Rehana Sultan, who revolutionised the image of the Bollywood heroine by portraying a bold sex worker in Chetna over 45 years ago, is living under very strained financial conditions in a small room in the Mumbai suburbs.
At the age of 65, Rehana whose husband B R Ishara -- the radical writer and director of Chetna passed away in 2012-- gets a monthly financial support from the Cine and Television Artistes’ Association, which is trying to do its best for the actress who it is believed is in dire straits.
The association, however, can only do its best from its resources. It is learnt that Rehana – the uber talented graduate from the Film and Television Institute of Pune who won the National Award for Best Actress for Dastak in 1970 – was left with practically nothing by Ishara, whose health and career had floundered during his end days.
After the marriage to the much-older Ishara in 1984, Rehana’s last major appearance was in Surajmukhi and then in a television film. Sudhir Mishra, also a Film Institute graduate, had offered her the cameo role of Chitrangada Singh’s mother in Inkaar, which also featured Arjun Rampal.
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SpotboyE derived the information about Rehana’s difficult-beyond-imagination condition from a senior actress. “It breaks my heart to see Rehana going through extremely difficult times,” she stated. “It would be a great relief to her if she can get some work at this point. She has a lot of khuddari. It’s unbelievable that this is happening to a heroine who was a rage for her game-changing performances.”
The stories of both Ishara and Rehana are unique. The writer-director had run away from his home in Himachal Pradesh and carried out odd jobs at the film studios, including menial chores in the studio canteen. His passion to direct films was noticed and backed by Sanjeev Kumar, Shatrughan Sinha and the feisty character actress Nadira.
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Ishara directed Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bhaduri in an unconventional film titled Ek Nazar. Ishara’s output of 35 films often touched upon the subject of social hypocrisy towards sexual relationships. Often, he argued for the rehabilitation of sex workers.
Besides Chetna and Dastak, Rehana who was born to a conservative family in Allahabad, scored rave notices for her performances in Haar Jeet, Prem Parbat, Yeh Sach Hai, Khote Sikkay and Agent Vinod.
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Regrettably, her present condition indicates a classic instance of hard luck. Rehana who has not craved for sympathy, surely needs support from her less gifted but far more fortunate Bollywoodwallas.