Rekha’s a superstar, the diva of Bollywood, and the queen of style. Yet, throughout her career, actors, directors and other Bollywood celebrities have said the vilest of things about her — calling her names that, if uttered today, would lead to public shaming and a huge Twitter row.
Despite all this, Rekha carried on: bringing hit after hit, and letting her work do all the talk. Here are the five vilest things Bollywood celebrities said about her:
1. Navin Nishchol, the old sweetheart from Khosla ka Ghosla, told the producer on the sets of Sawan Bhaadon, ‘From where did you pick out this namoona, itni kaali-kalooti.‘
2. The film industry singled out Rekha and maligned her, not her partners, for their supposed relationships. Derogatory phrases like “man eater”, “nymphomaniac” and “sex-kitten” were regularly used to refer to her. Dimple Kapadia said, “Stay away from my husband“.
3. Subhash Ghai, maker of classics such as Kisna, Kanchi: ‘The Unbreakable’ & Yuvraaj, had this to say about Rekha: ‘Rekha has put such a blot on the face of the film industry… No conscientious director will work with her ever again.’
Unfortunately for Ghai, Rekha went on to win the Filmfare Award for Best Actress twice (Khoobsurat & Khoon Bhari Maang), once for Supporting Actress (Khiladiyon ka Khiladi) and a National Award for Umrao Jaan, the eternal classic. Take that, ex-showman!
4. Rekha was relatively dark-skinned and had a 33-inch waist, for which people ridiculed her. Actor Raaj Kumar, whose Tiranga is a lesson in political correctness, told Rekha’s first producer Kuljeet Pal: “You’re from Africa. no wonder you like black girls.”
5. After her husband Mukesh’s suicide, the press at the time blamed Rekha for Mukesh’s death. It was widely said that Mukesh had hanged himself using Rekha’s dupatta, and this unconfirmed fact was used to somehow implicate her. Headlines ranged from “How Rekha drove Mukesh to attempt suicide” (in Stardust) and “The black widow” (in Showtime) to “The macabre truth behind Mukesh’s suicide” (Cine Blitz). Imagine if someone had said these things about one of the top actresses right now — there would be a shit-storm of mammoth proportions on Twitter, shouting matches on TV channels, and even protests on the roads. But no one gave a damn at the time! Here’s to you Rekha: superstar, queen of Bollywood and the eternal diva!
Get Rekha: The Untold Story by Yasser Usman here for the true story.