Always willing to take chances, Waheeda Rehman experimented with unconventional roles in films such as "Guide" and "Teesri Kasam". She sees a reflection of herself in Vidya Balan, who has also shown great chutzpah in selecting her films.
Asked who among the current lot was like her, the screen legend said: "I'll say Vidya Balan."
"I also used to choose different movies. I never stuck to 'one good girl in love' (kind of role) and Vidya does the same thing," Waheeda told IANS in an exclusive interview.
"I had the guts to do 'Guide'. At that time, they told me not to do it because it was a vamp's role. I did 'Mujhe Jeene Do' and 'Teesri Kasam'. I wanted to take a chance and even Vidya is doing that now," she said.
The graceful 76-year-old thespian follows the same maxim even today.
The reason why she has taken up nothing after Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's 2009 release "Delhi 6": "The role should excite me. It must contribute to the movie...not just like standing there. That's not exciting. What kind of role is difficult to say. Even if it is an elderly role, it must contribute. I don't want to be there for the sake of being there," Waheeda told IANS.
In a 56-year acting career, she gave all-time classics such as "Kagaz Ke Phool", "Guide", Chaudhvin Ka Chand", "Teesri Kasam" and "Mujhe Jeene Do".
With no prior experience in acting, she always focussed on her director's brief.
"Whatever acting I did, it was with the help of my directors and my imagination. I used to do things to the best of my ability. I emphasised on my feelings and not so much on the technique," she said.
The big screen veteran has no plans to join TV.
"I got so many offers, but I don't want to do TV. I was told you get stuck badly if the serial becomes popular. Then the timings and all...I want to have my life at my time," she said.
"If I do one picture (at a time), it is fine... I want to enjoy my life. Currently, I'm enjoying myself. There are so many things to do, I run a house, meet my friends. I do a lot of reading, meditation and I travel," she said.
And she is doing that... meeting friends from the industry regularly for lunch or films.
"Nanda, Asha Parekh, Sadhna, Helen...we meet quite often. We go out for lunches or visit each other's house. We watch movies. Salim (writer Salim Khan) 'saab' and Helen have screenings for all the movies they can get, and all of us watch them together," she said.
The actress has always been fond of her fans but believes that there is a line that should not be crossed.
"Sometimes, it bugs you and irritates you. We go to a restaurant and we are eating. People don't have the sensitivity that they should let us eat. Once we finish, they can ask for autograph or a photograph. Let us be. You are eating, so are we. We don't want to be disturbed like that," she said.
(Anjuri Nayar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)