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REKHA: THE UNTOLD STORY

— JASMEEN DUGAL

Rekha — The Untold Story By Yasser Usman is about the transformation of fourteen-year-old accidental actor Bhanurekha Ganesan from Madras into the diva who ruled Bollywood.

 

The fast-paced well written biography begins with a foreword where the author reveals that despite repeated attempts through her secretary Farzana, he could not interview Rekha. He got the answering machine each time he tried and finally after research and interviews with Bollywood luminaries and journalists, he begins writing… The book opens with Rekha's marriage to industrialist Mukesh Agarwal, a story of intense pain. No one sympathised with her when her husband was taking medication for chronic depression and was also involved with his own psychiatrist Akash Bajaj; moreover ''Mukesh's almost neurotic eagerness to rub shoulders with the rich and famous would mortify Rekha…but like a phoenix she would rise again…'' after he hung himself from a fan using her dupatta. This is a horrifying experience for anyone, particularly someone whose slightest movement makes headlines, but instead several powerful people in the industry called her a witch, bad-mouthed and boycotted her. While Anupam Kher labelled her as 'the national vamp' director-producer Subhash Ghai said, "Rekha has put such a blot on the face of the film industry… any respectable family will think twice before accepting an actress as their bahoo."As a lady I am outraged reading this biography and my heart goes out to her.

 

Professionally too Rekha has been through pain and humiliation before courageously rising above it. While shooting her first film 'Anjana Safar', the scene that was to be shot at Mehboob Studios was romantic. When Raja said 'action', Biswajeet grabbed Rekha and smooched her for five minutes, catching her completely unaware. While the camera rolled and the crew ludicrously whistled and cheered, Biswajeet kept kissing Rekha who had tightly closed her eyes so the tears didn't escape… why didn't anyone from the industry stand up for her then instead of labelling her as a sex kitten and vamp throughout her career…. precipitated by that kiss?

 

The biography also documents her lovers right from a affair with actor Jeetendra about whom she says ''I hate the man who destroyed my childhood ideals of love, romance and marriage'' when he left her and said unsavoury things about why he had been with her at all; her alleged marriage with actor Vinod Mehra and parting ways because of not being accepted by his mother who refused to let the 'bride' enter the house. Her second marriage with businessman Mukesh Agarwal and his suicide; and of course the decade's most tumultuous love affair with superstar Amitabh Bachchan… the husband of legendary actress Jaya Bachchan, a lady she used to affectionately call 'didbhai'. Yet she said, ''the fact that he was a married man doesn't make any difference. A rose is a rose is a rose.'' The writer reveals how Rekha shocked everyone at the Rishi Kapoor-Neetu Singh wedding by wearing a red bindi and sindoor. Guests and the media couldn't stop speculating if Rekha was now secretly married to Amitabh Bachchan… or was it a stunt to get his attention… or was it to be in the news? Unfazed, she went up to Amitabh and spoke fondly, leaving Jaya Bachchan in tears.

 

Closing the book at the point where the writer describes how Jaya Bachchan and Rekha stood together and applauded when Amitabh Bachchan went up on stage to collect an award for 'Piku', I couldn't help being in awe of the award-winning actress and striking beauty listed among the world's most attractive women. At this age, she basks in her age-defying youthful beauty and is seen gracing award shows, in fabulous Kanjeevaram saris. But something has changed… though she conceals pain, her glib repartee and delightful persona has been toned down to a stoic silence.
 

Rekha — The Untold Story By Yasser Usman
Rekha — The Untold Story By Yasser Usman
 
24-JUNE-2018
 
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