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From a forced kiss to a sindoor stunt: Here are 3 things you didn't know about Rekha

In a new book about the actress, author Yasser Usman shows a new side of the evergreen Bollywood diva.

TNN|
Sep 04, 2016, 11.54 AM IST
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In a new book about the actress, author Yasser Usman shows a new side of the evergreen Bollywood diva.
In a new book about the actress, author Yasser Usman shows a new side of the evergreen Bollywood diva.
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.

Chappals for the new bride
After getting married in Calcutta, Vinod and Rekha returned to Bombay, and drove straight to Nibbana from the airport. But a storm was waiting to assail them there. Here's what happened that day at the Mehra residence according to a film-maker: As soon as the new bride bent to touch her mother in-law's feet, Kamla Mehra angrily pushed her away . She refused to let Rekha enter her house. She lost her cool and abused and humiliated Rekha, who was standing at the front door. Vinod tried to intervene but Kamla was livid, so angry that at one point she took off her chappal and almost beat up Rekha with it. The poor girl was numb and confused. A crowd started to gather around the flat, and Rekha, stunned, hurt and shook up, started to run towards the lift, her eyes burning with tears. Vinod followed and told her to stay at her house till his mother calmed down.

Drama at Rishi-Neetu shaadi
22 January , 1980. The occasion was Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh's wedding. Neetu was a close friend of Rekha's. The whole of R K Studio was grandly bedecked. The biggest names of the industry were in attendance, including Amitabh Bachchan, his wife, Jaya, and his parents.The party was in full flow. Amitabh was talking to Manmohan Desai in a corner and Jaya was sitting with her mother-in-law, Teji Bachchan, when Rekha made a sensational entry . Dressed in a magnificent white sari, Rekha had a bright red bindi on her forehead. But what caught everyone's eye was the generous dabbing of sindoor in her hair.

The cameras instantly pivoted away from Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh, and frenetically photographed Rekha's curious new look. The dull drone of everyone murmuring and whispering filled the evening air; everyone wanted to know: had Rekha married?

According to the Cine Blitz report, after congratulating Rishi and Neetu, Rekha went and stood bang in the middle of R K Studio's garden. When had she ever shied away from attention, or controversy? But her eyes kept darting towards Amitabh every other second.

Gathering courage, Rekha took hold of her close friend Snehlata Pandey, the doctor who is credited with introducing Rekha to aerobics and better diets, and went over to where Amitabh was standing. All eyes, quite naturally, followed te naturally , followed her. They were seen chatting formally for a few minutes. According to a report in Stardust, 'Jaya tried to keep a stoic front for a long time, but eventually she had to bend her head and let the tears roll down.' A few moments later, Rekha exited the party, leaving be hind a trail of unanswered questions. In a somewhat anticlimactic interview, Rekha later cleared the air: that evening, she had come to the reception straight from a shoot. The sindoor and mangalsutra she was wearing were part of her get-up for a film, which she had forgotten to remove.

But according to a report published in Movie in June 1982, at a National Awards function, Rekha, who was being honoured with the award for best actress for Umrao Jaan (1981), was asked by then president Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, 'Why do you have sindoor in your maang?' Rekha promptly replied into the mike, 'In the city I come from, it's fashionable to wear sindoor.'

Edited excerpts from Rekha: The Untold Story with permission from Juggernaut Books
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