Rahman.
The legendary Guru Dutt's obsession for her is known to everybody.

To me, Waheeda Rahman is the poise, grace, dignity, decency, delicacy , womanhood all blended and personified. She had spelled a cast over me when puberty had not hit me and I knew little about the significance of the man-woman relationship
You may call it a hangover, but even today, if you ask me to name a woman I find the most gorgeous in a sari, my answer will be Waheeda Rahman. The lustre of her beauty is brighter than all the stars. She is more than just a divinely beautiful face on the screen. Her dances and emotive prowess helped her to be named as one of the finest actresses. Even now,at 78, she looks stunning.

To me, real beauty is sacred and not seductive. It should evoke spirituality. If a man feels aroused by merely the looks of a woman, then, it is the shallowness of his character or maybe, sensuality overshadowing the grace. Real beauty educes divinity and respect. It will not let your eyes incline beyond her neck. That's where I put Waheeda Rahman. It's remarkable that even when covered from head to toe, she looked sensuous. That's my definition of beauty. It doesn't need bare cleavage or thighs. Seeing her and being her admirer too early, my views and idea of womanhood are largely inspired by Waheeda Rahman's persona. The thing is still the same.  

 I vaguely remember that her first movie that I saw was "CID" in which she played a vamp. I was a kid then and obviously, a negative character didn't impress me. 
A couple of weeks after, the Doordarshan showed "Teesri Kasam". I noticed her in the role of a village Nautanki dancer. Then came "Guide". After watching it, I started recognizing her and remembered her name. However, she made a niche in my heart after I watched "Khamoshi". A teenager judges an actor on his or her screen presence and not on acting ability. I watched these movies in my adolescence and began to admire her for her roles.  

 Waheeda was born into a traditional Muslim family. She was a skilled danseuse trained in Bharatnatyam. It was her father's untimely death that forced her to seriously consider a career in films. From 1956 to 1962 she worked only for Gurudutt. 

She has been a part of some of the greatest Hindi films.

"Guide" was ahead of its time. It's considered one of the masterpieces of Bollywood. There are a few instances when a film outdoes the book it I based on. "Guide" is one such film. Rosie Marco was a character no heroine would have agreed to play. People said that she was a vamp. Rosie is one of the ridiculous women in Hindi cinema. She is a rebel. She leaves her husband to follow her dreams, commits adultery and then dumps her lover when he doesn't live to her expectations. The era was different from the one portrayed in "Guide". 

Watch her in songs "PIYA TOSE NAINA LAGE RE...", and " AAJ PHIR JEENE KI TAMANNA HAI...". Simply unforgettable and irreplaceable she is. And, doesn't she rightly deserve that the fabulous Dev Anand sings for her, "LAKH MANAA LE DUNIYA, SAATH NA YE CHOOTEGA... AAKAR MERE HAATHON ME, HAATH NA YE 
Rosie's whimsicality would have been devastating for Waheeda's career but, she chose to do it and today, even after half a century, that stellar performance remains in the list of the most memorable performances in Indian cinema.

Her character Alka in "Kala Bazaar" too, was far ahead of her times. The cocktail of Waheeda's spontaneity with Alka's uncompromising morality took that character to a different level.
 All the songs in "Kala Bazaar" are memorable but I liked Waheeda's gestures in response to her puzzled parents' inquiring stares, lying on the top berth of a train compartment while a mischievous Dev Anand teasing her with an ambiguously worded song - "UPPARWALA JAANKAR ANJAAN HAI... APNI TOH HAR AAH EK TOOFAN HAI ".  It is always fun to watch this song.

Waheeda as the village nautanki dancer Hirabai in "Teesri Kasam" is mesmerizing. To me, that's the second-best Performance by my favorite actress. I can't imagine another actress doing that role to that perfection. She is astonishingly and breathtakingly beautiful in "Teesri Kasam" as much that the black & white doesn't bother. It's sheer ecstasy to watch her face doing the complete act. The calm, the caressing eyes exploring the confirmation of reciprocation in Raj Kapoor's eyes, her submissive smiles, and the translation of emotions by the silent gestures, everything is a treat for the film lovers. "Teesri Kasam" is a real classic with the story, screenplay, direction, acting, music and songs, everything tremendous. Waheeda Rahman's persona added to the marvel of the creation. Her eyes do magic in the song "PAN KHAYE SAIYAAN HAMAAR, SANWALI SOORAT PE HONTH LAL LAL..."

And, "Khamoshi", the timeless and mesmeric film. Most rank it the best movie of 60's. I can write endlessly about this movie. Unarguably, the best role essayed by  Waheeda Rahman. She effortlessly plays a devoted nurse (Radha) and a jilted lover. The trauma of a lacking professional who fails to keep her  emotions separate from her occupation.  The compassion and feelings can be heard in her silence. Her eyes are the most vocal in this 1969 classic. The nurse Radha in "Khamoshi" will stir you, shake you and if you are emotional, you will weep. You would fall for her and would feel anxious to bring her out of her trauma. And, the piercing poetry in the lyrics of the great Gulzar sahib adds to the marvel. The songs "HUMNE DEKHI HAI UN AANKHON KI MAHAKTI KHUSHBOO..." ,  "TUM PUKAAR LO..." , "WO SHAAM KUCH AJEEB THI..." are all ageless numbers. Youngsters too, love them.

Who can forget her National award bagging role in " Reshma Aur Shera"? She lived to perfection the transformation of Reshma's character from a giggling rustic girl to an erotic lover to a rebellious daughter to a tragic woman. This film was a flop but the Waheeda Rahman enacted an unforgettable role making Reshma immortal.

She had a small but significant role in "Sahib Biwi Aur Gulaam". I will not talk about this film. However, I loved her in the song "MERI BAAT RAHI MERE MAN ME...". It's one of the iconic songs of Asha Bhonsle and Waheeda Rahman subtly brings in all emotions and feeling matching the wondrous lyrics of  Shakeel Badayuni.

Another gem she has contributed to is the song from "Pyaasa" - "JANE KYA TUNE KAHI...JANE KYA MAINE SUNI...". Please pardon me for repeating it every now and then, but, but, I really love her eyes and the way they talk. And the elegance. No wonder she is my dream woman.

Her dance postures and the conveyance of her devoted love towards the so-full-of-attitude Dev Anand in "RANGEELA RE..." from "Prem Pujaari" has an unfading charm. 

The ethereal Waheeda Rahman has an indelible impression on me since my childhood. I so admire this woman that she is like an angel to me. She is the only woman I didn't mind to see wearing her hair in two braids otherwise I hate them. She is one of the very few people who has aged gracefully as she has ever lived her life. Hats off.

Her angelic smile is enough for a traumatic man to forget all his pain. Her silence is so vocal and again, sorry for that, her eyes are so expressive they don't leave much for her pleasing voice.

I am not hopeful that she would read this but if the God makes a mood and sprinkle any pint of good fortune on me and she happens to read this...then, 

With all respect, Dear Waheeda ji, this is for you.


  1. Grt article. Well researched. Dil se.Write on Madhubala also.

    1. Thank you,Rajeev sir. I will surely try to write on Madhubala too

  2. Grt article. Well researched. Dil se.Write on Madhubala also.