Rekha is one starlet of the industry who has sex appeal as much as grace. She blithely carries the femininity in her and presents a beautiful portray of self. Three adjectives sum up what Rekha is. She is a mystique. She is seductive. And, she is elegant. She is perhaps the ultimate diva of Bollywood.
Born as Bhanurekha Ganeshan, this damsel stepped on the pedestal of acting only to support her family. Genteel poverty had started taking her family down the hill. So Rekha had to divert herself from studies and turn to acting. Some decisions are worth the try. Had it not been for her family we would never have a prima donna like Rekha.
Rekha was once vivacious and chirpy. They say the film Khubsoorat was actually based on her character. Manju Dayal’s character was closely sketched keeping the personality of Rekha in mind. This was during the time when Rekha shared a close affinity with Director Hrishikesh Mukherjee. However, soon Rekha became a recluse.
Her bungalow in Bandra, Bandstand, often seems like a haunted castle with the drapes drawn down. She hardly ever meets outsiders or her fans unlike her neighbors Salman and Shah Rukh. She has engulfed herself in her own mysterious world. She hardly ever receives calls. She calls her mobile as a “missed call machine.” It is often that her landline rings and takes the listener to an answering machine or to her maid. Her maid might ask the caller zillions of questions before handing the phone to “Madame”. No one knows why Rekha chose a life of a recluse over the stardom that washed her feet.
To decipher the mystery about this lady is way too difficult. She hardly gives us a glimpse of her feelings. In her interviews too she is very succinct. We do not aim to pry into her past but her relationship with Superstar Amitabh Bachchan is still a raw gossip amongst the Bollywood fans. In her interview to Simi Garewal she is seen beating around the bush while trying to answer a simple question pertaining to her feelings for Bachchan.
There is so much more about this lady who has aged with experience and for whom numbers have never mattered. A strong willed woman Bhanurekha with the vestal dreams to be an air-hostess turns into an actress, then portrays an image of a Bhartiya Naari, switches to being a Diva and by accepting the character roles fits in perfectly as the seductress. There was a time when concerts would be sold in her name but her candid affairs got better of her and she was literally dumped by Bollywood.
Here are some very rare images of the lovely lady and a report in a leading magazine about Mukesh Agarwal’s suicide.
Rekha in her lifetime and her career has seen many downfalls. She has seen worst of this industry. She has been maligned, abused and gotten embroiled in needless controversies. After the suicide of her industrialist husband Mukesh Agarwal she was almost ostracized by the industry. She was soon linked with Vinod Mehra. It was believed that she married Mehra. However, clearing the air she got talking about her marriage to Mehra being a mere rumor.
Behind the polished veneer Rekha is still a naïve girl, a love child disregarded by her father, the one who was hailed as the ugly duckling in her early days. But who soon proved the world wrong and emerged as the definitive seductress of Bollywood.
We only wish this Iron Lady of Bollywood very, very Happy Birthday.