The sizzling affair between megastar Amitabh Bachchan and the Bollywood’s eternal temptress Rekha remains unparalleled. The affair provided enough material for gossip tabloids to run their business for a few good years – that is not surprising given Rekha’s penchant for loving her men with wild abandon.
Born Baby Bhanurekha, Rekha was on a constant look out for a father figure being south Indian superstar Gemini Ganesan’s unwanted child. Nursing a broken heart over the likes of Kiran Kumar and Jeetendra, her liaison with Amitabh is something she cherished with a vengeance. She was slowly working her way up from being a fat, dark thing in Saawan Bhadon to the top ranking sultry seductress of Indian cinema.
Amitabh of course was not just her darling – he was the darling of the masses and had a basa-basaya ghar with doting wife Jaya, children and parents. He did not require any negative publicity to tarnish his squeaky-clean angry young man image.
The chemistry between the two was very evident on screen. Their love story began on the sets of Do Anjaane – the second film that they did together. The pair provided hit after hit together – Khoon Pasina, Ganga Ki Saugandh, Suhaag, Muqaddar Ka Sikandar, Ram Balram and Mr. Natwarlal amongst others. Yash Chopra’s Silsila was their last film together and it captured the real life Rekha-Amit-Jaya infidelity triangle.
At the beginning of the affair, the couple apparently met regularly at a secluded bungalow that belonged to Rekha’s friend. It became quite evident that the two were involved when a normally sombre Bachchan roughed up one fellow who heckled her while they were shooting for Ganga Ki Saugandh. People had begun noticing how the pair was spending more and more time together and were trying to shield their affair from the media glare.
Rekha knew she would get the raw deal if Jaya ever found about the affair. She would always be the other woman like her mother had been. There was a lot at stake; especially her fragile ego but she couldn’t care less now that she was madly in love. And once she heard of the clandestine Hema-Dharmendra wedding, she hoped for marriage and threw caution to the wind.
Rekha made headlines when she turned up for Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh’s wedding wearing sindoor, mangalsutra and two rings on her fingers gifted by her Amit. She hogged all the limelight that night – even more than the newly weds did.
Jaya Bachchan may have pursed her lips at such shameless show of bravado but she would not give in without a fight. She suffered in dignity, refusing to bawl her heart out in interviews and in public.
She invited Rekha home for dinner one day. To quote Rekha, ‘Jayaji called me for dinner one evening and though we spoke about everything but ‘him’, before I left that day, she made sure to tell me: ‘I will never leave Amit whatever happens!’ Sure enough, Jaya kept her word.
Gossip magazines thrived on the affair. Juicy titbits such as the news of Jaya catching the couple at one of their early morning rendezvous and slapping the other woman appeared with amazing regularity in all leading tabloids. Though she refused to acknowledge the affair in public, Jaya said that if Amit were cheating on her, his conscience would eventually get the better of him and straighten him out.
Jaya’s words rung true – Amitabh the star and the good husband had to buckle under severe media and family pressure. Around the time that Silsila captured this torrid love affair, the couple split. It was the end of one of the most passionate affairs both on and off screen. The glamour attached to the couple is such that even today when any of the trio is seen in one place, the camera crews never fail to capture their reactions towards one another.
While Mr and Mrs Bachchan now present the picture of a happy family nurturing their son Abhishek’s career, Rekha does about a film a year guarding her private life with amazing severity.