Remember Mr.Mathur in Mast? Arre, Aftab’s Papa, who goes to his wardrobe in the closing scenes of the movie, and stares at his hidden poster of Rekha, as the soundtrack plays on – Uske Sivaa, Kuch Yaad Nahi !!! Yes, to a whole generation of desi cinephiles and beyond, Rekha is an inspiration, an intoxication which has been making us ‘Mast’ for ages. She is beauty personified, and she is the personification of the word ‘ Heroine’. In a career which has spanned across almost five decades, she is an institution in itself. It is almost impossible to confine her body of work in just a list of Navrang ( Nine shades ). But here I am, doing that exact ‘khata’. The only reason to have my list restricted to 9 types is because of the existence of the word Navrang itself. And also, it looks a bit more clean, tidy and organised innit.
So here we go, ..
The Navrang of Rekha
1. The Chulbuli-cious
Of course, the one that stands out in this category is the awesome and bindaas Manju in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khubsoorat (1980). Manju is a free spirit, whose infectious enthusiasm fills each frame of this movie with sheer joy and playfulness. Her intelligence is beyond comparison. She is well trained in Kathak, loves to rhyme, excels in Bridge and is sharp and spontaneous with her sarcastic comments. And oh, she is the love interest of the Doctor Baabu in the story too. Sigh! Manju – Hui Baanwari, Hui Baanwari !
2. The Courtesan
Probably the most prominent image with which Rekha is associated, is the Courtesan or Tawaaif. Rekha’s peaks in her career can be unquestionably attributed to Umrao Jaan (1981) and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1979). Umrao Jaan for obvious reasons, was one of Rekha’s ‘one-woman-show’ performance movie. The songs of Umrao Jaan goes a step forward to showcase her onscreen diva status and her tragic portrayal of ‘lost-in-love’ Tawaaif won her many accolades including the National Award.
A few years back, her supporting role as Zohrabai in Muqaddar Ka Sikander was sort of a modern take on Sarat Chandra’s Devdas. Amongst all the Amitabh/Rakhi-Memsaab/Vinod Khanna tussle, Rekha as Zohrabai, yet again becomes the ‘lost-in-love’ tragic woman – much like Chandramukhi. And yes, very much like Chandramukhi, she does have her dance moment with Dev Babu, I mean Sikandar. Yes, the song which every single one of you know – Salaam-E-Ishq. The jalwa of Kishore da and Lata ji, in one of Kalyanji-Anandji’s best compositions translates into one of the legendary movie moments of all time.
3. The Sexy-oomph seductress
C’mon, this one’s pretty obvious. She has been and continues to be a sex symbol even today. Her naughty looks and bejeweled appearance in Utsav(1984) as Vasantsena ( also a courtesan), and her romantic courtship with Charudutt inspires Vatsyayana to write the Kamasutra – that’s like the flipping Bible of sex..or something like that. And then, in Mira Nair’s Kamasutra, she preaches and teaches sexual positions. Not to forget, even in her 40’s, she scorched the screen with her ‘In-The-Night’ performance with Khiladi Baba Akshay under the shower, in the mud, by the pool et al.
4. Her Royal Graciousness
Silsila has a lot to do with this particular ‘Ras’. Her Saris made my sister go mad, well, until Sridevi invaded that space with Chandni – possibly, named after Rekha’s character in Silsila. Her hair, her misty smile and all the shabang! And then, there’s Ghar – her rumored offscreen love with Vinod Mehra translates into cracking onscreen chemistry (I’m getting technical now). And then there are a zillion and a half images of Rekha, not related to any movie specifically, which highlight her limelight factor. Take a few as examples.
And then, she makes a heart-stopping appearance in Deewanagee Deewanagee – Om Shanti Om.
5. The Bad-Ass Avenger
I know this is BollywoodDeewana‘s favourite ‘Rang’ when it comes to Rekha, hai naa? Rekha has no apprehensions in turning around and transforming from a sexy oomph, or even a shy and coy bitiya, or bahu raani, to ‘your worst nightmare’ (ok, just don’t do that Stallone voice). She kicks ass in a very unapologetic way, and makes you repent for all the bad deeds you did, or the bad things you did to her, in this life or past ones. Good examples would be the crocodile-survivor turns into 80’s fashion icon, or as Rakesh Roshan named it – Khoon Bhari Maang. Man, that Kabir Bedi got some payback! And of course, there’s the horse-riding female cop which inspired Sarah Connor, Lara Croft and Xena – the Warrior Princess. I am talking about Ma’am Namrata ( from Phool Baney Angaray -1991 ).
There are many others in this category, but the ones which deserve a mention are the hilarious yet unmissable Madam X (1994) ( a must watch if you love 90s crap, just as much as I do), and Khiladiyo Ka Khiladi (1996) ( yes, where she handles Undertaker, and does that ‘In the Night’ song too ). Speaking of Khiladiyo Ka Khiladi, take this.
6. The Pyar karne waali/ marne waali / jalne waali
As far as love goes, she has not been quite that lucky with having a happy ending and living happily ever after with our hero dude. Zohrabai dies (oh noes spoiler? ) by swallowing a ‘Heera’, Chandni ends up with her a-bit-boring Doctor dude, and Umrao Jaan (sigh!) – her tragedy is that she has no words to express her misery. Then, in Ghar she is a victim of a rape incident, and her khush-pariwaar is turned upside down. But when she does get to show off her love, she does it like no one else could.
Take this – Pardesiya, ye Sach Hai Piya, Sab Kehte Hai Maine, Tujhko Dil De Diya ( no, noooooo.. stop thinking about Rakhi Sawant NOW!)
7. The not-so-conventional Bahu
Yes, she can be the ideal and very good Bahu-rani. But Sasu-Maa Bindu, if you try messing with her, you are in for a well reconciled payback. Case in point – Biwi Ho To Aisi. So, she might be the village belle who falls in love with your Sehri Beta, but she’ll bowl you over with her ‘Angrezi’ ( at the climax, obviously). And she’ll give tit for tat a new level of meaning.
Oh, if you thought she can only straighten up Saasu maa, then you couldn’t be more wrong. She also knows how to discipline her own Pati-parmeshwar and in the process, bring the family together. Case in point – Sansar. This is one of Rekha’s must watch movies..trust me. She almost single handedly tackles her ‘nihaayat-hi’ selfish Raj Babbar husband, in collaboration with Gangu Bai – Aruna Irani, arranges wedding for her Devrani Rajni ( Archana Joglekar), and all this while, there’s awesome father-son tussle scenes. [ I really need to do a post on Sansar. Someone send me the DVD please! ].
And not to forget, if her Pati is tormented by an evil-ex who is now a Ghost, she can totally bitch-slap her too. That’s the power of her Mangalsutra.
8. The Item number 1
You knew this was coming right? This maybe a subset of the seductress category (if you were to be really technical ). But c’mon. LOOK. AT. THIS.
Worthy mention – Amol Palekar’s dream – in Golmaal’s (Sapne Mein Dekha Sapna). Not strictly a item number, more like a guest appearance. And of course,
9. The Best Mother of ALL TIME
And last of all, Amma jee. With age, Bollywood actors do slide into the mother role routine. But she is no ordinary Maa. She is Maa of Scientist Rohit, and Grandma of Krrish.
She is Saritaji, widowed and single mother who raised two very naughty daughters.
And if you mess with her kids, you know she’s not gonna like you (Refer to that crocodile/alligator movie).
So there you go, those were the Nav-Ras of Rekha. And with that we come to the end of Rekhatober. I have worked really hard to create these GIFs, so if you share them, please credit me or my website for the same. Even if this is the end of our awesome Rekhatober, I will definitely be exploring more and more Rekha movies in the future. Thanks to all the lovely Bolly Bloggers who contributed to Rekhatober. All their posts can be found here. Hope you liked this post. Leave your comments, and kindly share the love by sharing it on Twitter, Tumblr, Digg, Facebook et al.