Enjoy our faster App experience

Why is she Such a Control Freak?

Why is she Such a Control Freak?

Rekha was asked to step down from Fitoor after she threw tantrums on the sets. It’s a pity this fine actress continues to be in thraldom of her ego

By Khalid Mohamed

Published: Fri 12 Jun 2015, 12:37 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:19 PM

Time has to stand absolutely still for Bollywood’s prime diva Rekha. Evidently, at the age of 60, she is not pleased if she doesn’t look drop-dead-gorgeous, if her costumes are not to her taste, and heaven help the filmmaker and the cinematographer if she is dissatisfied with the way she has been presented visually. Never mind the acting chops.

SUPER FLOPS: (below) Rekha’s last bunch of films—(top to bottom Super Nani, Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamana, Sadiyaan and Yatra—were disastrous. Fitoor could have been a good comeback for her

A female Dorian Gray of sorts, lately Rekha sparked headlines when she dropped out of Abhishek Kapoor’s Fitoor, an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 19th-century classic Great Expectations. The entire footage of her role as the desi Miss Havisham, a lovelorn ageing spinster, has been scrapped. Why? Because she did not approve of the rushes.

Odd, that. After all, in the advance publicity stills of Fitoor, she looked strikingly beautiful in a Kashmiri ensemble, a look designed to showcase the abiding enigma of Ma’am Re, who rarely steps out of her Bandra sea-facing bungalow. The &actress has stated that no men are allowed to enter her home, not even domestic help, because, well, she likes to live in isolated splendour, supported by her long-time secretary Farzana Khan.

“Only ‘he’, the one man who matters in my life, has been inside my house,” she had told me once ever so cryptically in the course of an interview. When I had asked who this ‘he’ was, she had laughed, “Go figure!”

Rekha’s loss, Tabu’s gain: Tabu with top-notch performances in films such as Haider (right) recently, and Astitva (far right) in2000, under her belt, has been roped in to play Rekha’s part in Fitoor

Rekha’s loss, Tabu’s gain: Tabu with top-notch performances in films such as Haider (right) recently, and Astitva (far right) in2000, under her belt, has been roped in to play Rekha’s part in Fitoor

Rekha can be uncontrollably humorous or she can be exasperating. The unnecessary exit from Fitoor is, alas, an example of her stubborn, non-negotiable ways. Buzz even has it that she was politely asked to leave the film when the technical team couldn’t cope with her high-handedness. She would insist camera angles and lighting to be of her choice — calls which are exclusively the director’s and certainly not his actors’. Abhishek Kapoor, reputed for his courteous manners on the sets, apparently had no option but to let her go, entailing a major dent in the budget and probably a delay in the film’s release.

The ever-dependable Tabu has been rushed in to replace Rekha, a change which may well prove to be of advantage to Fitoor, which co-stars Aditya Roy Kapoor and Katrina Kaif in the lead roles. That the 43-year-old Tabu is at the peak of her form has been asserted by her performances in Haider and The Namesake. Neither does Tabu seem to have any issues about portraying characters grappling with a midlife crisis, as she did so powerfully in Astitva, 15 years ago. Clearly, Rekha’s loss is Tabu’s gain, adding inadvertently to the project’s equity in the market.

Back to Rekha: clearly the snag is that she has been suffering from delusions of grandeur. Her last bunch of films — Yatra, Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamana, Sadiyaan and Super Nani — were disastrous, without any redeeming factors. Moreover, she has overpriced herself, causing a huge setback to the producers, in terms of financial returns from the box office. Offers of hosting TV shows have fallen through, since the fees demanded by her are beyond the realm of imagination. At the same time, she recently assented to a blink-and-miss cameo in Shamitabh. What was she thinking of?

Filmmakers grumble that she is whimsical and unpredic-table. Talks were on with her, at different times, to star in Bollywood versions of Fedora as well as Sunset Boulevard. Eventually, both projects went through the cracks. An adaptation of the Meryl Streep-Clint Eastwood mature romantic drama, The Bridges of Madison County, in which she was to be paired with Jackie Shroff, also went pfft. A pity, because Rekha still has what it takes to belt out accomplished performances.

It’s her fussy, unilateral behaviour which is unfathomable. A darling of glamour photographers, over the decades she has monitored her publicity stills with such fastidiousness that the new generation of film shutterbugs are wary of &approaching Rekha. Intermittently, she would preen in extensive photo-sessions with the late Gautam Rajadhyaksha and Jagdish Mali, and then moving on to Ashok Salian and Jayesh Salian. It goes without saying that every photo session was directed by her in a bid to prevent any signs of skin blemish or change in her chiselled jawline.

Like it or not, Rekha is a control freak. It would have been truly wonderful to see her incarnating Dickens’ Miss Havisham. I, for one, am sure she must have looked ravishing, besides acting with her customary expertise. But then, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.

In Rekha’s case, the beauty and the beholder have merged into one. A real pity this, she needs to be seen far more frequently on screen. No one cares about warts and wrinkles. Just look at Waheeda Rehman and Hema Malini, who continue to look glorious without glancing even sidewards at the mirror. 


More news from WKND
Telling stories that 'stick'


Telling stories that 'stick'

Everyone knows that oral and written traditions of storytelling are the most effective ways to pass on values. The modern marketplace is no different

WKND1 year ago