After bringing out the untold story of legendary superstar Rajesh Khanna, the journalist turned author Yasser Usman has penned  the untold story of Rekha, the renowned Bollywood actor of 1980’s and 1990’s who need no special introduction. But behind those sparkling deep eyes there is a story of a lonely fighter. I was completely dumbstruck after reading the biography Rekha: The Untold Story by Yasser Usman. 

My earliest impression of Rekha is that of a glamorous diva who acted in films with powerful roles like Phool Bane Angaray, Khoon Bhari Maang, Khoobsurat, Umrao Jaan, Sansar, Ghar and similar such movies. Well these are the movies of Rekha I have watched while growing up. And of course, have heard about her famous affair with Amitabh Bachchan and that the movie Silsila was inspired from their life. Nothing much apart from this.

So the first surprise for me in the book was that she is from Chennai. I never have any inkling about it or I must have a poor general knowledge of yesteryear stars. Only the name Rekha doesn’t indicate anything. She was born out of the wedlock. Her story as a kid, unloved and unaccepted by her superstar father Gemini Ganesan was a shocking revelation for me. 

Acting was her calling but Rekha never went searching for movies. It is such that movie directors and producers came to her intrigued by her dusky raw looks. And thus began her journey as a bollywood actor which the author has penned brilliantly. It was interesting to read about outspoken and unabashed Rekha and how she transformed into the Rekha we all know today.

There were many men in her life. Jeetendra, Vinod Mehra, Kiran, Dharmendra and of course Amitabh Bachchan and later on her husband Mukesh Agarwal. Accordingly to author’s finding these were not passing affairs in her life. She was deeply in love with each of them but somehow never got the love back. She always looked for acceptance from men which was denied right from the beginning.  

The book is not the official biography of Rekha. So actually we never get to read the Rekha’s side story from her. But the book is more based on the information provided by people near to her, recordings and archived interviews. As a consequence there are many unanswered questions about various controversies in the book. The author has given both side story and left on the readers to draw the conclusions. 

Questions about Rekha’s responsibility in her failed marriage and Mukesh’s death, truth behind the first kiss in the movie remained unanswered. Same could be said about Amitabh and Rekha affair. Author came to no conclusion. Instead he has drawn an interesting analysis about their affair through Rekha’s interview.

For instance, during 1980’s Rekha indirectly credited Amitabh responsible for her makeover. Later after 1990’s she denied of any affair. But she said that like entire nation she was also in love with Amitabh as a fan and admirer. Amitabh never commented to any of her statements. And we know both of them will never open up about their relationship so let the truth, whatever it is, buried deep.

The Verdict:

The book is a perfect balance of her professional and personal life. None of them overlapped or overshadowed in the biography. In fact, the author took great care not to turn his book into a juicy gossip trash. He has brilliantly covered her journey of complete transformation. It was like witnessing with own eyes.

The author has substantially covered her childhood life and formative years which helped understand the teenage wild Rekha, her strings of affair, her signing movies after movies etc. 

Only shortcoming of this nearly perfectly written book was that Rekha never gave interview to the author to give that extra weight-age to the findings of the book. While more and more celebrities are coming forward with their biographies and memoirs to present their side of the story I wonder why Rekha want to shy away from her story. Indeed there are too many uncomfortable episodes in her life which should be left buried. 

Rekha inspires to be a fighter in life and never give up whatsoever. With this note I am finishing my review. It is highly recommended for all the Rekha’s fan and otherwise.

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Ritu Mantri

Ritu is an avid book reader. She also reviews books and have reviewed around 200+ books till date. Her target is to finish 1000 books.

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