Rekha: The enduring fame and pain of Bollywood’s original diva

Written by Shaikh Ayaz
| Mumbai |

Updated: October 10, 2020 9:32:56 am

Rekha, who has completed a jaw-dropping 180 movies and upwards, got here at a time when actresses like Sharmila Tagore, Asha Parekh and Mumtaz have been ruling the marquee. (Express archive picture)

From the time of her teenaged Bollywood debut in Anjana Safar to Super Nani, Rekha has loomed tremendous massive within the nationwide consciousness. In some sense, she is a worthy throwback, or an heir should you select to see it that method, to the basic heroines of the yore like Madhubala and Meena Kumari. Dreadfully, with the latter, she has a lot in widespread. For each, superstardom got here at an incredible private price. Love, relationships and home bliss have been arduous to return by. Men have been directly their raison d’etre and nemesis.

On her 66th birthday, we check out her biography, Rekha: The Untold Story, written by Yasser Usman, which makes an attempt to carry forth the extraordinary character although it takes the acquainted route that saved gossip and fan magazines of a sure period in circulation – Rekha’s salacious private life.

Like Meena, Rekha had a troublesome childhood. While Meena’s abba left her in an orphanage solely to return and discover ants crawling everywhere in the child’s physique, Rekha’s father, the nice Gemini Ganesan’s present to Rekha was far worse – the lifelong curse of being Gemini Ganesan’s illegitimate daughter. Rekha’s want of and safety from males all through her life might be seen via the illegitimacy prism.

As if the childhood baggage wasn’t sufficient, Rekha’s private life as a star grew to become a floor on which many a battleground was fought. Ironically, the ravishing magnificence or diva as we all know her at the moment wasn’t recognised as one in her early years. Shashi Kapoor was compelled to name her “dark, plump and gauche” and puzzled if she was “ever going to make it.”

But make it, she did.

khayyam, khayyam dead, khayyam music, khayyam songs, mohammad rafi, films, raj kapoor, shola aur shabnam, art and culture news, indian express news Rekha bagged the National Award for her efficiency in Umrao Jaan.

Rekha, who has completed a jaw-dropping 180 movies and upwards, got here at a time when actresses like Sharmila Tagore, Asha Parekh and Mumtaz have been ruling the marquee. But there was one thing pure in regards to the new entrant. Her performances, whether or not it’s Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Ghar (for the report, the movie is her private favorite and she described it as her main breakthrough in “serious acting”), Umrao Jaan or Ijaazat, mirror the pain, melancholy and the lived experiences (of rejections and heartbreaks) of a troubled life.

“Tum namkeen ho, aur namkeen cheezon ka swaad hamesha zyada yaad rehta hai,” Meena Kumari is as soon as believed to have instructed Rekha. That assertion bears witness to Rekha’s enduring fame and longevity.

She is commonly described as an enigma. Yet, if you concentrate on it, it’s not like she’s Greta Garbo who saved herself away from the prying press. She was accessible and but, perpetually unknowable. So a lot of Rekha and her numerous affairs and eccentricities are out within the public area. We know a lot about her and nonetheless there’s a sense that we don’t know her sufficient. That explains the cinema-crazed India’s inexhaustible want and capability for Rekha-mongering. That additionally explains why in any award ceremony, if Rekha is on stage there’s a compulsory shot of a sheepish Amitabh Bachchan and vice versa.

Despite her lengthy absences from display, she stays a serious draw. Is Rekha, then, within the information purely for her so-called affair with Amitabh? The reply is an emphatic ‘no.’ She stands out as the perpetual Other Woman within the real-life Silsila of the Bachchan saga however so far as her Bollywood rep goes, Rekha is the First Lady.

Much like Amitabh, Rekha is the one star of her technology who has travelled nicely through the years and aged gracefully. The key distinction between Rekha and her contemporaries is that whereas others put on their age on their sleeves, Rekha appears virtually ageless. Many see her as an evergreen magnificence, nonpareil and in a league of her personal. Among the youthful lot, she instructions a ‘touch the feet’ form of reverence.

rekha Despite her lengthy absences from display, she stays a serious draw. (Source: APH Images)

How did Rekha turn out to be so revered a determine from the “national vamp”, in Anupam Kher’s vibrant phrases? Rekha-bashing was as soon as a favorite sport of the petty-minded film folks. She was referred to as egregious names – man eater, black widow and marriage breaker. This is similar Rekha who allegedly abetted the suicide of her husband.

At the center of India’s Rekha worship is our quiet acceptance of her as an aged, if glamorous, matriarch. It’s tragic and even laughable that though she was by no means thought of as the proper spouse materials she has seamlessly handed into the realm of a mom determine by method of her widowhood and general seniority within the business scheme of issues.

At 66, Rekha is lastly domesticated. She has become the “Bharat ki nari” that Subhash Ghai was so positive she gained’t turn out to be. It is to Rekha’s credit score that though she carried the “wounds” in her coronary heart, as her Umrao Jaan director Muzaffar Ali put it, she isn’t a “broken person in the end.”

Clearly, the pain of being Rekha far outstrips the pleasures of her stardom. There’s a worth to pay for fame and no one is aware of that in addition to the daughter of Gemini Ganesan.

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