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Had I not been an actress, I would have been a doctor: Bollywood actress Waheeda Rehman
Recently I had received an invitation of a book launch program orgainsed by Penguin Books. The occasion was launch of "Conversations with Waheeda Rehman" by Nasreen Munni Kabir. There, I got an opportunity to interact and converse with the women known for her natural talent and haunting beauty. And she is none other than the actress Waheeda Rehman.

One of the first thing that came in my mind when I saw Waheeda Ji in the evening was her toe tapping number so beautifully picturized on her "Rangeela Re Tere Rang Mein Yun Ranga Hai Mera Mann . . . Chhaliya Re Na Bujhe Hai Kisi Jal Se Yeh Jalan . . . Rangeela Re” from the 1970 release "Prem Pujari".

The song was shot in the exotic location of Switzerland in Hotel Grimsel Hospiz surrounded by mountain peaks that were so spectacular that they were giving the aristocratic feel. Waheeda Ji is distinctly seen intoxicated, lost in dancing and shaking off her whole body in this lovely number at the party. Her moves provokes actor Dev Anand so much that he throws glass of wine as he could never believe her lover would drink and dance openly in the public.

The film was Produced, Directed and Written by Dev Anand for Navketan Films. There were awesome lyrics by Neeraj coupled with melodious compositions by Late S.D. Burman and voice of none other than the "Melody Queen" Lata Mangeshkar.

From the devastating loss of her parents at a young age to making a life in Cinema on her own terms, the odyssey of Waheeda Rehman has indeed been a voyage of discovery. Even at the ripe age of 76 septuagenarian and Indian Cinema's most beautiful women, actress Waheeda Rehman is still seen to keep herself busy and occupied.

In this engaging book of conversations with Nasreen Munni Kabir, Waheeda Rehman proves to be a lively raconteur, speaking about her life and work with refreshing honesty, humour and insight: from insightful accounts of working with extraordinary film practitioners like Guru Dutt, Raj Khosla, Satyajit Ray, Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand and Vijay Anand to her friendship with stars like Nargis and Nanda.

A slice of cinema history told through compelling anecdotes and astute observations, conversations with Waheeda Rehman provides a rare view of a much-adored and award-winning actress of Indian cinema.

Renowned for her natural talent and beauty, Waheeda Rehman's career spans an astonishing array of key films in Indian cinema, including Pyaasa, Abhijan, Mujhe Jeene Do, Guide, Teesri Kasam and Rang De Basanti.

As soon as I got the opportunity to interact with Waheeda Ji I could not resist my temptation to ask her this question:

Q: Had you not been an actress which other profession you would have chosen and why?

A: (smiles) Had I not been an actress I wished to become a Doctor. While we were young, medicine was considered to be one of the most respectable profession for Women. I always wanted to work, and I even told my father I wished to become a doctor. I am still fascinated by medicine and the profession would have given me the opportunity to meet and treat people with all my love and faith.

Now whether Waheeda Ji became an actress or Doctor is secondary but the one thing she was very sure of was that all the four sisters would do well in life. She even told her father: "Daddy, don't worry, one day my photograph will appear in the papers. I don't know why, but it will." 

She had also told her father that she would own a farm and, many years later, she did. Rightly said, "Things do work when we listen to our inner voice" and Waheeda Ji's voice of confidence was no exception.

Nasreen Munni Kabir's 'Conversations with Waheeda Rehman' abounds in anecdotes from the iconic life of one of Indian cinema's most beautiful women actors.

Here I would also like to say that Nasreen Munni Kabir is a reputed documentary film-maker and writer on films. Based in London, she has made several programmes on Hindi cinema for Channel 4 TV, UK, including the forty-six-part series Movie Mahal and The Inner/Outer World of Shah Rukh Khan.

Her several books are, among others, Guru Dutt: A Life in Cinema, Talking Films and Talking Songs with Javed Akhtar, A.R. Rahman: The Spirit of Music, Lata Mangeshkar: In Her Own Voice and, most recently, In the Company of a Poet, a book of conversations with Gulzar.

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