The “Other Woman” Is Ten-Up Because the Man Wants Her in Spite of Having a Wife: Rekha
Rekha's name brings two words to our minds - ageless and controversial. From an alleged affair with Amitabh Bachchan to her husband Mukesh Aggarwal's suicide, Rekha's personal life was all over newspapers and magazine in the 80s and the 90s. Now, in a biography, titled Rekha: The Untold Story by Yasser Usman, published by Juggernaut Books, the actor has opened up about a host of issues. Excerpts from the book:
On her on-screen kiss
"The shooting of Anjana Safar was underway in Bombay's Mahboob Studio. Raja Nawathe was the director and cinematographer of the film. In the very first schedule of the film, Kuljeet Pal (the director), Raja and Biswajeet (the lead actor) had hatched a plan, with Rekha as the unsuspecting victim. That day a romantic scene was to be filmed between Rekha and Biswajeet. Every last detail of the strategy had been decided before the shoot. As soon as the director Raj Nawathe said 'action', Biswajeet took Rekha in his arms and pressed his lips on hers. Rekha was stunned. This kiss had never been mentioned to her. The camera kept rolling; neither was the director ordering 'cut' nor was Biswajeet letting go of her. For all of five minutes, Biswajeet kept kissing Rekha. Unit members were whistling and cheering. Her eyes were tightly shut but they were full of tears."
"Recalling the day, Biswajeet referred to the incident as Raja Nawathe's idea. Raja had insisted that he kiss Rekha, not yet fifteen, catching her by surprise. Biswajeet maintained that it was not his fault, that he was merely working on the director's instructions. "It was not for my enjoyment, but important for the film. Rekha felt betrayed and was furious," admitted Biswajeet."
On her marriage to Mukesh Aggarwal
"The initial days in London were beautiful. That was the first time that Rekha and Mukesh had spent so much time together. But it took only a week for Rekha to realise that they were very different people. She was also shocked to see Mukesh taking several pills a day. Still, she thought, now that they had to spend the rest of their lives together, such matters would have to be overlooked. 'I've to make [a] success of it,' she told herself. 'Can Rekha fail in anything she attempts?' They had been in London for more than a week. Rekha could see that something was troubling Mukesh. And then, one day, a gloomy Mukesh looked deep into her eyes and said, 'There's an AB in my life too.'"
"Three months into the marriage, the magnitude of her folly dawned on Rekha. She took a step back from the all-consuming relationship, and bought some time to think things through. But when making sense of the situation proved to be too difficult, she started distancing herself from Mukesh and his family. She stopped taking his phone calls. For a depressed Mukesh, this came as a huge blow. Reports of chinks in their relationship found their way into various publications, with headlines like 'Rekha Exposed' and 'The Shocking Past of Rekha's Husband'."
"Climbing on top of his bed, he tied one end of the dupatta to the ceiling fan, pulled the noose around his neck and hanged himself."
On Amitabh Bachchan
"In an sensational interview published in Stardust in 1978 – ‘Rekha: Girl without a Conscience?’ – Rekha claimed, ‘Once I was looking at the whole [Bachchan] family through the projection room when they came to see the trial show of Muqaddar Ka Sikandar. Jaya was sitting in the front row and he and his parents were in the row behind her. They couldn’t see her as clearly as I could. And during our love scenes, I could see tears pouring down her face.’ It is believed that Jaya put a ban on Amitabh working with Rekha after Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, and word got around fast that Amitabh had been given an ultimatum by his wife. Discussing this, Rekha said, ‘A week later [after the trial show of Muqaddar Ka Sikandar], everybody in the industry was telling me that he has made it clear to his producers that he was not going to work with me. Everybody else informed me about it but he didn’t say a word on the subject. When I tried to question him about it, he said, “I am not going to say a word. Don’t ask me about it”.’
"In the same interview, Rekha revealed another shocking detail: she claimed that Amitabh had gifted her two rings that she always wore. When Amitabh refused to work with her, she returned the rings and decided to part ways with him. In her own words, ‘Naturally I was upset and we broke off after that. I was working in Khoobsurat at that time and I put my heart and soul into my role. You will notice that in the last half of the film I am not wearing my two rings. They have been given to me by him and I never remove them even when I am sleeping. But during those days when we had parted, I sent them back to him.’"
"Rekha claimed that she was deeply hurt by Amitabh’s decision not to work with her but it was Jaya who ended up becoming the target of her tirades. She melodramatically emphasized that her pain was somehow far greater than Jaya’s. ‘At an award function some time ago, I’d recited a few lines. Everyone imagined they were meant for him. But actually, it was for her,’ said Rekha. Rekha recited the lines in the interview: ‘I looked at you, you turned your face away. Why? You feel you are badly off, but can’t you see my position is worse? There is deep hurt in your gaze, but can’t you see that the wounds in my heart are deeper than your look?’"
"Rekha, bold and direct, dropped all veils of secrecy. Whether she was telling the truth is difficult to determine, but her statements often caused an uproar at that time. She was seen as launching a head-on assault on the clean image of the Bachchans. Calling herself the ‘other woman’ for the first time, Rekha said, ‘People say the wife is always one-up because she has the man. I say the “other woman” is ten-up because the man wants her in spite of having a wife. It is not a question of what does Jaya have that I don’t have. What does Jaya have that I have?’"
Rekha: The Untold Story by Yasser Usman is available on the Juggernaut app and in bookstores.
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