In an interview, Waheeda Rehman said, "I never considered myself beautiful in my younger years. I only considered myself to be photogenic. I looked beautiful mainly because of the good lighting and makeup. I never considered myself beautiful."
The reality is that Waheeda Rehman was known for her classic combination of Islamic beauty and extraordinary grace, talent and an appeal that ranked her among the top of Bollywood's elite actresses.
Her sophistication remains unparalleled to date and who is considered to be one of the most beautiful women that Indian cinema.
She was born on 3rd Feb 1938 into a Muslim family in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.
Her father was a district commissioner who died in 1948 when Waheeda was only 10 years old. Her dream was to become a doctor but, due to circumstances of illness of her mother, she abandoned this goal. Instead helped by her supportive parents, she hit the silver screen with Telugu films Rojulu Marayi (1955), followed by Jayasimha (1955) and Tamil film K.aalam Maari Pochu (1956).
In the success party of Rojulu Maaraayi, Guru Dutt noticed her and decided to groom her and have her act in Hindi films. Waheeda considered Guru Dutt as her mentor. Dutt brought her to Bombay and cast as a vamp in his production CID (1956), directed by Raj Khosla.. After the success of C.I.D., Dutt gave her a leading role in Pyaasa (1957). Their next venture together was Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959),
Waheeda's successful films are Pyaasa (1957), 12 O'Clock (1958), Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959), Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Chaudhvin Ka Chand (1961). Her other notable works include Solva Saal (1958), Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962), Kohra (1964), Bees Sal Baad (1962), Guide (1965), Teesri Kasam, Mujhe Jeene Do (1966), Neel Kamal and Khamoshi (1969).
Waheeda Rehman established a great working relationship with Dev Anand, and together as a pair had number of successful films to their credit. The box office hits of the pair include CID (1956), Solva Saal (1958), Kala Bazar (1960), Baat Ek Raat Ki (1962) and Guide (1965); box office duds were Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1961) and Prem Pujari (1970).
Besides Dev Anand she delivered hits opposite Dilip Kumar in three successive years; Dil Diyaa Dard Liyaa in 1966, Ram Aur Shyam in 1967 and Aadmi in 1968.
She reached her peak with Guide (1965) and was much in demand. Her career continued throughout the 1970s and 1980s. She won the Filmfare Best Actress Award for her roles in Guide (1965), and Neel Kamal (1968), but despite excellent offbeat roles in subsequent films, including a National Award-winning performance in Reshma Aur Shera (1971), some of the films failed at the box office. Seeing her films being successful, Waheeda decided to experiment with roles at this stage of career. She accepted Reshma Aur Shera, opposite her old co-star Sunil Dutt, with whom she had previously in the sixties had hits like Ek Phool Char Kaante, Mujhe Jeene Do, Meri Bhabhi and Darpan.
She played pivotal roles Kabhi Kabhie (1976),Trishul (1978), Jwalamukhi (1980), Namkeen and Namak Halaal (1982),Mashaal (1984), Chandni(1989), Rang De Basanti(2006). She played the central character in the Mahesh Bhatt directed film Swayam that starred Akash Khurana and Anupam Kher.
After her marriage to Shashi Rekhi (screen name Kamaljeet whom she paired in 1964 film Shagoon )on 27 April 1974, she shifted to a farmhouse in Bangalore. She has two children named Sohail and Kashvi, who are writers. On 21 November 2000, her husband died following a prolonged illness. She moved back to her ocean view bungalow in Bandra, Mumbai where she currently lives.
In recent years she made a comeback playing elderly mother and grandmother roles in Om Jai Jagadish (2002), Water (2005) and Rang De Basanti (2006), 15, Park Avenue, Delhi 6 (2009), Love in Bombay (2013) and Vishwarupam (2015) which were all critically acclaimed.
She has received a Centenary Award for Indian Film Personality, a Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award, a National Film Award for Best Actress and two Filmfare Awards for Best Actress.