It’s a triumphant home-coming for the National award winning actress of Dastak.
Rehana Sultan, the trailblazer who ushered in a sexual revolution with her boldly-defined portrayal of the assertive woman in many films directed by her late husband B R Ishaara, is back in the limelight.
She plays Chitrangada Singh’s feisty mother in Sudhir Mishra’s Inkaar.
So impressed is the director by the actress’ command of the medium after so many years that he has decided to cast her in a much meatier role in his next.
Speaking of her comeback which is around the corner — the film opens in January – Rehana who was last seen in Vijay Anand’s Hum Rahen Na Hum in 1984 says, “I never thought about a comeback. I was content in my domestic world. Then things changed (Ishaara passed away). Now I again feel the urge to work. Sudhirji offer me a role when Ishaara Saab was critically ill. A mutual friend Ashok Pandit was instrumental in putting me in touch with Sudhirji. Maybe Sudhirji felt I needed the work because it was reported that my husband and I were not doing too well financially.”
What made up Rehana’s mind at that point of time was the fact Sudhir Mishra didn’t try to hard-sell the role to the actress. “He didn’t say he wrote the role for me, or anything like that. He was very honest. He said it was a small role of the heroine’s mother. But an important one nevertheless. I was happy to accept. At my age who will offer me central roles? Yes, a Sridevi gets to do an English Vinglish. But she has her producer-husband to man-oeuvre her career. Otherwise actresses beyond a certain age still don’t get roles that do justice to them.”
Rehana who now lives with her surrogate-son, nephew Shoaib, says she is open to more offers. “I’d love to do more roles after Inkaar. In fact I am hungry for roles now. I enjoyed doing Inkaar. But I can’t just stand in a frame. Kuch to honi chahiye (there has to be something).”
Sudhir Mishra in fact wrote in a scene specially for Rehana after she stepped into Chitrangda’s mother’s role.
He expresses anguished regret at the limited footage offered to Rehana. “I’ve admired her work in Chetna, Dastak, Savera, Maan Jayiye and Sajjo Rani. She was an actress way ahead of her times. I think it’s a privilege to have her in my film. I wish there was more of her in Inkaar. But there is a sequence where she confronts her daughter. I think there audiences will be reacquainted with Rehana’s brilliance.”
Sudhir is now working on a script with a role specially written for Rehana. “It’s a sad that an actress of her calibre has not been seen in a film for so long. We need to write more roles for 40-plus actresses like what Sridevi has done in English Vinglish.”