`Guide` was a challenge for me: Waheeda Rehman

New Delhi: Waheeda Rehman signed the ‘Guide’ when her counterparts in the industry were doing love stories or family dramas. The yesteryear actress says she took up the 1965 film as a challenge because it highlighted the grey shades in her onscreen character.

The 76-year-old legendary actress, whose portrayal of Rosie was appreciated by the audience, said it was tough to play a rebellious character at that time when the film industry was not open for such roles.

"When I signed `Guide`, my colleagues in the industry said that I was doing a big mistake. They even said that this might be my last film because that was the phase when actresses in the industry were portrayed as submissive women. We used to do love stories or family dramas where women were ideal in every role.

"But luckily, I had an open mind and took the project because it was a film and not real life. My character was an inspiration for me. When the film became a hit and everyone found my character interesting, I remember those same colleagues sent me telegrams appreciating my performance," Waheeda told reporters.

She started her career in Bollywood with Guru Dutt`s crime thriller "
‘CID’ opposite Dev Anand in 1956 and starred in many films including ‘Pyaasa’ and ‘Kaagaz Ke Phool’.

Hailing from a non-film background, Waheeda said she did not face any difficulty in establishing herself as an actress when the industry was majorly ruled by male actors.

"Call it my good luck or my open-minded nature; I never felt that I was overshadowed by my co-stars. I worked with actors like Dev Anand and Raj Kapoor but my character was equally highlighted."

"I started off my career as a performer and had never thought about success. I chose those films which I wanted to be part of and show my performance as an artiste," she said.

Waheeda said she chose "Guide" because she wanted to show people her dancing prowess as very few believed in it.

"As I was born and brought up in a Muslim family, people never believed that I could dance. I am a trained Bharatnatyam dancer and I told Dev (who also happened to be the co-director of the film) not to cut out my dance sequences while editing because it was my dream to work in a dance-based film. I underwent rigorous training for 15 days to perform one dance sequence," she added.

Considered one of the most prominent actresses of the golden era, Waheeda acted in many quintessential classics of Guru Dutt. She feels sad that his skills were not recognised while he was alive.

"When he used to make films, he never thought that his films will be the classics. He was a very engaging filmmaker and used to put his mind and soul into one project. People never recognised his importance when he was alive. I feel extremely sad that he got all the recognition and respect after his death," she added.

Waheeda, who made a comeback into the industry in 2002 with Anupam Kher`s "Om Jai Jagdish", said she finds Vidya Balan very promising among the new breed of actresses.

"All the young actresses are extremely talented. The kind of work Vidya Balan does, she is setting a new benchmark in the industry. I have watched all her films be it `Dirty Picture` or `Parineeta` and have observed that even she has the penchant for doing something different from the league," she said.