By Monisha G Kumar Last Updated:
There is a magical vibe connected to love, it makes you go to any extent for the one you love. As they say, everything is fair in love and war and for some love is war. In some people's life, destiny plays a vital role in the matters of heart. They find love but can’t consume it forever. Their love life remains a mystery to many. The Golden girl of 70s and 80s, Rekha is one such diva, whose love life is still a mystery to many. From her much-talked-about affair with Amitabh Bachchan to her mysterious wedding with Mukesh Agarwal, Rekha’s life has always been a source of gossip in the industry grapevine. Here are some excerpts from the book, Rekha: The Untold Story written by author and award-winning journalist, Yaseer Usman.
Born as Bhanurekha, she had started her career in 1958 and despite some successful films, Rekha has gotten recognition as an actress in mid-to-late 70s. Daughter of renowned actor, Gemini Ganesan and actress, Pushpavalli, Rekha never got her father’s surname as her father never acknowledged her as his daughter. Due to financial constraints, Rekha had to quit her studies and had started her career in acting at the age of 13. More than her professional life, her personal life has garnered much attention. Her rumoured link up to Amitabh Bachchan is still one of the controversial affairs of Bollywood. With a broken heart, Rekha still hoped to find someone, who would love and appreciate her and would give a name to their relationship. And then she met Mukesh Agarwal.
Mukesh Agarwal was born into a middle-class Bania family. He abandoned his studies at the age of 13 and did many odd jobs but it was in the late 1970s when he had started his own business that manufactured kitchenware under the brand name Hotline. Mukesh’s business flourished and his brand Hotline was in news for its immense success. Apart from making money, Mukesh always wanted to be a part of the elite circles of Delhi. He would do anything to get into the prominence of the big shots of the glamour world.
He would throw large parties and would invite every celebrity who was in town. According to Mukhesh’s friend, Neeraj Kumar, a retired IPS officer, who had also served as the Delhi’s commissioner of Police, Mukesh was a nice man but he had a complex. He wanted to be known, he wanted the world to know that he was the next big thing. He never liked keeping a low profile and would do anything to catch a celebrity’s attention. Talking about Mukesh’s extravagant lifestyle, Neeraj stated: “He bought a horse and he had a farmhouse in Mehrauli. When he was expecting a guest, he would mount the horse and sit there waiting!”
Rekha was a frequent visitor in Delhi as she would often come and meet her good friend, the famous fashion designer and socialite, Bina Ramani. In one such meeting, Rekha had expressed her desire to settle down and have a family life, all she wanted was a man, who would love her, marry her and would give her a surname. It was Bina Ramani, who introduced Rekha to Mukesh Agarwal. Bina had called Rekha and told her about her ‘crazy fan’, who was a well-known businessman. When Bina asked Rekha whether she should give her number to Mukesh, Rekha told her not to, instead she took his number.
Initially, Rekha was not too keen calling Mukesh but after Bina forced her, she had initiated the first step and called Mukesh. Although their first conversation was quite formal, it is said that Mukesh was completely smitten by Rekha’s husky voice and couldn’t believe that the superstar worshipped by many and the ruler of millions of hearts had called him. After the first phone call, a series of calls followed between the two. Within one month of their first phone call, the two had met for the first time in Bombay. From the fake and pretence of the glamour world, Mukesh’s honesty and simplicity impressed her. And on the other hand, the star-struck Mukesh was head-over-heels in love with the diva. From showering complements and flattering her in every way, Mukesh did everything to woo her.
After their first meeting in Bombay, Mukesh convinced her to visit Delhi and when she did, she became the centre of attention of his farmhouse in Chhatarpur. She was bowled by the respect and attention she got in Delhi and a comfortable bond had developed between the two. He was obsessed with her diva tag and she was impressed with his devotion towards her. Rekha had once recalled that she had only met him twice and really liked his family when she had met them in Delhi. Mukesh was a good friend of actress, Deepti Naval and couldn’t stop talking and praising about Rekha. According to Deepti, Mukesh and Rekha never bothered about each other’s past and were madly in love with each other. She also stated: “After he spoke to Rekha on the phone and the two met in Bombay and again in Delhi, Mukesh couldn’t stop talking about her. He used to gush about her… I thought he was totally bonkers over her.”
It was a Sunday, March 4, 1990, barely a month when Mukesh had met Rekha for the first time. Restless, he visited Rekha at her residence in Bombay and proposed her for marriage. Rekha said yes to his proposal, Mukesh beamed with joy and excitement had told Rekha, ‘Let’s get married right away!’ Neither of their families were present at the moment and still within hours of his proposal, the two had decided to get married the same day. Rekha was excited as she was finally getting married, was finally going to have a surname.
At the evening, she had worn her favourite red and gold Kanjeevaram saree with traditional jewellery. Mukesh, Rekha and her best friend, Surinder went out in search of a temple in Juhu. They stopped at Iskon temple which was very crowded. However, in front of Iskon, there was another temple, Mukteshwar Devalaya. Mukesh told the priest that he wanted to get married immediately. The confused priest looked at Rekha and was surprised to see such a big star getting married in a hush-hush state.
Although temples are not allowed to be opened after the evening aarti and priests are not allowed to do any wedding rituals, for Rekha and Mukesh, all the rules were broken. (The priest was later banned from the temple.) Rekha, born out of wedlock suddenly got something which she always craved for, a legitimate surname. She became Rekha Agarwal. After having a hush-hush wedding, On April 15, 1990, Rekha and Mukesh had another wedding at Tirupati Temple with all the rituals in the presence of her mother Pushpavalli. It became an important event as it was also attended by her father, Gemini Ganesan, who never addressed her as his daughter.
After their wedding, a star-struck Mukesh suggested Rekha that they should visit some celebrity friends of hers and Rekha zeroed on Hema Malini. As she visited Hema Malini’s house with her hubby, Mukesh Agarwal, Hema ji was surprised to know that Rekha had tied the knot and had even asked her whether he was rich. The second person, Rekha informed about her wedding was actress, Deepti Naval. Rekha called Deepti and informed her that she was her bhabhi now as she had tied the knot with Mukesh Agarwal, who was just like a brother to Deepti.
After their marriage, Mukesh and Rekha went to London for their honeymoon. Their initial days were blissful and it was the first time the two had spent such a long time with each other. But within a week, Rekha got to know that they were two different people and she also felt something was troubling Mukesh. And after more than a week in London, one day, Mukesh slyly told Rekha that like her even he has an AB in his life.
Just like Rekha had a past which includes 'AB' i.e. Amitabh Bachchan, her husband, Mukesh also had a past with his 'AB'. The 'AB' in Mukesh's life was his psychiatrist, Akash Bajaj, a divorcee with two children. Before meeting Rekha, Mukesh was said to be in a relationship with this lady and he used to love her children a lot. In fact, they used to go for holidays also, just like any other normal family. But when he met Rekha and decided to propose her to be his wife, he didn't care to inform about such an important decision to his 'good friend', Akash Bajaj.
Mukesh and Rekha had started their new life and she would travel to Delhi on weekends to spend time with Mukesh. Rekha loved her new life, away from the glitz and glamour, her marriage to Mukesh was a refreshing change for her. But the charm of their marriage didn’t last long as the two were completely opposite to each other. While Mukesh loved lavish and glamorous parties, Rekha wanted to stay away from it and spend alone time with him. Over her weekend trips, Rekha would be surrounded with parties hosted by Mukesh and her desperate attempt to spend some alone time with him would go in vain. After some time, she felt like a trophy wife.
In 1990, there was a worldwide financial crisis and Mukesh too was undergoing losses in his business and when Rekha got to know about it, she was quite disturbed. Cracks had already begun to appear in their relationship and Rekha’s visit to Delhi became infrequent. Upset with Rekha’s absence, Mukesh got paranoid and wanted her to stop working in films. When she had cut down on her Delhi visits, Mukesh began spending time in Bombay. Rather than focussing on his falling business, he was seen loitering around her shoot’s and Bollywood parties.
Mukesh’s behaviour was becoming embarrassing for Rekha. She always boasted about her marital status but the truth was completely different. Mukesh was on heavy medications for acute depression and Rekha was unaware of it. Rekha wanted to get away from Mukesh as she could not fathom her lifeless marriage. She decided to distance herself from Mukesh and his family and even stopped taking Mukesh’s calls. After several attempts, Mukesh couldn’t reach Rekha and bring her back. Mukesh was in acute depression and on September 10, 1990, he called Rekha and the two agreed to get divorced by mutual consent.
On October 2, 1990, Mukesh could not take further, decided to take away his life. He had hanged himself to the ceiling fan of his room, using his wife's dupatta. Their marriage had lasted for only seven months! After Mukesh’s death, Rekha was projected as a ‘vamp’ and was blamed for Mukesh’s suicide. She was hated by people all around. Rekha always wanted to settle down, she wanted to get married and have kids. She had once told Neeraj Kumar, ex-commissioner of Delhi Police and a good friend of Mukesh that she was ready to leave her stardom for normal family life. But it seems, destiny had something else in store for Rekha.
Rekha had been linked to many Bollywood stars but all she craved was true love and a sense of belonging. Her desire to have a normal life lead her to meet Mukesh Agarwal. After her marriage to Mukesh, she got the one thing she always craved for, a surname, but the vacuum was still there. After dealing with so much, her zeal towards life is commendable. Nothing can tame her, she is still the ruling queen of Bollywood.
Dil cheez kya hai aap meri jaan lijiye, bas ek baar mera kaha maan lijiye… This is not a biography. This is a story of a woman with multiple linkups but none beside her at the age of 66. A story of two failed marriages and a multitude of criticisms.Read More