How does one slot Rekha? She is one of a kind, who has consistently defied definition! It’s impossible to relate her to a stereotypical profile.
Rekha’s greatest asset has been her yen for challenges. They called her ‘crass’ in the beginning. Too ‘plump’ and whatever to make it in a milieu dominated by the likes of Hema Malini and Zeenat Aman. She just giggled, said nothing. By the end of the ‘70s she had risen to be the ultimate style icon for a whole generation of young women. They adored her. And she commanded a fee more than the Number One heroine of the time!
Rekha’s metamorphosis is the stuff miracles are made of. As a topnotch glamour photographer once told me, “She knows everything there is to know about camera angles, colours, lights and compositions.” She would insist on him placing a huge mirror behind him so that she could keep abreast of the compositions in relation to what is already filed in her mind. She never gets photographed before 2 pm. Because “when you wake up in the morning your face tends to be a bit puffy. It takes some time to settle down to normalcy, till bout 12 noon.”
She knew much more. In the late ‘70s she’d often fly off to Paris or some such destination to take a quick look at the latest in vogue. To be ever in vogue. No wonder she makes heads turn, pulses race and minds spin out erotic fantasies even today as a young actor vouched for.
Though she had moved out of the race for numbers long ago, but hasn’t let go of the iconic stature, Father Time notwithstanding. She doesn’t have to. Because she once said, “I am Gods chosen one?” She just might be, who knows.
The hyperbole apart, Rekha is not a great actress by any standards. But a very intelligent one. Give her a well-etched character and the detailed milieu in which it is located, she will come up with a brilliant interpretation. Like she did in Umrao Jaan, Ghar, Khoobhsurat and a few others! That explains a shocking inconsistency in her body of work.
But nobody cares. The icon towers over all. When Mira Nair premiered her erotica Kama Shastra in the West, the question she was bombarded with was, “Who’s that woman?” As Mira said, they were not talking about the two heroines but their earthy teacher, Rasa Devi, played by Rekha! (Courtesy: Bollywood Life)