PNS | New Delhi
Screen icon Waheeda Rehman on Tuesday became the eighth woman artiste to receive the prestigious Dadasaheb Phalke Award, the highest recognition in the field of Indian cinema, an honour she dedicated to her “dear film industry” and its various departments.
President Droupadi Murmu presented the award to Rehman, 85, during the 69th National Film Awards ceremony, held at Vigyan Bhawan here.
The cinema veteran, who received a standing ovation from the A-list gathering as she walked to the stage, said filmmaking is a collaborative process. “I feel very honoured and humbled… But whatever I have achieved today, it is because of my dear film industry. Luckily, I got to work with top directors, producers, filmmakers, technicians, writers, dialogue writers, music directors and musicians,” Rehman said in her acceptance speech.
“I got a lot of support, respect and love from them,” she said, also crediting the make-up artists, hair and costume designers.
“…Which is why I am sharing this award with all the departments of the film industry. They gave me a lot of respect, support and love from the very beginning. A film is not made by just one person, we need each other,” she added. In her address, President Droupadi Murmu praised Rehman for championing women empowerment through her roles and life.
“I’m elated to honour Waheeda Rehman ji with Dadasaheb Phalke award. I congratulate Waheeda ji. With her art and personality, she has reached on top in the film industry. She has made a name for herself as a woman of dignity, confidence and originality in her personal life too,” the President said.
Murmu also spoke about how Rehman refused to change her name as a newcomer in the film industry when it was common for actors to opt for a different screen name. “In her movies, she played roles of women who broke shackles. Waheeda ji has set the example that women have to take the initiative when it comes to women empowerment,” she added.
Rehman was selected for the prestigious honour by a five-member jury–comprising close friend and last year’s Dadasaheb awardee Asha Parekh, actors Chiranjeevi, Paresh Rawal, Prosenjit Chatterjee and filmmaker Shekhar Kapur.
The actor made her debut in Hindi films opposite Dev Anand in Guru Dutt’s 1956 film “CID” and went on to build a stellar career of over five decades, including classics “Pyaasa”, “Kaagaz ke Phool” and “Chaudhvin Ka Chand”, “Guide” as well as later hits such as “Kabhi Kabhie” and “Khamoshi”.
The announcement of the Dadasaheb Phalke honour coincided with the birth centenary of her “Guide” and “CID” co-star Dev Anand on September 26, 2023. Rehman, who forayed in cinema with the 1955 Telugu films “Rojulu Maraayi” and “Jayasimha”, has worked in more than 90 films across languages.
In the 2000s, she appeared in “Om Jai Jagdish”, “Rang De Basanti”, “Delhi-6” and “The Song of Scorpions”. Her last film was the 2021 sports drama “Skater Girl”. She received a National Film Award for her role as a clanswoman in “Reshma aur Shera”. She has already been honoured with a Padma Shri and Padma Bhushan. Film actor-producer Devika Rani was the first Dadasaheb Phalke awardee. Other female artists to have received the honour are Sulochana, Kanan Devi, Durga Khote, Lata Mangeshkar, Asha Bhosle and Asha Parekh.