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And… Dadasahab Phalke Award 2021 goes to legendary actress Waheeda Rehman

Waheeda Rehman made her debut in 1955 as a dancer in the Telugu film Rojulu Marayi.

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Read about the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award being conferred upon the legendary actress Waheeda Rehman. Discover her remarkable journey.

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Waheeda Rehman

The Dadasaheb Phalke Award is the highest honour in Indian cinema, recognising outstanding contributions to the growth and development of the film industry. This year, the award has been conferred to veteran actress Waheeda Rehman, who has been a part of Hindi cinema for over five decades. This is not just a recognition of her remarkable contributions to the world of Indian cinema but also a celebration of how her films have depicted the ‘Bharatiya Nari‘ or the Indian woman, in all her multifaceted glory. She has also won a National Film Award and three Filmfare Awards, besides being honored with the Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.

Rehman’s selection for the Dadasaheb Phalke Award was announced by Union Minister Anurag Thakur on September 28, 2023. He praised her for her stellar contribution to Indian cinema and said that she has exemplified dedication, commitment, and the strength of a Bharatiya Nari who can achieve the highest level of professional excellence with her hard work. He also linked her award with the recently passed women’s reservation Bill in the Parliament, saying that it was a fitting tribute to one of the leading ladies of Indian cinema and one who has dedicated her life after films to philanthropy and the greater good of society.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also congratulated Rehman and said that her journey in Indian cinema has left an indelible mark. He called her a beacon of talent, dedication, and grace, who embodies the best of our cinematic heritage.

Rehman herself expressed surprise and gratitude for receiving the award. She said that she was happy that her work was appreciated and recognised by the government. She also thanked her fans, co-stars, directors, and producers for their support and love throughout her career.

Waheeda Rehman’s journey in Indian cinema began in the 1950s, Rehman made her debut in 1955 as a dancer in the Telugu film Rojulu Marayi. She then moved to Bombay and acted in Raj Khosla’s CID opposite Dev Anand. She caught the attention of filmmaker Guru Dutt, who cast her in his films Pyaasa, Kaagaz ke Phool, and Chaudhavi Ka Chand.

She also worked with other prominent directors such as Bimal Roy, Vijay Anand, Satyajit Ray, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, and Yash Chopra. Over the course of several decades, she graced the silver screen with her exceptional talent, beauty, and versatility. What sets her apart is not just her acting prowess but the choice of roles she undertook, which often portrayed women in a complex, relatable, and realistic light.

Pathbreaking Roles: One of the hallmarks of Waheeda Rehman’s career is her ability to choose roles that pushed the boundaries of conventional portrayals of women in Indian cinema. She made her debut in Guru Dutt’s “C.I.D.” in 1956, and her career continued to evolve with memorable roles in classics like “Pyaasa” and “Kaagaz Ke Phool.” In these films, she portrayed strong-willed, independent, and self-assured women who challenged societal norms, reflecting the changing role of women in post-independence India.

Iconic Duality: One of the most iconic portrayals by Waheeda Rehman was in the film “Guide” (1965). Her character, Rosie, encapsulated the duality often experienced by Indian women – the conflict between societal expectations and personal aspirations. Rosie’s transformation from a dutiful wife to a liberated dancer is a powerful exploration of the ‘Bharatiya Nari’ breaking free from her shackles.

Complex Relationships: Another aspect of Waheeda Rehman’s filmography is her depiction of complex and intricate relationships. In movies like “Chaudhvin Ka Chand” (1960) and “Teesri Kasam” (1966), her characters navigate the nuances of love and sacrifice, showcasing the emotional depth of the ‘Bharatiya Nari.’ Her performances made these characters not just relatable but also deeply empathetic.

Resilience and Strength: Throughout her career, Waheeda Rehman often played roles that highlighted the inner strength and resilience of Indian women. In “Neel Kamal” (1968), she portrayed a woman who overcame adversity with grace and determination, reinforcing the idea that ‘Bharatiya Nari’ is not a helpless victim but a fighter in her own right.

Evolution with Time: Waheeda Rehman’s filmography also reflects the evolving image of Indian women through the decades. From the traditional roles in the 1950s to more modern and progressive characters in the 1970s and 1980s, she adapted to the changing narrative of Indian cinema while maintaining her signature grace and poise.

Cultural Significance: Several of Waheeda Rehman’s films have delved into the cultural fabric of India, exploring the traditions, rituals, and customs that often shape the lives of Indian women. Her performances in films like “Ram Aur Shyam” (1967) and “Kabhi Kabhie” (1976) added depth and authenticity to her characters by grounding them in their cultural contexts.

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