The evergreen diva of Hindi cinema, Rekha, turns 63 today. The actress was born on 10 October, 1954 in Chennai. She has worked her charm on the entire country, thanks to her numerous films, both critically and commercially successful.
Rekha has lived a life in Bollywood that is no less than heady mix of controversies, link-ups, successes and failures too. But the yesteryear actress always stood strong and didn’t let anything come in way of her glorious career.
From a forced smooch at a age of 15 to how Bollywood turned against her after her husband’s suicide, here are some untold stories of Rekha’s life which you have never heard.
Forced Smooch on a 15-year-old Rekha
While shooting her first film Anjana Safar, in Mumbai’s Mehboob Studio, a 15-year-old Rekha had to endure, what would today be called as ‘molestation’, in the hands of the film’s director Raja Nawathe and its star Biswajeet Chatterjee. Right before the shoot, Raja and Biswajeet had it all planned, down to the very last detail. The scene that was to be shot was a romantic scene.
The actress was shocked when Biswajeet caught hold of her and kissed her forcefully for a long time. With the entire crew members watching and hooting at the actress’ harassment, the incident earned Rekha the tag of ‘sex-kitten’. The director did yell ‘cut’ for five minutes, as Biswajeet kept kissing an unsuspecting Rekha for full five minutes. Rekha had tightly closed her eyes but they were full of tears.
When Vinod Mehra’s mother almost beat up Rekha with a chappal
Rekha got married to Vinod Mehra in Calcutta and returned to Bombay to his house. Vinod’s mother Kamla Mehra refused to let the newlywed bride inside her house and humiliated her in front of all the neighbours. Vinod tried to keep matters under control but his mother was too agitated. Kamla even picked up her slippers to throw at the actress in a fit of rage. She rushed to the lift crying before Vinod consoled her to stay till his mother calms down.
Rekha’s affair with Amitabh Bachchan
Rekha and Amitabh Bachchan’s rumoured affair was in almost all magazines of their time. Both were first seen together in 1976 film Do Anjaane and then in Ganga Ki Saugandh in 1978. Gossip mills started churning rumours about their affair, however, both the stars remained tight-lipped about the whole affair till date.
When Rekha attended Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh’s wedding wearing a Sindoor and Mangal sutra
“22 January, 1980. The occasion was Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh’s wedding. Neetu was a close friend of Rekha’s. The whole of R K Studio was grandly bedecked. The biggest names of the industry were in attendance, including Amitabh Bachchan, his wife, Jaya, and his parents.
Suddenly, Rekha made a ‘sensational entry’, wearing a spectacular white sari, with a red bindi on her forehead, and, well, red sindoor on her hair. The cameras soon moved away from Rishi-Neetu and focused on her.
Later, in an interview, Rekha said that the sindoor and mangalsutra were part of a film she was shooting. She had forgotten to remove them on her way to the wedding straight from the shoot.
Rekha and Jeetendra’s relationship
Before Vinod Mehra and Kiran Kumar, the actress was in a relationship with actor Jeetendra. During the shooting of Ek Bechara (1972) in Shimla, both the stars romanced, however, it soon came to an end when Rekha heard Jeetendra saying that she was ”time pass”.
What led to Rekha’s husband Mukesh Agarwal’s suicide?
In 1990, Rekha married Delhi-based industrialist Mukesh Aggarwal. After the wedding they went to London.
However, soon, Rekha got to know that Mukesh had chronic depression, which apparently, ran in his family. He was also involved with his psychiatrist ‘Akash Bajaj’. Soon, cracks appeared in the marriage as Mukesh began exhibiting erratic behaviour. He kept Rekha in the dark about his failing business, became too overbearing and started embarrassing her by leaving his work in Delhi and coming to Bombay and hanging around on her sets for no reason.
On October 2, 1990, seven months after their marriage, Mukesh, who reportedly seemed happy on the fateful day, according to his brother Anil, committed suicide. In fully filmy style, he tied one end of Rekha’s dupatta to the ceiling fan, made a noose out of it and then hanged himself to death with it.
A little after Rekha’s film “Sheshnaag” (1990) released, Mukesh’s death made headlines. People started to blacken Rekha’s face on Sheshnaag posters. At some places, they even threw dung at it. And so started a national witch hunt. The press lapped up the sensational story of Mukesh’s suicide and featured reports with outrageous headlines like ‘The Black Widow’ (Showtime, November 1990) and ‘The Macabre Truth behind Mukesh’s Suicide’ (Cine Blitz, November 1990).
A national witchhunt followed. People all over the country starting hating and shaming her as a cold-hearted man-eater. A furious Anil Gupta, reportedly, said, “My brother loved Rekha truly. For him love was a do or die attempt. He could not tolerate what Rekha was doing to him. Now what does she want, does she want our money?”
Akash Bajaj joined the gang as well. “I am angry at his death and absolutely furious with the person who caused this to him. I want to lash out and ask why?,” said Bajaj.
Surprisingly, director-producer Subhash Ghai also gave his piece of mind and attacked Rekha. The Karz director reportedly said, “Rekha has put such a blot on the face of the film industry that it’ll be difficult to wash it away easily. I think after this any respectable family will think twice before accepting any actress as their bahoo.”
He didn’t stop there. He added, “It’s going to be tough even professionally for her. No conscientious director will work with her ever again. How will the audience accept her as Bharat ki nari or insaf ki devi?“
Anupam Kher, Rekha’s co-star in many films around that time joined the chorus. He said, “She’s become the national vamp. Professionally and personally, I think it’s curtains for her. I mean I don’t know how will I react to her if I come face to face with her.”