|HOME | MOVIES | COLUMN|
Subhash K Jha
As Ramdulari in Lajja, Rekha proves one thing beyond doubt: Film queens don't fade away. They simply reinvent themselves.
Every reinvention of Rekha has been a voyage of discovery for this ultimate glam-goddess.
Envy? Or was Rekha simply a victim of her own image?
I had met her three years ago. My initial attempts to get through to her were stonewalled by the declaration that Rekha only does interviews with editors. I wasn't.
After a lot of persuasion from a mutual friend, I was granted an hour of her precious time at her Bandra office. No journalist, as far as I know, has been inside her home. A couple of my star friends have. None are willing to reveal what they’ve seen.
She wore a white salwar kameez, her face magically devoid of all makeup, and sat behind an oversized glass top table. As the sun slipped into the sea behind her, Rekha’s reflection fell on the table. That moment is frozen in my memory as the archetypal representation of her personality.
I don't think anyone knows the real Rekha. Not even Rekha herself. There's this constant exploration of the 'real Rekha' that goes on between the actress and her hand-chosen journalist friends. Too bad I'm not one of them.
The one interview that I did with her was, according to her, a failure. "He didn’t understand me," she told a mutual friend later.
Now I realise what she meant. To Rekha, her mask is both a protecting shield and a tragic face of stardom. She wants it on, but she also wants it peeled off, so she would feel like herself again.
Rekha has undergone too much stress as a person and a professional to remember the original self. At 15, she was a gawky plump, dark and oily teenager from Madras trying her luck in Bombay. Producers weren’t kind to her.
The wounds never healed. But stardom came to Bhanurekha as Rekha within a year of her arrival in Bombay.
Producer-director Mohan Sehgal took her under his wing and made her a star in Saawan Bhadon. Decades later, they met at the premiere of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s exquisite Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.
Now approaching 80, Sehgal congratulated his erstwhile protégée for her performance in Sanjay’s classic.
Rekha smiled wistfully: "That wasn’t me in the film. That's Aishwarya Rai, a new girl."
Rekha started by mimicking Mumtaz and Sharmila Tagore in her early films like Elaan and Duniya Ka Mela (where a certain struggler called Amitabh Bachchan was thrown out and replaced by the hot-and-happening Sanjay Khan), even in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Namak Haraam.
She blossomed overnight with Dulal Guha’s Do Anjaane and Maneck Chatterjee’s Ghar. That’s when the 'real' Rekha was born on screen even as the person behind the mask grew more and more distanced from reality.
Rekha’s third coming was in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khubsoorat where, doing a takeoff on her favourite actor Amitabh Bachchan, she created a blithe and believable personality. Singing R D Burman's Kayda kayda (a tune which, incidentally, preempted Kuch na kaho in 1942 - A Love Story), Rekha broke every rule of star power with this heroine-oriented comedy.
Her fourth innings started with Yash Chopra’s Silsila. The film turned her into an icon.
Shyam Benegal’s Zubeidaa and Rajkumar Santoshi’s Lajja begins Rekha’s fifth and most fruitful phase. Which other actress would allow herself to be pushed aside by her screen souten with such grace? Who would play a Dalit victim of gangrape with such anguished dignity and strength?
There's something incomparable about Rekha. Even in her state of self-imposed solitude she remains uniquely seductive. I tried to speak to her after Lajja. Her ever-faithful companion and secretary Farzana took all my compliments on her behalf. "I'm sure she'll be very happy to hear this," the polite lady said, happily.
ASTROLOGY | BROADBAND | CONTESTS | E-CARDS | ROMANCE | WOMEN | WEDDING
SHOPPING | BOOKS | MUSIC | PERSONAL HOMEPAGES | FREE EMAIL| MESSENGER | FEEDBACK