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Waheeda Rehman – The “Mother” Of All The Bachchans

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Ali Peter John

If there is one thing about Amitabh Bachchan,  it is his opinions about people and issues. He is always rock steady when it comes to an opinion or and individual , an institution and even the country.

He was a fan of Dilip Kumar, Balraj Sahni and Waheeda Rehman and the other actress who came very close on his list was Nutan, who he wanted to work with somehow and saw his dream fulfilled when he was cast as her hero in “Saudagar” , one of his early films made by the house of the Rajshris. He had to wait , before he could fulfill his other two ambitions. He got his first and only chance to work with Dilip Kumar in “Shakti” directed by Ramesh Sippy who is still best known only as the maker of “Sholay” , the legend and Amitabh was cast in what was called a casting coup and played father and son who couldn’t see eye to eye when it came to law. It was a magical combination and even though the film did not do half as well as Sholay , it will always be remembered for the clash of the giants of two generations, Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan. They were never cast together again even though many tried.

Amitabh always wanted to work with Balraj Sahni and tried to follow his school of acting in some of his films , but he always regrets his not being able to work with a “genuinely great” actor like Balraj Sahni. But he had the opportunity to show how much he respected the senior actor recently. I had to literally force Balraj Sahni’s  son , Parikshat Sahni to write a book on his father which he reluctantly did and took over eight months to write what could be written by a son who was also a gifted writer in three months before handing over the manuscript to any major publisher who would only be too glad to publish the book.

The book was written , Penguin, the leading publisher took the shortest time and they had decided to publish the book, but they wanted a celebrity to write the foreward to the book. Parikshat came to me and told me about his problem which was giving him sleepless nights. I told him he had no reasons to be so anxious and I had so much faith in Amitabh ji hero-worship of Balraj Sahni that I told Parikshat that the book would have a foreward by Amitabh Bachchan. Parikshat was a very close friend of Amitabh and had even worked with him in films like ” Desh Premi” . When was still looking anxious , I drafted a letter in his name to Amitabh and told him about the need for a foreword. ” Nahi likhega,  yaar, brother kitna busy hai , ” Parikshat kept on grumbling and all my attempts to pacify him and calm him down failed till on the third day after I wrote that letter. To Amitabh , signed by Parikshat , we then recieved and he answered from Amitabh , we received the foreward itself and that was to be the major highlight of the book. I knew Amitabh could not say no to a request like Parikshat had made.

A month later , Penguin wanted a chief guest to release the book and they had names like Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar for the choice of releasing the book. I told Parikshat , that it would be an insult to his great father if man who had never read a book had a never seen any of the best films of Balraj Sahni could dare to release the book based on the life of the one of the greatest actors and literary writers of India. Parikshat kept looking at me annoyed because he thought I was trying to stop or postpone the release of his book. He was foolish if he thought like that when he knew that the idea about writing the book was mine and only mine . Can he dare deny this claim I make ?

I told Parikshat if there was one man alive who could release the book , it would be and it just would have to be Amitabh Bachchan and no one else. Parikshat looked as if he was going to declare war but I stuck to my guns and kept telling him that it would be Amitabh who would release the book even though I knew Amitabh was the busiest man in the world, at seventy seven. Parikshat behaved as if I had damaged him and his dream ( How did it become his dream now, when all was over and done ?) I drafted another letter to Amitabh in spite of his ever so efficient manager , Rosy Singh telling me the details one his diary to prove how busy he was but I still persisted which was a quality I had learnt from my Guru , K A Abbas and the disciple of Abbas , Amitabh Bachchan himself.

Amitabh not only agreed to come, he came half an hour before time as usual and he stayed around for more than two hours talking about Balraj Sahni and his school of acting.

Amitabh now had to fulfill his ambition to work with Waheeda Rehman. He got his first chance when he was cast as a  dumb man in Sunil Dutt’s ” Reshma aur Shera ” . Sunil Dutt and Waheeda Rehman were the true stars of the film, but Amitabh had a very brief role and that too in a role in which he had to play a dumb man when his only  strong point was his baritone voice. There was a scene in which Waheeda Rehman had to walk bare feet on the hot sands of Bikaner in Rajasthan . Amitabh , the fan felt miserable to see her walk like that and ran towards her with her footwear, a scene neither Amitabh nor Waheeda Rehman have forgotten.

The bond between Waheeda Rehman and Amitabh and his family kept growing. She was cast with Amitabh in a film called “Adaalat” in which Amitabh had a double role. Amitabh however got the best chance to work with Waheeda when Yash Chopra cast Waheeda Rehman as Amitabh’s wronged mother in “Trishul”.

Waheeda Rehman has played the mother of Jaya Bhaduri before she could become Jaya Bachchan in Rajender Singh Bedi’s ” Phaagun” and Waheeda Rehman played the mother of Abhishek Bachchan in “Om Jai Jagdish” , the only film directed by Anupam Kher which was a major flop and made Anupam take a vow not to direct a film again.

The Bacchans say that they feel highly privileged to work with a great actors like Waheeda Rehman and Waheeda Rehman feels that her roles with the Bachchan’s have been the best of the second half of her career. How does one describe a bond like this , a bond which was once only a dream and which turned out to be a some glorious moments in Indian cinema?

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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News,Waheeda Rehman , Abhishek Bachchan,  Amitabh Bachchan

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