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Waheeda Rehman: At 16 she said 'No way' to a name change to Guru Dutt

She was just 16 when, in the year 1954, she refused to change her name on the behest of the great Guru Dutt.

“They told me that my name was not sexy and juicy enough, and wanted me to change it. I refused,” Waheedaji tells Connected to India on the sidelines of the biggest film festival of the country the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF).

Graceful Waheedaji makes many points, without going over the top, about the freedom to express opinion irrespective of the gender or religion – not relenting nor compromising under the pressure to secure a career in tinsel town and with the support she had from her parents.

In the supposedly modern times of information-age where gender and religious issues are far from being resolved, one can learn from this legend who captured millions of hearts with her charm, poise, and grace. Over the course of six decades, Waheedaji starred in over 80 films – ranging from Hindi, Telugu, and Tamil, to Bengali movies.

Waheeda Rehman with Anup Singh at the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) Photo: Connected to India
Waheeda Rehman with Anup Singh at the Singapore International Film Festival (SGIFF) Photo: Connected to India

At the age of 80, the mystical beauty continues to be active and looks out for roles that excite her. Case in point, Anup Singh’s, Indian origin Geneva-based filmmaker who was born in Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania, East Africa, The Song of Scorpions.

Waheedaji plays the role of Zubaida, the grandmother of the main protagonist of the film Nooran played by Golshifteh Farahani. You can watch the interview here.


Sunanda Verma
Sunanda Verma – Senior Writer

Sunanda is a writer-journalist. In a previous avatar she worked as a Prime Time and Special shows TV News Producer with Star News (now ABP), Zee News and TV Today Networks. She enjoys deciphering cultural codes across nationalities, age groups and gender. Sunanda celebrates inspiration, and her writings take such stories beyond geographical, cultural, social or religious boundaries.