'Rekha will perform the part in Rajya Sabha'
If Rekha's role in Parliament is well-scripted, it may be an award winning performance.
The diva has been nominated by the Congress party to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Parliament, and she has accepted.
If the decision to nominate the actress is astonishing, so is her acceptance, given her reputation for being something of a recluse.
In this revealing interview with Patcy N, Bharthi S Pradhan, editor of Film Street Journal and a long time Rekha-watcher, sheds light on the enigmatic actress and how she will handle her new role
How has Rekha changed over the years, from the girl who came from Chennai, to a huge actress and a recluse and now a Rajya Sabha member?
There has been a very marvellous and distinct change in Rekha. When she came into the industry, she was completely un-groomed. She is a determined person.
She came from Chennai when she was barely 12 years old and look at the way she speaks Hindi now -- without an accent. That's more than Hema Malini has managed in all these years.
It is not just about the look, it wasn't about losing weight, wearing the right clothes, right make-up -- of course, she learnt all that along the way -- but it was more than that.
I think there was a change in each and everything, a big improvement in her. She matured as a person. There was more depth and substance in her acting.
On the other hand, her choice of films has been wrong very often. Even recently she did terrible films with Mallika Sherawat (Bachke Rehna Re Baba). You wouldn't think at this stage of her career she would do something like this. She doesn't even need to. I don't know why she would accept something like that.
So you wonder, has she really matured or has she gone back to what she was when she came (from Chennai).
You can't take Rekha for granted and say she has come a long way and she has become sensible because she will suddenly surprise you by doing a complete volte-face.
'I think Rekha is cleverer than Lata Mangeshkar'
Rekha is rarely seen -- usually only at awards functions. Why do you think she accepted the Rajya Sabha membership and come out of that solitude?
Those award functions are seasonal outings. Suddenly you will see all those Kanjivaram saris and chunky jewellery sets come out. She has looked the same for the last 15 years. You can easily juxtapose her appearance at an awards function 10 years ago and one today and she will look the same.
I haven't talked to her after she accepted the Rajya Sabha nomination. I wish I had because then I would know what was on her mind. I can only guess that she probably did it because she has reached a stage in her life where she was stagnant.
Her film career is not giving her the kind of happiness and satisfaction that she probably felt she needed. How long can you live like a Greta Garbo inside your Bandstand bungalow?
If it (the Rajya Sabha membership) if offered to a person, nobody is going to say no to it. Even a Lata Mangeshkar, who had no intention of ever stepping into the Rajya Sabha, said yes to it.
I think Rekha is a little cleverer than Lata Mangeshkar. I don't think she is going to do a Lata and stay away from Parliament.
Image: Rekha in Aurat Aurat Aurat
'Rekha had the reputation of being flighty and unpredictable'
Do you think she has thought it through carefully?
When Rekha was still acting regularly, she had this habit of disappearing from the sets. The entire unit would be waiting. And then they would come to know that she has taken flight and gone back home.
She had the reputation of being flighty and unpredictable. But a lot of times she did it because somebody hadn't paid her, or somebody had promised her something and hadn't fulfilled it.
There was a reason for her behaviour; it wasn't erratic and without reason. So, having known her past, there is always a reason for her actions.
She must have thought it over (before accepting the seat). After all, she is 56 years old and at that age you surely know what you are letting yourself in for.
Do you think she is taking this step to get into politics?
I have never known Rekha to be political. I have never even known what her political views are.
Usually, when you talk to somebody, or you kept track of somebody, you do know which way they are inclined, what kind of ideology they seem to go for. But in Rekha's case, one doesn't even know whether she will go to the Congress or the BJP or Samajwadi.
I am really surprised because of all those of her generation she seemed the least likely to go into such a public arena. Since she has gone in, may be she has some idea.
'If Rekha has an opinion she will definitely voice it'
Most celebs nominated to the Rajya Sabha have hardly spoken; do you think she will be different?
Shabhana Azmi is very vocal. Irrespective of how scintillating their performance, at least the sincerity cannot be doubted of people like Hema Malini and Shatrughan Sinha who was at one time in the Rajya Sabha.
With people like Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar, you know that they want to do their best. They are there because of their contribution to art. That is very clear, so don't expect them to perform miracles and overnight become the most knowledgeable people on earth.
In that sense, Rekha too may be all right. She is very well spoken though she didn't even finish school. I think she is someone who learns on the job, as she did in her film career. She is very sharp and can pick up a lot. So, if she wants to do something she can.
Do you think she will surprise people by giving her opinions and views in the Rajya Sabha?
If she has an opinion, she will definitely voice it. She is not afraid of public life. She is not afraid of the mike or the audience.
That is one thing that you have to give to these celebrities -- they are so used to talking in public that there's no stage fright in speaking in front of 400 people.
Image: Rekha in Muqaddar ka Sikandar
'People are not going to see the fireworks they are expecting'
She will be in the Rajya Sabha along with Jaya Bachchan. Do you think there will be friction?
I must clear this: they have been together at several functions. There was Gautam Rajadhyaksha's book release (on June 18, 2010). Rekha went and spoke to Jaya and Jaya greeted her with as much politeness as the occasion demanded.
Jaya definitely knows how to conduct herself in public. She is not the kind of person who is going to rave and rant and make a scene.
People are not going to see the fireworks they are expecting. They are going to find two very civil people from the industry in the Rajya Sabha.
Image: Rekha, Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan Silsila
'Rekha is never natural'
How do you think she will use her MP's funds? What are her interests?
I think she will do something to promote art and culture. Rekha is a good dancer so I think she will be very much like Hema Malini.
How will she conduct herself in the Rajya Sabha?
Well, she will be dressed for the part for sure. She will wear whatever is appropriate, that way she will be quite okay. I have seen her in casuals and she looks very nice. I think she will be appropriately dressed if nothing else.
Rekha is a good performer so I think she will perform the part. Whenever she steps out she is playing a part it is not Rekha, it is playing the celebrity who has to come out for an event. She is never natural.
So she will probably carry that act into Parliament and if it is well scripted it will be an award winning performance!
Would you call her fake?
Not a fake. I think she is just very aware that she has to behave in a certain way. For instance, that husky voice is something she developed; it is not natural. She uses it when it is necessary.
She just knows how to play the part.
Image: Rekha in Utsav