53 years ago Waheedaji had done a Bengali film with the doyen of Indian cinema Satyajit Ray. Now she is back in Arshinagar, a Bengali film directed by Aparna Sen.
She recalls the experience with pleasurable laughter. "When I was offered Abhijaan I didn't know any Bengali at all. But Satyajit Ray Saab insisted, saying my character spoke a mixture of Bhojpuri, Hindi, Urdu and Bengali. I agreed only because he had faith in me." Waheedaji did another Bengali film Jeevan Je Rokom featuring Ranjit Mallick which according to her didn't turn out that well.
She loved shooting in Kolkata. "I've shot many films in Hindi and some in Bangla in Kolkata. It's always a pleasure to be part of the city."
Waheedaji admits she has always been low on self-esteem. "I always feel I wouldn't be able to carry off what the directors require from me. Luckily I manage. I really enjoyed my short stint with Aparna in Kolkata. The entire unit was very nice. The young actors were very sweet. I didn't have scenes with the Bengali hero Dev who plays the romantic lead, the girl Rittika who plays my granddaughter was very sweet. Roopa Ganguly who is very talented is also there with me. She plays my daughter."
Waheedaji thinks the time is right for Aparna to do another Hindi film. "There are so many fabulous heroine-oriented projects happening in Mumbai, whether it's Kahaani, Bobby Jasoos Queen or Mardaani. Women never had it so good in Hindi cinema. Reputed producers like Aditya Chopra, Karan Johar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali are backing reasonably budgeted sensible films. Bhansali produced Mary Kom recently. I think the time is right for Aparna to do another Hindi film. Abb art film aur commercial film ke beech ka daaera raha nahin. The barriers have dissolved. This is the best time for a filmmaker like Aparna Sen."
As for Waheedaji her fans needn't get hopeful. She is unlikely to be seen on screen anytime very soon after Arshinagar. "I don't see myself doing anything significant in the films today. I am happy doing the occasional film."