The rumoured affair between Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha has held the country captive for many decades now.
The evergreen diva of Hindi cinema, Rekha, turns 63 today. She has worked her charm on the entire country, thanks to her numerous films, both critically and commercially successful.
But if there is one facet of Rekha’s life that has been shrouded in mystery since the day people saw her with Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan in Silsila, it is her rumoured affair with Amitabh Bachchan.
Back in the late-seventies, these stars had gossip columns overflowing with rumours of their affair.
On Rekha’s 63rd birthday, today, we take a look at the love story that no one quite knows the truth about.
1. Rekha has gone on the record to profess her love for Amitabh time and again. On their part, the Bachchans, Amitabh and Jaya, have mostly maintained a stoic silence on the matter for decades now.
2. Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha were seen together on the big screen for the first time in Do Anjaane.
3. Filmmaker Yash Chopra was the one who pulled off a casting coup of sorts for his film Silsila, thereby adding a lot of fuel to the fire. The film went on to almost symbolise what was supposedly happening in Amitabh, his wife Jaya Bachchan and Rekha’s lives back then.
4. In a by-now famous episode of Rendezvous With Simi Garewal, the host asked Rekha several questions about Amitabh. Later, Simi opened up on how she asked Rekha questions about Amitabh. Simi said, “It was easy asking her the question about Amitabh. If I can ask Jayalalitha if she was ever loved MGR, asking Rekha about Amitabh was much easier. A lot of people ask me how I got her to open up. I didn’t know if I did anything special. I don’t want to analyse it. I just chatted as good friends. Rekha and I go back a long way.”
5. Rekha spoke about her experience of working with Amitabh, on the same episode. When Simi asked Rekha what as an actor Amitabh brought to Rekha’s life, she answered, “Well, I think I had arrived, so to say. In many ways, I’m senior to him. But, standing in front of Amitabh Bachchan, the ultimate actor, was not easy.”
6. Rekha went on to talk about working with Bachchan in Do Anjaane, “The moment I came to know that Amitji had signed Do Anjaane, I was so paranoid. Because Deewar had just released. He was a phenomenal success. I knew him as Didibhai’s (Jaya Bachchan) husband. First of course, boyfriend, and then husband. I never knew him otherwise, because we never got a chance to sit and talk. When I started working with him, I was so nervous… I really, really learnt a lot. It changed my perception of what being on the set is like. It was never a playground for me again.”
7. Amitabh was like something she had ‘never seen before’, said Rekha on the show. “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,” the actor said.
8. Rekha said she was baffled by how one person could have so many good qualities. She gushed, “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.”
9. Then came the million-dollar question that nearly everyone in the country had been waiting to ask Rekha and Amitabh. Simi Garewal stepped in for everyone else and asked it on behalf of them: Did Rekha fall in love with Amitabh? Her oft-quoted answer to that question was, “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?”
10. Rekha then went on to say, “You want to know the truth? There was never a personal connection with him. That’s the truth. What do I deny? I’m not in love with him? Of course I am. Duniya bhar ka love aap le lijiyega and add some more – I feel that for that person. Bottomline.”
That ‘bottomline’ is what has dominated drawing-room discussions for many decades now. The truth, however, is something only Rekha and Amitabh are aware of.