Rehana took the cine-world by storm, when she first appeared on the silver screen way back in the mid-40s. After doing some unmemorable supporting roles, Rehana made her debut as a leading lady in Hum Ek Hain (1946) – a movie about national unity. Incidentally, Hum Ek Hain also marked Dev Anand’s debut.
The success of two Filmistan’s films Shehnai and Sajan (1947), made Rehana an overnight star. In Shehnai, she was paired with Dilip Kumar’s younger brother Nasir Khan and the success of the film can be attributed to its superhit musical score by C. Ramchandra including such hits as Maar katari mar jana (sung by Amirbai Karnataki) and Aana meri jaan meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday (sung by C. Ramchandra Shamshad Begum and Meena Kapoor). Late 40s and early 50s was the best phase of her career and with the exception of Dilip Kumar, Rehana was paired with almost all top Indian heroes of her era including Dev Anand (Dilruba), Raj Kapoor (Sunhere Din, Sargam), Kishore Kumar (Cham Chhama Chham), Prem Nath (Sagai) and Prem Adeeb (Actress).
Throughout her career, Rehana remained an undistinguished actress with theatrical acting style and artificial performances. However, it was her seductive dances and her knack for landing into controversies that kept her in limelight throughout the late 40s and early 50s. Whether it was her infamous “lesbian act” with Nigar Sultana in Sunehre Din (1949), or the famous bath scene in Dilruba (1950), Rehana stayed in the news. Shin Sinaki Boobla Boo (1952) became the first film to be banned by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting because of its low moral tone, and because it ‘throws the glamour of romance and heroism over criminal characters,treats sacred objects irreverently and is, in consequence, opposed to the interests of public decency and morality’.
After 1952, Rehana’s career sharply went on the decline as films like Rangeeli (1952), Chham Chhama Chham (1952), Hazar Raatein (1953), Samrat (1954) and Delhi Durbar (1956) all sank at the box-office. Frustrated by her predicament, she decided to migrate to Pakistan. Her first film in Pakistan was Shalimar (1956), where she co-starred with Sudhir. The film flopped terribly at box-office. She worked in a few more films but failed to impress Pakistani audience. Perhaps, during the making of Raat Ke Rahi (1960), she married its producer Iqbal Shehzad and gradually moved away from films as she became more engrossed on the home front. Later they got separated, and Rehana married a businessman, Sabir Ahmed. Her last appearances were in cameo forgettable roles including Zeba-Kamal starrer Dil ne Tujhe Maan Liya and Nayyar Sultana-Darpan starrer Dulhan, both released in 1963.
She was last seen as one of the panel of judges for `The Nigar Film Awards’ in 1995. Nowadays, Rehana is leading a window’s life in seclusion.