Waheeda Rehman

Veteran actress Waheeda Rehman (center) on the sets of her upcoming film, “Desert Dolphin.” (photo provided)

MUMBAI—After a long break, legendary actress Waheeda Rehman will be seen in Manjari Makijany’s international skateboarding feature film, “Desert Dolphin.” Makijany is the late MacMohan (Samba of ‘Sholay’)’s daughter, and this will mark the L.A.-based lady’s directorial debut.

The film is set in the rustic village of Khempur near Udaipur, Rajasthan, where the filmmakers have built one of India’s largest skate-parks. Interestingly, Waheeda Rehman has never gone to Udaipur since she shot “Guide,” in which she played the iconic character of Rosy, who breaks free from her bad marriage to an old man.

Rehman became nostalgic about shooting in Udaipur again and said, “I’ve come to Udaipur after a very long time. When I was last here, we had stayed at the Lake Palace Hotel. I was pleasantly surprised when the filmmakers organized a memorable trip to the Palace so that I could relive those memories.”

When asked how she got on board this independent project, the actress, for whom “Guide” easily ranks among her top five performances, said, “I never think of a project as big or small. From the very beginning, I wanted to and have been experimenting. But in the 60 years of my career, I have never accepted a project so quickly. Before this, I hadn’t heard much about skateboarding or seen a skate-park in India. But, when I heard the story and its unique concept, I felt so inspired that I immediately agreed to do the film. To my knowledge, this is also the first time in my career that I have worked with a female director.”

The L.A.-based executive producer, Michael P., said that it was an honor to have her on board, “She’s immensely talented and a true champion of gender equality both on-screen and off-screen. She’s brought something special to this film.”

Producer Emmanuel P. added that the actress believed in the deeper intention of the story. He said, “It was such a relief when she accepted the film because we were trying to connect with her for a while, and knew going in that she usually doesn’t say yes to projects easily.”

Vinati, the co-writer and co-producer, Mac Productions (named after their father MacMohan) says, “Putting this film together has been a challenging, transformative and inspiring process for me. Just observing Waheeda- ji at work was like attending a mini film school. She strikes the perfect work-life balance.”

The Makijany sisters extensively researched the growing skate culture in India and co-wrote the screenplay. They hope to inspire the youth with this coming-of-age story where Prerna, a teenage girl, finds freedom on the skateboard while Jessica, an NRI, played by Amrit Maghera, finds purpose when she builds Rajasthan’s first skate-park for the local community. The film is set to release in 2020.

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