The 77-year-old actress received a standing ovation as she was felicitated on-stage by Bollywood star Rani Mukerji in recognition of her unparalleled contribution to Indian cinema. (Agencies)
The Government of India has instituted the award to commemorate 100 years of Indian Cinema and Rehman said she is thrilled to be the first recipient of this prestigious honour.
"I am really humbled to receive such a great honour. I would like to thank the jury who suggested my name. I would like to thank all the people who I have worked with so far. My directors, producers, make-up artistes, technicians. Thank you for a wonderful journey," an emotional Rehman said after receiving the honour.
Rehman, who is known for her memorable performance in classics like 'Pyaasa', 'Kaagaz Ke Phool', 'Guide' and 'Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam', was awarded with a citation, a certificate, a medal (silver peacock), a shawl and a cash prize of Rs 10 lakh.
Several Bollywood stars, who attended the glitzy ceremony, congratulated the Rehman for her her long innings in cinema.
Singer Asha Bhonsle, who has sung for Rehman in several movies, said the actress deserved this laurel.
"I am very happy for Waheedaji. She is getting this prestigious award and she completely deserves it," Bhonsle said, adding 'Bhawra bada nadan hain' is her favourite song by her picturised on Rehman in 'Sahib, Bibi Aur Ghulam'.
Filmmaker Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, who has worked with the veteran actress in two films- 'Rang De Basanti' and 'Delhi 6', said, "On my ten best films list, more than half are movies starring Waheedaji. I had the opportunity to work with her twice and I am so happy that she is receiving the honour."
Actor Prem Chopra, who has collaborated with Rehaman in the past, said he is happy to see Rehman receive such a prestigious honour.
"We have worked together several times and the last film we did together was 'Delhi 6'. I am happy for her. She is an artist who will be remembered all life long," Chopra said.
Young Bollywood actresses like Huma Qureshi and Alia Bhatt also congratulated the veteran actress.
The 77-year-old actress received a standing ovation as she was felicitated on-stage by Bollywood star Rani Mukerji in recognition of her unparalleled contribution to Indian cinema.