'You think I’m lonely, but I know better': Rekha

RekhaElusive and glamourous, she is said to be the last of our real screen queens. It was therefore only expected that her appearance on Simi Garewal’s Rendezvous with Simi Garewal would revive audience curiosity about their most secretive diva.
‘‘It was something that I needed to do to connect with my fans,’’ Rekha tells me a few days after the historic screening of...
...her tete-a-tete. ‘‘I haven’t seen it. But ever since the interview my answering machine has been jammed with messages from fans. And I’m surprised at how many of these messages come from the younger generation. They want to know everything about my clothes, jewellery—it’s amazing,’’ says the stunning Rekha.

Ready to discuss almost anything under the sun, the actress was frank on Rendezvous about her past life, her marriage to Mukesh Aggarwal, his subsequent suicide and her much speculated-upon relationship with Amitabh Bachchan. But why has she been eluding the screen lately? ‘‘Where are the roles?’’ she sighs in that trademark husky voice. ‘‘Show me the roles and I will gladly do them. My fans won’t like it.’’

When I voice my disappointment with her minuscule roles in Ram Gopal Varma’s Bhoot and Rakesh Roshan’s Koi... Mil Gaya, Rekha chuckles, ‘‘I only had a week to spare for Varma. As for Koi... Mil Gaya I was just happy playing Hrithik Roshan’s mother. Yes, I’ve said before that if I had a son I’d like him to be like Hrithik.’’

On Rendezvous, Rekha surprised us all by singing in a surprisingly tuneful voice. ‘‘Oh no,’’ she is quick to protest. ‘‘I’m just a bathroom singer, no more. I don’t know how I managed to sing for Simi, and that too at 4 in the morning when it wasn’t just way past my bedtime but almost my breakfast time... I’ve sung earlier in my film Khoobsurat (remember the track Kayda kayda?) and also in Agar Tum Na Hote. But beyond that, no thank you!’’

Rekha has an elephant’s memory. She can recall every detail of my last visit with her even if it happened several years ago. After my first interview with Rekha, I had written a rather negative piece. The diva didn’t hold on to her grudge. ‘‘What’s point of fighting life?’’ she says. ‘‘The trick is to flow...let life take you where it wants to.’’

Is the actress contemplating an autobiography. ‘‘No way!’’ she laughs. ‘‘I don’t find myself interesting enough. I’d rather know about others. But yes, I feel this increasing need to connect with my fans. I’ve to find the medium to do so, though right now I don’t know what that medium would be.’’

Rekha lives all alone with minimal social interaction. She doesn’t go to parties. And after her pet poodle Pishti’s death, her constant companions are a cat Bhaiyyu and of course, the ever-faithful secretary Farzana whom Rekha describes as ‘‘my soul sister’’.

Doesn’t she feel lonely? ‘‘There you go, making presumptions about me and the way I live. You think I’m lonely. You think I need companionship. But I know better. Why are we always judging others? I never do that. For me every individual is precious, beautiful.’’