By Anindita Mukherjee Last Updated:
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 67. A story of two failed marriages and a multitude of criticisms. We are talking about the beautiful Rekha, who had to fight innumerous tempests in her life to be where she is today. The actress even has a biography on her named, Rekha: The Untold Story, by author Yasser Usman.
When we talk about Rekha, these questions probably comes to your mind. Did she actually marry Amitabh Bachchan? No? Then what is the sindoor for? Doesn’t she feel lonely given that she is not legally married to anyone and does not have children? When you see her and her contemporaries, you will notice a vast difference in the lives they are leading. Through this article, let’s step into Rekha’s shoes and set on a journey where you will be more acquainted with the person she is today and the men, who came in her life.
She had barely learnt to fly when something terrible happened to her on the sets of Anjana Safar at the Mehboob Studio. As mentioned in the book, Rekha: The Untold Story, they were supposed to shoot a romantic scene for the movie. Her co-star, Biswajeet Chatterjee, grabbed a teen Rekha from her back and pressed his lips against hers without even Rekha having the time to react on it. While the director did not yell “cut” for almost five minutes and crew members kept whistling and mocking at the scene, a humiliated Rekha had kept her eyes close but was full of tears.
One of the first prominent affairs of Rekha in Bollywood was with the superstar Jeetendra. Jeetendra was known for his casual flirting with his female co-stars. Both Rekha and Jeetendra had done innumerous films with each other. It is said that Rekha was quite serious about him but the superstar was already married to Shobha Kapoor when he had met Rekha. When rumours about their alleged dating started doing rounds, Rekha was termed as a 'home-breaker' by many. Thus, their relationship died a bitter death.
This was a short fling for Rekha. Kiran Kumar is the son of famous villain Jeevan, who ruled the industry from 50s-80s. Kiran was also Vinod Mehra’s best friend, whom she had fallen for later. Their relationship went on for a small time before they decided to call it quits.
One of the best and prominent relationships of Rekha was with Vinod Mehra. The actress was swept off by Vinod’s charm and vice-versa. The duo got married at a secret wedding ceremony but it did not last long. As per an excerpt that appeared in the TOI, a filmmaker had revealed the harsh treatment that Rekha got from Vinod’s mother, Kamal Mehra, when he took her to the then Calcutta, to introduce his new bride. He further said that Vinod’s mother pushed Rekha away and almost took off her sandals to hit her, when a weeping Rekha rushed towards the lift. Hubby Vinod followed her and requested her to calm down and come inside the house till the situation was sorted. Rekha however, had denied having any marital relationships with Vinod Mehra in an interview with Simi Garewal in 2004.
Rekha’s affair with Amitabh Bachchan is the most talked about romantic relationship that has ever brewed in Bollywood. The Khoon Bhari Maang actress has time and again indirectly professed her love for the Shahenshah of Bollywood. Rekha and Amitabh first appeared on the big screen with the movie, Do Anjaane. Then they appeared in Yash Chopra’s superhit, Silsila. When asked about the same in an interview, she said "I was never impressed by the ordinary. And he was like something I had never seen before. I have never seen him, ever, express pain”.
Rekha was extremely impressed to have met a person with so much of talent. She shared,
“Personally, I think you can say... when you're fascinated by something, subconsciously, even without realising it, you just pick up everything. And when I found this person, and I had never met anyone like him... He is a fellow Libran. How can so many good qualities be bestowed upon one human being? Not fair."
And then Simi Garewal asked a question on behalf of the entire world. Did Rekha love Amitabh? And then came her often-quoted reply,
"Absolutely! Duh, that's a dumb question!" And then went on to generalise that statement, "I'm yet to come across a man, woman, child, who can't help but fall completely, passionately, insanely, desperately and especially, hopelessly, in love with him. So why should I be singled out?"
Apparently, after their dating and ‘secret marriage’ rumours, Jaya Bachchan had put a ban on Amitabh further sharing the screen space with Rekha. When asked about how she felt upon hearing this, Rekha shared,
“A week later [after the trial show of Muqaddar Ka Sikandar], everybody in the industry was telling me that he [Amitabh] 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’.”
Another head-turning event happened at Neetu Singh and Rishi Kapoor’s marriage on January 22, 1980 where most of the stars of the B-town, including Amitabh-Jaya and Rekha were present. Rekha suddenly made a 'sensational entry' when she entered the venue wearing a white saree and sindoor on her maang. Immediately whispers started doing rounds at the entire wedding venue. The cameras quietly rolled away from Rishi-Neetu to sindoor-bhari maang, Rekha.
Also, at an awards function in 1982, Rekha was awarded for her phenomenal performance for Umrao Jaan. When asked about the reason behind the stroke of sacred vermilion on her forehead, the actress famously replied "In the city I come from, it's fashionable to wear sindoor".
Moving on from Amitabh Bachchan or probably in an attempt to move on from Big-B, Rekha married Delhi-based business tycoon, Mukesh Agarwal. According to the book, Rekha: The Untold Story, Mukesh was suffering from acute chronic depression and was not at all happy with Rekha’s acting career. To add to that, was their post-divorce trauma. All this led to Mukesh Agarwal’s suicide.
As per reports, it was Rekha who made the first attempt to call Mukesh and he was already smitten by her beauty. Their frequent meeting sparked love between both and they decided to tie the knot within one month of knowing each other. Soon after, Mukesh’s business started seeing downfall and he used to hang around on the sets of Rekha for no reason which largely embarrassed her. On October 2, 1990, Mukesh breathed his last by hanging himself from a ceiling fan.
Post this trauma, Rekha was named as a ‘witch-hunter’, ‘black widow’, ‘man-eater’ amongst many others. She was hated by people all around. Mukesh’s brother, Anil Gupta had once 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?"
When Rekha went on her honeymoon with Mukesh, he had taunted her by saying something nasty. He said to her "I also have an AB in my life" [about his relationship with his therapist, Akash Bajaj].
Soon, Rekha started realising that their marriage would not work out and that he was clinically depressed. But, she had once told Neeraj Kumar, ex-commissioner of Delhi Police, that life as a married woman was the kind of life she had always wanted. She said, "I am ready to leave my entire stardom”.
And told magazines, "Now I am Rekha Aggarwal." Not only people but stars also got back at her when they heard about Mukesh’s death. Director-producer Subhash Ghai had 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." And further went on to say, “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, too, who had starred with Rekha in many of her films, commented on the issue and 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."
Years later, in the 80s, Rekha’s rumoured affair with Sanjay Dutt emerged. The duo denied the possibility of any such relationship. It was also said that Rekha applies sindoor for Sanjay Dutt. However, Yasser Usman, reported in his book, Rekha: The Untold Story, “Rekha and Sanjay Dutt were working in a film together, probably Zameen Aasmaan (1984). The rumours of their affair surfaced at that time. In fact, some went on to say that they got married. These rumours became so strong that Sanjay Dutt had to deny the allegations in a magazine. It was an official denial."
In 1996, the then reigning heart-throb of Bollywood (still is), Akshay Kumar was working on a movie, Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi, co-starring with Rekha. Stories of Akshay and Rekha getting close to each other spread on a spree. Akshay was already linked with many women at that time and then came the rumours of him being ‘extra-nice’ with Rekha and the latter too, reciprocated. Akshay was dating Raveena back then and this did not go down well with her. Apparently, Raveena had to intervene to ‘draw a line’ between the duo. In an interview with Cine Blitz back then, Raveena had shared, “If this actress knows that we are together yet gets too close to Akshay, I will get my claws into her. But Akshay knows how to handle the situation I guess.”
But as per Raveena, Akshay was at no fault. In yet another interview with Rediff, she had shared during the same days,
“I don't think Akshay ever had anything to do with Rekha. As a matter of fact, he would run away from her. Akshay tolerated Rekha because of the film. At one point she wanted to get lunch dabbas for him from home. That's when I put my foot down. I felt it was taking things a bit too far.”
Rekha was linked with many others, apart from the men listed out here, but they were just casual flings or no flings at all. And no matter what, we are extremely proud of such a brave heart. Aren’t we? As we come to the end of the article, I have a question; do you have more clarity on the superstar Rekha’s enigmatic life? Are there any other interesting facts that you know about her? Do let us know in the comments section below.