was just a fifteen - year - old with an enviable bust line (read
forty-two), when she first landed in Bombay fresh out of the starched
uniform of some convent school in Madras.
It was in the winter of
'68 that Mohan Segal signed Rekha for her first Hindi movie opposite Navin
Nischol: The name Sawan Bhadon. A party was thrown to introduce her to
Most newcomers are shy and hesitant. Not Rekha. Her
answers to all questions were bold and spoken out. And as the intake of
pegs by our brethren of the Fourth Estate increased, so did their
questions grow bolder. Yet Rekha was never at a loss for the quick
By the time that party was over no doubts remained that
she had won the journalists completely over. They had never encountered
anyone, new or old, who was as frank and fearless as this brash, young
girl-woman. Could this outspoken fifteen-year-old have been coached to
say the boldest things? I doubt it. The girl had apparently seen life
raw and lived it to the full even before catching that plane to Bombay.
She knew how to speak for herself.
The Sawan Bhadon unit did not immediately leave for location
shooting in Poona. In the meantime, Mohan Segal had put up Rekha and
her mother at a posh hotel in Juhu. Rekha was given tuition to perfect
her Hindi diction, and her dancing.
It was during this period that
Sajid Khan had just returned from the States after making a big name for
Rekha spotted him one morning at Mehboob
Studios.It was the blast-off for her first serious friendship,I remember
Rekha's words clearly when she set eyes on him, because I was around
then and saw what occurred."Oh my God!" this was said with awe and
reverence. "That's Sajid Khan? He's my favourite! I'm in love with him! I
have collected every photograph of his!"She scrambled out of the van in
which she had driven into the studio compound and ran straight up to
Sajid Khan. And that was that!
There followed a rapid succession
of midnight rendezvous; midnight-to-hell drives; and nine o'clock pairs
to parties. Sajid was the more experienced of the two-I mean, he'd been
in permissive America and all that. Rekha accompanied him everywhere he
went. How can you blame a poor girl who finds herself face to face with
the idol of whom she's dreamed for nights without end? Their dosti went
on strong until Rekha had to go to Poona for a month-long
location-shooting of Sawan Bhadon. Sajid obviously couldn't tag along,
nor was Rekha a big enough star to demand that the unit take her
boy-friend along, as well.
So exit Sajid Khan and enter Navin
Poona and Sawan Bhadon brought Rekha face to face with the
handsome, sleek and suave Navin (he'd just that year finished at the
Poona Film Institute). Rekha was bowled over.
however, apparently deterred Navin from Rekha. Firstly, his wife was
present on location. And secondly, this brash girl was apparently more
crude and earthy than the suave connoisseur's tastes would permit. And
her behavior was too school-girlish. Rekha, always a frank and
forthright, made it clear that she liked him a lot. But Navin coolly
resisted all invitations in Poona, at least. Location shooting over,
Navin and Rekha returned to Bombay where our heroine again took up the
old continuity with first flame. Sajid, who had earlier once confessed
that she was more than he could handle, now started to cling to her in
the hope that she might be good for his career.
The second stage
of Sawan Bhadon now commenced-the indoor shooting stage. So again, enter
Navin and exit Sajid. Every arrow in Cupid's bow was shot at the new
target, Navin, who had first resisted but now relented.
A man's a
man, after all! They met mostly after shooting (most of the indoors of
Sawan Bhadon were done at Roop Tera Studios) in Navin's car parked in
nooks and crannies of the Western Express Highway. They also had to
attend premieres and film-functions together. One pretty air-hostess who
had flown them Air-India from Bombay to Delhi told me that they were
very lovey-dovey throughout the flight (under cover of an open
newspaper, of course!)
Did they tire of one another? Or did Rekha
realize that Navin, being a married man wouldn't be able to go far with
her? Whatever be the real reason for the break-up, the fact is that one
night after quite a few pegs Navin con?fessed that "she drained me."
The sentence speaks for itself.
Sawan Bhadon was a thumping
success. It celebrated silver jubilees everywhere. It was the first
non-star cast, low-budget movie to break the stranglehold of big
star-cast productions. And it propelled two newcomers to stardom's dizzy
heights. Both Navin and Rekha signed up movies by the dozen.
now signed up with her new friend, philosopher and guide (no, not Mohan
Seghal) Kuljit Paul, who had taken charge of her affairs (read
business) and consequently management of her finances too. Naturally, he
starred Rekha in his own movie, a pot-boiler called Anjana Safar ( later retitled Do Shikari),
and Biswajit as the leading-man. It was he who gave Rekha her first
kiss-her first screen kiss, I mean-by creeping up behind her, swinging
her into his arms and grinding his lips on hers.
must have dynamite in his lips (because his are certainly not the
sexiest ones around) for poor Rekha apparently fainted off right away!
And, to cap it all, LIFE Magazine did a feature showing a photograph of
hers in that kiss-and-faint scene!
So enter Biswajit!
went about promoting her friendship with Biswajit very quickly. She was
always at his house (Biswajit's wife was always in Calcutta) while the
friendship lasted, which wasn't very long. It cooled off rapidly
too-perhaps because by then Biswajit's professional career had begun its
sharp nosedive-and both Rekha and Biswajit became really good friends
in the most innocent sense of that term!
producer B. N. Ghosh (he was Jeetendra's secretary) teamed Rekha with
Jeetendra in his movie Ek Bechara in 1970, Rekha was a very popular
star, while Jeetu had had flops all around him like nine pins, after his
huge initial success in Farz. A smooth and fast worker is our acrobatic
hero, Jeetendra. So when he started making advances to her, poor girl,
she was easily fooled into thinking it was love. Rekha gives of her
heart and her emotions easily. But Jeetu was in it for the publicity
value of the romance, to help bolster his sagging star career. Luckily
Ek Bechara was moderately successful, so Jeetu and Rekha were again
teamed together by producer Kundan Kumar in Anokhi Ada.
through this movie, a sudden crack appeared in their relationship. The
rift widened rapidly and noticeably until the chasm between them became
unbridgeable. It is said that it was entirely the man's fault. The unit
boys and invisible workers, who watch everything most observantly on all
studio sets, reported in to say that he used to treat her like a
One day, while shooting on a huge set with about a
hundred junior artistes also present, Jeetendra was heard to remark
(unintentionally loud) to his hangers-on what he thought of her. Rekha
heard that. And it hurt, badly. Like a wounded deer she fled from the
sets into her makeup room, flung herself on the couch and sobbed her
heart out. She never spoke to Jeetendra again, and she will never speak
to him for the rest of her life.
Anokhi Ada was completed with the utmost difficulty. Whatever
romance and love scenes you saw in that movie after the interval were
just put-ons for the benefit of the cameras. During the shooting, after
every take, they would not look at one another. That chapter in her life
was closed for ever. The end of the Jeetendra friendship found Rekha at
the height of mental suffering, misery and emotional insecurity.
The film industry is notorious for wolves on the prowl and
Rekha was the easy victim. People who I know to be scum of the
filthiest order exploited this gullible and ge?nerous-hearted girl and
cheated her out of lakhs of rupees. It was inevitable that there be some
reaction. There was. Rekha had a nervous breakdown, and when she
surfaced Shatrughan Sinha was there to give her a consoling arm. It is
to the credit of Shatru that though a blabber-mouth by nature, he kept
very quiet about Rekha and himself, even though he needed the publicity
very, very badly at that time. That news of it broke out subsequently
was no fault of his.
In the movie industry people do get to know
about each others affairs. Remember, movie land comprises of only about
fifty news makers. In due course, the infatuation between Shatru and
Rekha also fizzled out and today they're merely good friends-and also
good co-workers. They're starring together in a couple of movies now on
know they were ever together until this article!
Approximately at this time the first genuine lover she's
ever had entered Rekha's life -Vinod Mehra, a gentleman to his
fingertips. Who spotted who is immaterial now, but neither of them could
live without the other. They were seen everywhere together- holding
hands, smooching, necking, driving around in Vinod's Volkswagen, having
dinner in the wee hours of the morning in a cozy corner of the Shamiana.
They were so close to one another that Rekha was also the unofficial
hostess at Vinod's sister's marriage-and that's saying a hell of a lot!
Rekha came in for criticism, Vinod Mehra was always there to defend
her, both verbally and in print.
He was the first genuine guy who
loved Rekha for Rekha's sake - not for Rekha, the famous. His was the
only serious concern in the vast ocean of hypocritical and
money-motivated love, which lapped all around this good-hearted but
foolish girl. But there was one hitch. Vinod's mother did not want Rekha
as her bahu. She kept discouraging Vinod, but he was adamant. At one
stage Rekha wanted him to choose -beloved or mother. I believe Vinod
skirted this ultimatum by persuading Rekha to bide her time while he
tried to heal the rift between mother and sweetheart.
wait was a long wait. It appeared to stretch right up to forever-and
Rekha's one hell of an impatient gal! And then suddenly this dashing
young fellow called Baba appeared on the scene. He sprouted out of the
Nav Ketan office one fine morning, where he had been planted by Uncle
Dev Anand to look after his business affairs. Yash Kohli (for that is
Baba's real name) soon became a producer and naturally -starred Rekha in
his movie Double Cross. Inevitably, the Rekha-Baba romance hit
sensation-hungry headlines. Yash Kohli is kind, large-hearted,
ever-smiling and perfect company, and this sort of nature has always
strongly appealed to Rekha.
Whenever Vinod Mehra was away from
Bombay either for location shootings or to attend film premieres in
other cities, Rekha could be seen with Yash Kohli at this or that
restaurant, hotel, or in his black Fiat. She was soon dividing her time
evenly between Baba and Vinod. Rekha must have by then given up hopes
that Vinod's mother would ever agree to have her as a bahu. Rekha's
outbursts against Vinod's mother continued and, as usual, Vinod
maintained a discreet silence about everything and continued to defend
Rekha in public. Even after that now immortal "poisoned upma" episode it
was Vinod Mehra who called the press conference. Wasn't all this
manifestation of the total love that he bore for her?
and Rekha get married secretly? Apparently they did, in Calcutta. The
latest gossip indicates that they are both seeking a divorce. And the
split is now final because Vinod, when he took up with Rekha, never
dated anybody else. He is now occasionally seen dating Zahida, or and
this or that girl. Rekha did the most foolish thing of her twenty-one
years when she ditched Vinod. He was the only man who had brought some
sort of stability to her stress-filled and chaotic life.
Rekha's latest is now Kiran Kumar. He, who had once
declared that he would marry Yogeeta, now took Rekha's hand in his own
and her head on his shoulders. Vinod Mehra and Kiran Kumar had once been
on the best of terms, so much so that each used to confide to each
other about their respective loves. I do not know who the villain of the
piece is -if there is one-or did Rekha on the rebound throw herself
into the nearest available arms? Only time will tell.
insists that her true love was always Yash Kohli and that she had been
leading Vinod Mehra on as she is leading Kiran Kumar on now. "I don't
even feel anything for the boy (Kiran)," Rekha says. She just did it to
make Baba jealous.
"I've lived a facade," Rekha says, "and no one
is more miserable than me today."
The big question is: can Rekha
ever hold on to anybody for good? Why does she feel this compulsive
need to flit from man to man in search of some ultimate gratification
she never seems to find? Will she ever find the perfect a man? Or will
her life be one long quest-always seeking, never finding?
is a nice girl. True, she never had much of adolescence, with the
spotlights beckoning her at such a tender age. No doubt, she is flying
high but with broken wings, regrets and memories that will make her toss
and turn through countless sleepless nights.
Though the original story published then in
CineBlitz ends here, but destiny was fast paving way for Rekha to find
the man with whom her romance and association would be remembered for
years to come. Rekha and Amitabh fell in love and still are one of the
most written about couples the industry ever saw.
Lets not also forget that in 1990
she married Mukesh Aggarwal, who then later in 1991 committed suicide.