Instinct, I sat up and said “Wait it is Nanda – it’s for me sure enough, it was. there was the familiar giggle that familiar voice, sweet and courteous. Soon there was all that familiar excitement, my weirdness was gone, such a relief. It was the beginning of another of those long telephone conversations.

Of late we have resorted to then for want of leisure to meet, to set off on those long drives to Khandwa and back at some unearthly hour or dash into one of those posh eateries after everybody else less deserted it and the board outside indicating that lunchtime is almost over.

Or drive to one of those lovely seashores when there isn’t a soul around. “Where have you been all these years?” Nanda asked frantically. I almost thought I had lost you, Waheeda Rehman “Years?

That’s nanda’s way of putting it, we had not met or talked on the phone for just 20 days I had been busy shooting in madras for a fortnight and when I returned, Nanda was on location. That reminds me of our first meetings, rather than confrontation.

We almost began as foes, it was about nine years ago that I, this Bombay life. I didn’t know many people in the film industry, and I was myself a nonentity then, the future holding a big question mark.on my way to the studio I used to pass by the Plaza Cinema outside there was a huge poster of Marathi film “Shevgyache Shenga” it didn’t change for the months the films were very popular.

There was a little girl in the cast baby Nanda. She had given a fine performance somebody had casually told me. A year or so later, I was shooting for “kaagaz ke phool” at the central studio. on another stage in the name studio, there was another film “Naya Sansar” I had come to be recognized as an actress after my role in “pyaasa” banda had liked my performance and since we were shooting at the same studio, she had thought of meeting me.

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I did not know of her plans, I’m very quiet by nature and my expressions on the screen can be confusing. as I was going up the stairs to my makeup room a charming little girl passed by. she wished me. it seems and I didn’t even smile and I hadn’t heard her greeting in the.

Nanda misunderstood, naturally, and decided she would never even look at me. But we were destined to be friends. Shortly after I was signed up for Kala bazaar” Nanda too had a starring role in it. the first day I reported for work. Director Vijay Anand introduced us. she quickly reacted with a dry look.

But as the days passed we become so fond of each other that we could go to the studio an hour earlier just to sit and talk. We had joined hands in the pact of Friendship. I have often wondered what is it that holds us together so closely.

It is true we have many things in common. the lists of our likes and dislikes are identical. we have absolute faith in our respective religions but no dogmas for us. we do not subscribe to extremes. it is always a happy compromise. we are all so fatalists.

Nanda has an enormous sense of humor. she can bust into loud laughter without provocations but that’s only when she’s with people she likes.it is difficult to pinpoint her attraction perhaps it’s a mixture of her simple but immense charm, her disarming smile, and the main and important ingredient is the way she talks.

She is fond of films any film is good enough for her. but she always insists that I company her. she is very sensitive and sentimental. I am even more. Once I remember we went to see ” I want to live ” we were both weeping after the show.

Nanda is fond of food, particularly spicy Punjabi dishes. she loves Chinese sweet corn soup and reveals a healthy appetite if she finds herself a plate of Biryani at my house. Poor nanda this next day she has to fast to keep.

As an actress, Nanda has few equals. she caught the attention of critics as well as filmmakers in her very first adult role, ” Toofan Aur Diya” it had a silver jubilee at many places. she has never had a single failure in her field and what a variety of roles, isn’t that a record with ever 50 films to her credits? it is not merely acting talent she has that in abundance.

She has a record amount film artists of being present on the sets of the last five minutes before a scene. and she is not the kind to fuss over anything. I have learned quite a few things from her.

Yet there was a time when Nanda nearly faced a nervous breakdown. after her find delineation of those deglamorized roles in series of films, they kept typecasting her. Nanda was distressed. she longed for glamorous roles and they wouldn’t come to her somehow, she used to be in tears.

Then came the break with her first glamorous role in “Jab Jab Phool Khile “.But to get back to the telephone. Every time we finish a phone conversation, Nanda comes out with a bright idea, This time too she had a bright idea. ” listen Waheeda ” she said “How about getting married? ” “What!” I gasped.

Her explanation: When we get married it will be on the same day and it won’t be an arranged marriage for us, please, Say some kind of love marriage.

And then even after marriage, the same warm friendship. Yes! but then who knows? after all, we are fatalists. That’s how the long conversation ended that day. – Filmfare 1967

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