May 25, 2002 
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Waheeda Rahman
Amitabh is serious, Abhishek is lively
Waheeda Rehman on the art of playing mother.

Her simple beauty and refreshing style of acting made Waheeda Rahman one of the most popular actress in the 60s and 70s.

On the sets of Lamhe, the actress had promised Anupam Kher that she would act in his directorial debut. She kept that promise. She plays the mother of Anil Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan and Fardeen Khan in Om Jai Jagdish in Kher's first film as director.

Bharati Dubey chats with the actress about her films.

An actress is only offered mother's roles once she grows older...

In India, it is sad that after a certain age, actresses don't have much scope. But in Om Jai Jagdish, I play a central role -- the mother of Anil Kapoor, Fardeen Khan and Abhishek Bachchan.

You have played mother to both Amitabh (Mahaan) and Abhishek Bachchan...

Amitabh Bachchan was very serious person, but Abhishek is the life of the set.

How was the experience of working with Anil Kapoor and Fardeen Khan?

I have worked with Anil Kapoor (Lamhe) so we already shared a rapport.

Fardeen is very quiet. It was only in the last schedule in Bangalore that he opened up and we chat with each other for hours.

I know Abhishek Bachchan from the time he was born, so I was very familier with him.

Do you watch your films on television?

I avoid watching my films because I always find faults in my performance and hairstyles (though they were fashionable then). My friends gift me my film videos and insist that I watch them.

Besides, I am not a TV person. The only channels I watch are Discovery and news channels. I prefer reading books. I knew that glamour and star status was temporary, so I didn't miss anything. It is better to be known as a person. Successful actors come and go and not all can take their success and failure gracefully.

I can't understand why people are so concerned about the box office collection. How does the box office matter, if my work is good in the film? I was told saleability and non-salebility of an actor is decided by the film collections.

Which is your favourite film?

Guide. It was the first film that presented me as a dancer.

I had started off with a serious film Pyaasa, and many in the industry thought I specialised in serious films.

I also like Mujhe Jeene Do. The film had an entire graph of the character. From a tawaif, to a mother and then how she tries to save her husband. It had every shade of emotion in it. The film was real. There was nothing fake in it.

Is there any film that you rejected and later, regreted the decision?

I was offered Andaz opposite Shammi Kapoor. Shyam Benegal wanted me to play the role Shabana (Azmi) did later. It's good that I didn't do it. A fantastic talent made an entry into the film industry.

I did an NDFC film called Trisandhya. My producers were very upset with me. They all told me that a commercial actress like me should not do a serious film like that one. But I felt that an artiste should be open to all kinds of roles.


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