The roles have stopped. But Rekha’s beauty even at 68, is undeniable. Such beauty can only mean a life well lived.
Rekha could have been one of the greats of Hindi cinema, and she probably is. But her bewitching beauty and searing talent never attained the excellence that they were meant to. Some of her best performances, for example in Jabbar Patel’s Musafir, Shashi Kapoor’s Utsav, Shyam Benegal’s Kalyug were ignored, whereas her hyped performances in Ghar, Khubsoorat (where she spent close to three hours mimicking Amitabh Bachchan) and Umrao Jaan were all about sighing and mumbling her lines. Rekha herself admitted she sleepwalked through Umrao Jaan.
The roles have stopped. But her beauty even at 68, is undeniable. Such beauty can only mean a life well lived. Rekha told me doesn’t give that much importance to physical beauty. That her looks are only a small part of her personality. According to Rekha, no amount of expensive saris, diamonds and makeup can make a woman look beautiful unless she is at peace from within. In her case, they sure seem to do the trick.
She admitted once to me that a lot of injustice was done to her life. But she didn’t wallow in self pity and let the injustice affect her in a negative way.
“Every day I go through the bad and the good. There’s an angel and devil within me. It’s up to us to choose who rules our lives. We all have a choice in life. We can make something positive happen in every situation. That’s the key to my life. I’m always asked why I’m so calm all the time, is it a façade? I agree I’m a great actor on screen. But no one can live a lifetime of lies. I don’t believe in living a lie. But I know a lot of people think I live a lie. If that’s how they feel about me, so be it,” she once told me.
The image of the recluse doesn’t please her. It isn’t as though Rekha doesn’t want to reach out to people. She claims to be a normal healthy woman, with normal healthy appetites. But to her, reaching out to people, making demands over their time and attention is an encroachment. She would rather connect once in while. Among the film folk she is regularly in touch with nowadays is Alia Bhatt her favourite among the new breed of actresses. Hrithik Roshan and Shah Rukh Khan are the others who have the privilege of hearing from Rekha once in a while.
Rekha doesn’t take criticism to her heart. Her mother, the renowned Tamil actress Savithri, taught her to take everything in life from ageing to criticism with humility.
Rekha once said to me, “You’ve to have the confidence to carry your age without feeling self-conscious. I’m proud even of that wrinkle which appears on my face. It’s a symbol of all that life has taught me for years. Ageing is so inevitable. All the choices I’ve made, all the people I’ve met, all the hurt and all the happiness… they’ve all carved every contour on my face. And I’m proud of them all.”
As an actor, she is proud to have connected with women with some of her performances. The iconic actress feels she has made a connectivity with women at the grassroots with her presence and performances in K C Boakadia’s Phool Bane Angaaray, Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khubsoorat, Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan, Basu Bhattacharya’s Astha.
Astha became mired in a lot of controversies because of its volatile theme of a housewife moonlighting as a sex worker to buy herself the good things in life.
She is known to have a bleeding empathetic heart for people around her whom she comes in contact with. “I believe in being true to myself. I believe in being true to my work. I can’t cheat on my performances. For me, my films are like my babies. I nurture them and look after them like a mother. I can’t play truant from shooting even for a day. When I agree to do a film I am with it all the way.”
Now that the offers have dried up Rekha spends time gardening, sketching and singing. She connects once in a while with her sister Radha who lives in the US.
Fifty-two years in the film industry and Rekha is still iconized by generations of new actresses. Rekha once not so modestly said to me, “I don’t know what they see in me. Maybe I am the last of a certain group of actresses. I had so many actresses including Meena Kumari to look up to. Maybe the new generation of actresses have only poor little me to look up to.”
Fans crib about seeing so little of Rekha on screen. Filmmakers find it difficult to connect with her. She laughed off that line of thought saying, “That excuse is not valid. I am right here and very open to acting offers. But I am happy with my life. I am doing exactly what I want to do. I hold no grudges against anyone. I always try to understand the mind of those whom I connect with. That makes life so much simpler. There are so many natural calamities overtaking the world. Why create your own private Tsunami?”
Some day she plans to tell her own story. She has been writing down her thoughts.
The legendary actress is still a mystery to her admirers.“It’s not cultivated. I am constantly getting to know myself.Maybe when I have as many wrinkles on my face as Mother Teresa I’ll reach a point of actual self-awareness.
Wrinkles and Rekha are far removed from one another.“Ah you will be surprised by what good makeup and the correct camera angles can conceal,” she quipped.
Love is no more an aspiration for Rekha.“I’m not so naïve as to believe in love anymore. It’s delusional to expect love from others. When you’ve so much of it within you why would you want it from anyone? I’m not someone who chases illusions. I wake up every morning and smell the coffee. I don’t believe in getting love, I only believe in giving love. Because I’m love personified. I expect nothing from anyone else. I only have expectations from myself. I’ve huge huge dreams and aspirations for myself.”
So do we. Where is that one iconic career-defining role?
News Source : First Post