Rekha…..A Ravishing Revelation
ALI PETER JOHN
The more I try to believe that this is not an age of miracles, the more this amazing and unbelievable woman called Rekha makes me or even forces me to believe that miracles still happen and Rekha, the ravishing woman who has made herself a miracle, is the strongest proof of a miracle happening during my lifetime at least, she had baffled me once when no one was willing to accept her even as an ordinarily woman worth any attention by men and by women and who with her own strong will and with her being in love–in life all the time has grown into an enchanting enigma which is beyond description. And the more I try to know more about her, the more mesmerising and miraculous and at times even ethereal she grows and makes me and I am sure millions of others sway and soon over her, the way she looks at 64, the way she attracts attention of man, women, nature and may be even God, and I am certainly not taking all the so-called godmen who are rotting in jails and hiding their sins behind saffron robes and dark cloaks.
I have been lucky to watch her rise, right from the time when she was thought about like an object who could be played around with and who could even be taken advantage of by men and others who believed that they had the power to take advantage of even God and considered Rekha to be nothing, but a ‘naachne gaanewali’.
I love repeating the unusual story of her having a reincarnation and a resurrection and going through hell to create a heaven of her own, a heaven which many have tried to disrupt and even demolish and destroy, but have miserably failed because they have not tried to know who the real and the magical Rekha she is. From the time she did her first few films with heroes like Biswajeet, Navin Nischol and other not so big heroes, to the times she did films with Jeetendra who she once called ‘my God in white shoes’ and Dharmendra, the he man who had to reach a stage when he had to respect her because she had kept evolving and growing into different Rekhas with the passing of time which showed all the signs of being her best companion, like it was for a tall and entirely unlikely hero who became ‘God’ and just ‘Him’ or ‘He’ for her.
Time kept walking with her and the man who walked with time became a very priceless part of her metamorphosis, a butterfly whose colours could even dazzle the eyes of God who created her and make his angels envious of her, he was on her way to be a miracle of God till she was accepted as a miracle even by her worst critics and rivals, if there was one section of men and women who wanted to see her vanish from the face of this ugly earth which she had brought light into, it was those who called themselves the media, but even they had to eat their own bitter words with their breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert and their booze, which mostly came free to them, sometimes even by those who were interested in seeing the end of her.
Rekha not only turned out to be a versatile actress, but she worked very hard in perfecting every form of dance and some of her classical dances and ‘mujras’ in films like “Muqaddar Ka Sikander” and what I think was the ultimate in dancing the ‘mujra’ to the words of the poet Shahryar and to the eternal tunes of the late Khayyam. It is sad to see that ask those who were part of that dance have either danced their way out of life, men like Farouque Shaikh and Khayyam and the poet Shahryar and the veteran actress, Shaukat Kaifi, wife of the poet Kaifi Azmi and mother of Shabana Azmi are either very sick or are not seen or heard of and the maker of the film, Muzaffar Ali is groping to find his way after he lost it while he tried to make his ‘most ambitious film’ called “Zoonie” with Zeenat Aman, all these names have become a part of history, but Rekha, the Umrao Jaan is still creating history and is still the ‘jaan’ of life.
Rekha, the actress was last seen in “Qilla” with the master of all great acting, Dilip Kumar (with whom she had also done “Aag Ka Dariya” and played his wife, but the film unfortunately has still not been released, and if you ask me who has seen “Aag Ka Dariya” several times, the miracle called Rekha has never looked so miraculous as she has looked in the film.
But her not being seen in films has not succeeded in taking away any of the miraculous powers she is blessed with by her God in heaven and even her ‘God’ in life on this earth where she and her ‘God’ seem to have been sent by the God above to let man know about his omnipotence, omnipresence and his omniscience.
As she keeps growing in age according to the rules of the calendar, she keeps breaking all rules when it comes to her growing more and more beautiful and more and more mysterious and more and more miraculous. At her age, other women would be grandmothers who had retired from all work and be busy knitting dresses for her grandchildren or sitting in a rocking chair and recalling the glorious years of youth and counting beads on a rosery (mala) and taking the name of God above. But this woman who has always been defying rules of ordinary life is still walking around like the miracle she has been, she can still walk as fast as the ‘God’ on earth who she has been following all her life, the silk sarees she wears for every occasion, the vermilion on her forehead, that ‘maang mein sindur’ and her trademark blood-red lipstick for all occasions make her nothing less than a goddess on earth.
Of late, the miracle called Rekha has crossed one more line and has been singing in public and making people disbelieve what she is up to, but have to believe that she is down to serious business when it comes to singing. I had the rare occasion of hearing her sing the well-known gazal of the Pakistani singer, Farida Khannum,“Aaj jaane ki zid na karo” and sing the ‘alaap’ in a way in which not even the original voice could sing, nor could any of her other imitators. Rekha was not imitating, she was singing her heart out. She has also been singing the most difficult songs of “Umrao Jaan”, originally sung by Asha Bhosle and the way she sings ‘yeh kya jagah hai doston’ will surely make even the most avid admirers of the original singers admit that she is the one who adds that miraculous touch to the eternal song.
As I was driving through a place in a popular suburb, I saw the miracle in reality. She was dressed in the most modern outfit which was her way of wearing her favourite dress, the saree. She was all covered in pure white silk, she had her head covered with what I find difficult to describe and she had the vermilion mark on her forehead, her favourite blood-red lipstick, dark glares and that mysterious ‘maang mein sindur’ which I think she will not give up till that God orders her to give up and I don’t think that God will stop her from having her way, because in having her way, she is adding glory to all ‘His’ will.
Where will the 64 year old young miracle of a woman go from here? I don’t think even both her gods don’t know and who is an ordinary mortal like me to know?
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