When her trained dance steps in a Telugu movie caught master film-maker Guru Dutt’s attention, Waheeda Rehman was just thirteen. Guru Dutt brought her to Mumbai and gave her the first break in CID. From then onwards, for almost a decade Waheeda became not only the lead actress but also the controversial muse of that genius actor- director.
Waheeda’s classic looks, innate grace and natural expressions immortalized many a classic role like the prostitute sacrificing everything for a poor poet’s love in Pyaasa, the heroine trapped in a futile romance with an already married director in Kaagaz Ke Phool, the dacoit’s resolute wife in Mujhe Jeene Do, the woman running away from a failed marriage, only to fall for a conman in Guide and the girl in love with a man from the enemy camp in Reshma Aur Shera. Still in a way, she remained slightly under-rated, both in terms of acting and beauty compared to some of her contemporaries. She can still light up the screen- even in her grandma roles in films like Rang DeBasanti and Delhi 6!
Kala Bazar is a story about movie ticket black marketer (Dev Anand), who accidentally comes across a girl (Waheeda), holding strong views against any moral wrong- doings. Even knowing that she is in love with another man (Vijay Anand), unknown to her, the black marketer then renounces his old ways and reforms himself. How their unlikely romance blooms and overcomes hardships is an engrossing Vijay Anand- film, complemented by S.D. Burman’s superb music. Waheeda excels as a girl caught up in two minds over her romantic feelings.
Teesri Kasam is a moving story about the subtle emotional bond developing between a Nautanki (Street-play)- dancer (Waheeda) and a village bumpkin bullock- cart driver (Raj Kapoor) during a Mela. His straight, simple thinking attracts her, making her to think about her loveless life in public glare. But in the end, she realizes the futility of those naïve dreams to bid adieu to the man. This Basu Bhattacharya- directed film depicting rural India and unspoken love was produced by lyricist Shailendra and even though it won President’s Gold Medal, commercially it was a failure.
Khamoshi is a story of a nurse (Waheeda), who is instructed by a psychiatrist to play the role of an emotional anchor for a mentally disturbed patient (Rajesh Khanna). A similar role- playing has emotionally scarred her once before with another man (Dharmendra). This time around, she is more careful yet in the end, the strain of checking her emotions becomes so unbearable that she herself breaks down mentally. Waheeda’s terrific role and Hemant Kumar’s mellow music (Tum Pukar Lo, Woh Shaam and Humne Dekhi Hai) highlight this must- watch film.