From Amitabh Bachchan and Madonna to the magical movies and the other woman on screen, Rekha tells it like only she can. Jitesh Pillai attempts to ruffle the queen bee with a series of posers, while she adroitly deflects all the bouncers with elan. Excerpts
Prose more purple than Barbara Cartland is churned about her. And the epithets keep
flowing thicker than bricks. Diva, ivory tower queen, gorgeous icon, super actress.
At age 25, she felicitously straddled the world of Manmohan Desai and Shyam Benegal even before it became fashionable to be fashionably crossover.Three decades on, unarguably one of the finest actresses on the Indian screen, she's outlasted all the name calling and the epithets.
Bhanurekha meets Madonna. Metamorphosis meets reinvention. Her life has unfurled
like a gossipy prime-time soap opera. You've known what has happened. And the
future episodes? At age 50, she still keeps us hooked. Stay tuned...
Make-up ke peeche kya hai?
Sirf ek chehra hi nahin...Ek dil bhi hai, jo dimaag ke saath connected hai.
Didn't you say you were in love with Amitabh Bachchan on the Simi Garewal show?
Ha, so what else is new? The whole universe is in love with him, you included...clich, clich.
Hmm... After all these years of saying no to television, was the experience worth it? Wasn't Garewal trying to put you on the mat?
Was she? I think Simi was just being Simi. She was the privileged one to ask me any
question she pleases, but ultimately I believe it was my prerogative to answer to
the best of my abilities, using my discretion (I think) (Laughs). Anways, my fans
were busier reacting to my kanjeevaram saree, lipstick shades, bangles, hair
and mostly the twinkle in my eyes. God help me the day I need an interview to make myself
heard. The truth is that my hardcore fans seem to communicate and relate to my core even in my silences. And in any case, every opinion about me is a product of someone else's
perceptions. It's that what people don't read between the lines, which is the real
truth. The irony is that I've spent the last 20 years explaining why I didn't
do TV. Now, I'm not about to spend the next 20 years, justifying why I actually did
it. Anyways, the fact that you're still talking about it two months after it came on
means that I have done something right!
How come you never talk about your performances or acting on record?
Because I believe real ladies are meant to be seen, not heard. I can't go on
talking about my love for my craft or the technique of acting. (Smiles). Leave that
to my viewers. Having said that, acting is my first love. That's the only thing I
do best. Unfortunately, just when I'm discovering myself as an actor, the "real
actor" boom has deteriorated. In any case, I don't think acting is something words
can express. It's just a feeling...
Would you have loved to be a man? What attracts you about men?
No, I love being a woman. In fact, I've always believed that I'm every woman. I
think what attracts a woman to a man are his imperfections. He would be soooooo-not-
perfect if he were perfect. If only we could accept that there is no need to
understand the opposite sex in order to love and adore them. Men never grow up.
They will always remain boys. The sooner women realise that, the easier it will be
for them to live, love and celebrate men. And to answer your question what attracts
me to a man is his...GENUINENESS...which is a rare quality.
You don't want to ever get married?
Depends... on what you call true marriage. Woh baat jo lafzon mein ada ho jaaye, woh
baat hi kya. Marriage, like history, cannot be expressed in words. You have to
savour it, taste it, live it and the true fun is to relive it.
You cry easily?
Not necessarily... unless the moment touches me deeply. Of course, one is constantly
crying on the sets with good old glycerine. Though I must say that I shed tears of joy
when I watch Candid Camera . But people close to me would tell you that I'm an
expert at crying silently without shedding a single tear.
How come you are only identified as the "other woman" or the "courtesan" on
I think that again is a perception. In fact, I've played more roles as a wife, a
daughter and a bahu . Strangely people identify with my roles in Silsila, Muqaddar
Ka Sikandar or Umrao Jaan . But I've played the wife in Sadaa Suhaagan ,
Ijaazat, Maang Bharo Sajna and Judaai . Perhaps, people like to mix up the reel
image with the so-called off-screen image in their minds. Well, mind you Rekha's
Hello, why do you refer to yourself in the third person?
Duh... helloooo, don't you know royalty always refers to itself in the third person?
Ya right. Ha Ha. I'm just kidding. Well, I guess it's one of the reasons which makes
Rekha, "The Rekha".
Is it true that you are attracted to women?
For sure, I'm mostly attrcated to women. I have always loved and admired women. Look at Rajmata Gayatri Devi, my mother, Sophia Loren, Ingrid Bergman, Katherine Hepburn and Indira Gandhi – all such beautiful, spiritual and evolved women. Show me any man who matches up to them in terms of beauty, emotional strength and resilience.
It's said that you are the No 1 gay icon among actors? Apparently a lot of drag
queens dress up like you and dance to Umrao Jaan at drag parties?
Is that right? I take that as a compliment. I think gay men have a heightened sense
of beauty and aesthetics. Perhaps that's why they like women like Madonna, Cher and
now you say me. Perhaps they want to make themselves more appealing. They enhance
their features with make-up , costumes and use endearing gestures from Umrao Jaan to entice
What does it feel to be sexy at 50? A bit like Rasadevi in Kama Sutra?
Sexy? Whatever that means. I think it's trite, over-used and perhaps an over-rated
word. Sensuality is more like it. I am, therefore I'm sensual. True sensuality is
something that is inherent or innate. It cannot be acquired. It oozes out
constantly without ones realising it. A fan once said to me, "Sensuality, thy name
is Rekha." I thought that was sweet.
Is love over-rated too?
Yes, the word love is commonplace. The word " Ishq " which poets have penned
is "the" word. Ishq implies giving yourself away in love, never expecting anything
ever. Rekha is always in Ishq .
Who are you in love with now?
(Dramatic pause) I, me myself. I'm constantly having a romantic liaison with
myself. And it comes so involuntarily. Loving to me comes as inexorably as
breathing. This is what defines me. I'm brimming with love. If I don't bestow the
overflow, I believe the excess of love stored inside me will become toxic and
almost choke me.
What's the most romantic line of dialogue ever?
I hate you...the line from Silsila . You have to read between the lines. Life, like
that dialogue, is lived somewhere between the lines. In this case, actions do speak
louder than words.
So what's your most over-rated virtue?
And your most-under-rated virtue?
Him.... I mean God. Ha, ha, gotcha there.
What's the best compliment Mr Bachchan has ever paid you?
Distance...that I'm eternally grateful for. Because then one would never have had the
chance to explore heroine–oriented films. Living under the shadow of the supreme
one would have been relegated to doing insignificant roles. And you know what?
Ironically, distance is what kids today are constantly fighting for, demanding
their "space". Well, I was the chosen one. It was given to me on a platter...and
loads of it.
Hey, you're doing a film with Mallika Sherawat. Are you feeling okay?
Behave yourself. Woh bhi khuda ki bandi hai ...and a very successful one at that. I'm
looking forward to working with her.
What made you sign a film with Govind Menon of all people!
Like a role is a role, is a role...a director, is a director is the captain of the
ship. Period. Caste, creed, sex, age, no bar. Though talent I must confess should
be bar bar dekho .
What do you know for sure?
What I've always known for a very, very long time now is that God has given me the
strength to always be there for anyone who depends on me and needs me... unconditionally. I do also know, however, never to delude myself expecting anybody to be there for me, ever.
Your state of mind now? Please don't say Yeh kahaan aa gaye hum...
Hmmm. Here goes, I looked my love in the eyes and allowed HIM to lead the dance. We
danced...and danced...and danced. I was entranced, LOST or completely found? I had
never felt such a sense of belonging as I did when I danced with...the LORD. My
maker, my creator, my beginning, my middle and my end. What a lover he is...