By Sumit Paul, New Age Islam
28 September 2023
The news of Waheeda Rahman getting this year's Dadasaheb Phalke Award has gladdened her countless fans. She ought to have received it years ago. Conferring this award upon her at the ripe age of 85 seems to be a political move under the current government's carrot and stick policy towards the minorities.
Nevertheless, she finally got it. An effortless actress, Waheeda could essay any role with a consummate ease. Mind you, she stood out among a galaxy of great actresses like Nargis, Meena Kumari, Madhubala and Nutan. It was never a cake-walk for her.
The great thespian Soumitra Chatterjee recalled that once his mentor and the legendary auteur Satyajit Ray told him, "Acting is all about not acting. You shouldn't appear to be acting on the celluloid. Rather, you must appear to live the character as you live your own self in real life." Waheeda lived all the characters on the marquee as if she was living them in her real life. Her films, "Guide," "Kaaghaz Ke Phool," "Kaala Bazar", "Chaudhvin Ka Chaand", "Mujhe Jeene Do", "Majboor," "Kohra", "Bees Saal Baad", "Neelkamal," "Aadmi", "Ram Aur Shyam" to name but a few assert her acting prowess and screen presence.
Her ageless beauty lent grace and elegance to her acting. Her expressive face reminds you of Mazhar Imam's famous Msra, "Shakl Aisi Ke Na Bhi Baat Kare Toh Yun Laga Ke Baat Kare" (So emotive that even if she says nothing, it appears as if she's speaking).
Waheeda was a director's delight. She was always very quick on the uptake and grasped her role in no time. Her natural ability to emote without resorting to over-acting distinguished her from others. She never rested on her laurels and believed that she could have done better.
When she was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award during the Mumbai Film Festival in 2012, she told a premier English daily that though she tries “to live in the present”, she does believe she “could have done better”. She called 'Guide' her “favourite” but added: “I could have worked on the dance movements, done them better.”
Despite achieving name, fame and recognition, she always remained down to earth and never behaved in haughtily supercilious manner. You approach her for an autograph and she'll gladly oblige. No airs and arrogance ever touched her. Congratulations once again to Waheeda Rahman on getting the prestigious award, albeit quite late in life. But it's better late than never as they say in Persian, "Der Aayad, Durust Aayad."
A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Sumit Paul is a researcher in comparative religions, with special reference to Islam. He has contributed articles to the world's premier publications in several languages including Persian.
New Age Islam, Islam Online, Islamic Website, African Muslim News, Arab World News, South Asia News, Indian Muslim News, World Muslim News, Women in Islam, Islamic Feminism, Arab Women, Women In Arab, Islamophobia in America, Muslim Women in West, Islam Women and Feminism