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 in New Delhi.
The cinema veteran, who received a standing ovation from the A-list gathering as she walked to the stage, spoke about how 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.
The five-member jury — comprising Rehman’s close friend and last year’s Dadasaheb awardee Asha Parekh, actors Chiranjeevi, Paresh Rawal, Prosenjit Chatterjee and filmmaker Shekhar Kapur — selected Rehman for the prestigious honour.
Rehman 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 into 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.