BOOKS: Rekha, The Untold Story

Veteran actress Rekha has a four-decade long career that boasts of more than 180 films. Maintaining a sensible balance between commercial and arthouse films, Rekha also has Filmfare awards and one National award in her kitty that speaks about her talent. In 2010, the Government of India had also honoured her with Padma Shri.

Rekha’s autobiography, Rekha: The Untold Story, written by Yasser Usman is doing rounds on the internet and reveal some of the most twisted highs and lows of Rekha’s personal life. From a forced smooch at a age of 15 to how Bollywood turned against her after her husband’s suicide, Rekha’s life surely hasn’t been a happy one.

According to edited from Rekha: The Untold Story published in the Times of India, here are some bitter truth and intriguing details from Rekha’s autobiography. She’s surely Bollywood’s most misunderstood diva.

1. When a 15-year-old Rekha was kissed forcefully while the unit members kept whistling and cheering!

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“The shooting of Anjana Safar was underway in Bombay’s Mahboob Studio. Raja Nawathe was the director and cinematographer of the film. In the very first schedule of the film, Kuljeet Pal (the director), Raja and Biswajeet (the lead actor) had hatched a plan, with Rekha as the unsuspecting victim. That day a romantic scene was to be filmed between Rekha and Biswajeet. Every last detail of the strategy had been decided before the shoot. As soon as the director Raj Nawathe said ‘action’, Biswajeet took Rekha in his arms and pressed his lips on hers. Rekha was stunned. This kiss had never been mentioned to her. The camera kept rolling; neither was the director ordering ‘cut’ nor was Biswajeet letting go of her. For all of five minutes, Biswajeet kept kissing Rekha. Unit members were whistling and cheering. Her eyes were tightly shut but they were full of tears.

Recalling the day, Biswajeet referred to the incident as Raja Nawathe’s idea. Raja had insisted that he kiss Rekha, not yet fifteen, catching her by surprise. Biswajeet maintained that it was not his fault, that he was merely working on the director’s instructions. “It was not for my enjoyment, but important for the film. Rekha felt betrayed and was furious,” admitted Biswajeet.”

2. How Rekha’s ‘perfect’ marriage turned into a living nightmare, resulting in his husband’s misfortunate suicide.

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Excerpt: Rekha was finally getting married. After a lifetime of seeking, Rekha, born out of wedlock, had finally got what she most desired: a legitimate surname.

“The initial days in London were beautiful. That was the first time that Rekha and Mukesh had spent so much time together. But it took only a week for Rekha to realise that they were very different people. She was also shocked to see Mukesh taking several pills a day. Still, she thought, now that they had to spend the rest of their lives together, such matters would have to be overlooked. ‘I’ve to make [a] success of it,’ she told herself. ‘Can Rekha fail in anything she attempts?’ They had been in London for more than a week. Rekha could see that something was troubling Mukesh. And then, one day, a gloomy Mukesh looked deep into her eyes and said, ‘There’s an AB in my life too.’

Three months into the marriage, the magnitude of her folly dawned on Rekha. She took a step back from the all-consuming relationship, and bought some time to think things through. But when making sense of the situation proved to be too difficult, she started distancing herself from Mukesh and his family. She stopped taking his phone calls. For a depressed Mukesh, this came as a huge blow. Reports of chinks in their relationship found their way into various publications, with headlines like ‘Rekha Exposed’ and ‘The Shocking Past of Rekha’s Husband’.

Climbing on top of his bed, he tied one end of the dupatta to the ceiling fan, pulled the noose around his neck and hanged himself.”

3. The witch hunt and when Bollywood publically shamed Rekha: Mukesh’s death made headlines and people started to blacken Rekha’s face on Sheshnaag posters. At some places, they even threw dung at it. And so started a national witch hunt.”

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“Earlier, in 1986, the fantasy film Nagina, where Sridevi played an ichchhadhari nagin, shape-shifting snake, proved to be a mammoth blockbuster, catapulting her to superstardom. With Sheshnaag (1990), Rekha also jumped on to the nagin bandwagon. A little after its release, Mukesh’s death made headlines. People started to blacken Rekha’s face on Sheshnaag posters. At some places, they even threw dung at it. And so started a national witch hunt. The press lapped up the sensational story of Mukesh’s suicide and featured reports with outrageous headlines like ‘The Black Widow’ (Showtime, November 1990) and ‘The Macabre Truth behind Mukesh’s Suicide’ (Cine Blitz, November 1990). An angry Anil Gupta said, ‘My brother loved Rekha truly. For him love was a do or die attempt. He could not tolerate what Rekha was doing to him. Now what does she want, does she want our money?’Akash Bajaj, too, remarked, ‘I am angry at his death and absolutely furious with the person who caused this to him. I want to lash out and ask why?'”

4. When Rekha attended Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh’s wedding wearing a Sindoor and Mangal sutra and left everyone stunned with one question: “Had Rekha married?”

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“22 January, 1980. The occasion was Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh’s wedding. Neetu was a close friend of Rekha’s. The whole of R K Studio was grandly bedecked. The biggest names of the industry were in attendance, including Amitabh Bachchan, his wife, Jaya, and his parents. The party was in full flow. Amitabh was talking to Manmohan Desai in a corner and Jaya was sitting with her mother-in-law, Teji Bachchan, when Rekha made a sensational entry. Dressed in a magnificent white sari, Rekha had a bright red bindi on her forehead. But what caught everyone’s eye was the generous dabbing of sindoor in her hair. The cameras instantly pivoted away from Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, and frenetically photographed Rekha’s curious new look. The dull drone of everyone murmuring and whispering filled the evening air; everyone wanted to know: had Rekha married?
According to the Cine Blitz report, after congratulating Rishi and Neetu, Rekha went and stood bang in the middle of R K Studio’s garden. When had she ever shied away from attention, or controversy? But her eyes kept darting towards Amitabh every other second. Gathering courage, Rekha took hold of her close friend Snehlata Pandey, the doctor who is credited with introducing Rekha to aerobics and better diets, and went over to where Amitabh was standing. All eyes, quite naturally, followed her. They were seen chatting formally for a few minutes. According to a report in Stardust, “Jaya tried to keep a stoic front for a long time, but eventually she had to bend her head and let the tears roll down.”

A few moments later, Rekha exited the party, leaving behind a trail of unanswered questions. In a somewhat anticlimactic interview, Rekha later cleared the air: that evening, she had come to the reception straight from a shoot. The sindoor and mangalsutra she was wearing were part of her get-up for a film, which she had forgotten to remove.”


About Indianspice Staff Reporter

Report and write stories for Indianspice.co.za. It is our ambitious goal to cover issues/events/news concerning South Africa and the diaspora.

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