Though the duo’s ‘reel’ chemistry still remains the most awesome romantic pair of the Indian cinema but alas their ‘real’ love story is imbedded with much sting and sorrow.
Salam-e-ishq meri jan zara qubul kar lo, Tum hamse pyar karne ki zara si bhul kar lo
Akin to the lyrics from the movie MUQADDAR KA SIKANDAR in which Rekha entices Amitabh Bachchan to accept her greeting and fall in love, Amitabh Bachchan in real life, bowled over by Rekha’s bewitching beauty, accepted her invitation and did the blunder of falling in love, despite being married!!!
The duo first worked together in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s hit movie NAMAK HARAM (1973) however since Rekha was opposite Rajesh Khanna hence their relationship stuck to a cordial friendship.
Amitabh Bachchan’s First Encounter with Rekha
Nevertheless Amitabh was overwhelmed by Rekha’s stunning features hence had recommended Rekha to reduce her weight and work on her diction. Overjoyed by Amitabh’s admiration Rekha took Bachchan’s observation so seriously that she dedicated all her energy and emerged as the Diva of Bollywood out beating other gorgeous heroines like Hema Malani, Rakhee, Praveen Babi, Zeenat Aman and others of the 70’s.
Amitabh Bachchan Fires Rekha for Poor Diction
Rekha had transformed her looks so distinctly that three years later when the duo once again came together in DO ANJAANE (1976) Amitabh Bachchan was dumbfounded by her arresting beauty! Though Rekha had worked immensely on her figure but she still had flaws in her diction and would fumble when it came to chaste Urdu or Hindi dialogues (because she hailed from South India).
It’s reported while shooting for DO ANJAANE, once Amitabh lost temper as Rekha had not memorized her dialogues and was fumbling on set. Hence Amitabh Bachchan fired Rekha and asked her to memorize dialogues at home while coming to set. The incident had a deep impact on Rekha and next day when they shot Rekha stunned Amitabh by delivering a long dialogue in a single take. Impressed by her dedication, Amitabh applauded Rekha and this is how their friendship started.
Amitabh Bachchan – Rekha Jodi Declared Jinx!
Their next movie together was AALAP (1977). It’s believed it was during the making of this movie the so-called ‘good friend’ began inching closer. Their intimacy slowly began to splash in the scandalous magazine of the 70’s. According to some of these magazines the duo after shooting spent long hours together in a secretive bungalow that was reportedly owed by a close friend of Rekha.
While Amitabh and Rekha were clandestinely coming closer, their movies together at box office were flopping one after other! Both DO ANJAANE and AALAP were super duper flops! Thus the trade pundits had declared the pair as jinx. Hence when film producer Premji began casting of IMMAAN DHARAM, a multi starrer and written by Salim Javed, he took care to cast Rekha opposite Shashi Kapoor and Helen was cast opposite Amitabh Bachchan.
Helen in those day was close to writer Salim Khan hence on his recommendation she won the lead role. But despite hugely mounted, the movie was also a fiasco at the box office. Thus establishing the myth that Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha as hero and heroine was a jinx pair!
KHOON PASINA Breaks The Jinx!
Film makers consequently feared to cast the two together. However Prakash Mehra, who had already signed the duo for KHOON PASINA went ahead boldly with his project and fortunately the movie proved a hit. Interestingly what followed next was a series of hits that include GANGA KI SAUGAND (1978), KASME VAADE (1978), MUQADDAR KA SIKANDAR (1978), MR. NATWARLAL (1979) and SUHAAG (1979) thus bringing the duo more intimately.
Love Blossoms Between Amitabh and Rekha
The intimacy blossomed into intensity during the making of GANGA KI SAUGAND. According to reports Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha were shooting near Haridwar, over the sacred Ganges in Allahabad. The news spread like a forest fire and thousands of movie buffs thronged to watch the shooting. While the director Sultan Ahmed was busy setting the shot, a rural ruffian among the crowd hurled abuses at Rekha. Amitabh Bachchan who was close by, first ignored the mischief but when the ruffian continued Bachchan, turned furious. With a lightning speed he leaped from his seat and smashed the youth black and blue until Sultan Ahmed and the crew stopped him.
The episode created a furor among the media as the news was splashed not only in Bollywood glossies but even hit headlines of national dailies! Bollywood paparazzi since then began tracking the duo like a shadow and embarked upon churning spicy tales about their clandestine romance. While their romance was still making rounds in the media and had gradually started doing rounds among film fraternity in hush hush, Rekha added fuel to the fire by wearing a ‘Mangalsutra’ and sindoor at the wedding of Rishi Kapoor and Netu Singh in 1980 thus igniting the imagination of the media and giving room for speculation for her fans.
Relationship Soars After SILSILLA
The final nail in the coffin was hit by film legend Yash Chopra who in an interview to BBC London confessed, “I was aware that Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha were intensely involved in an affair before SILSILA (1981) and my movie was representing their ‘real life’ romance on screen. Hence I was on a tenterhook but both Rekha and Jaya Bhadhuri like thorough profession did their work without hassle.” However the pre release publicity of the movie created a lot of hullaballoo and became a catalyst in souring the relationship between Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha.
The movie not just flopped at the box office but also widened the gulf between Rekha and Amitabh Bachcha. After SILSILA, Bachchan and Rekha never worked together. They began keeping distance from each other. The relation turned so sour that when Amitabh Bchchan was struggling between life and death at Breach Candy hospital after the COOLIE accident, the entire film industry visited Bachchan but Rekha did turn up. While some say Rekha was hurt by Bachchan for abruptly breaking the relationship others allege that it was at the insistence of Jaya Bachchan, Rekha was barred from meeting Amitabh Bachchan.
Later in an interview to Filmfare Magazine in 1984 Rekha candidly spoke of her relation with Amitabh. She added that Amitabh Bachchan being a cultured and conventional intellectual hesitated in acknowledging her love for her as he did not wish to hurt his so called ‘Ardhangani’, Jaya!”
Cold War Comes to An End
After SILSILLA in 1981 Rekha tried to break the cold war after a gap of over two decades. In 2009 at the 54th Filmfare Awards Nite, Rekha took an initiative and hugged Abhishek Bachchan and blessed Aishwarya, Rai but Amitabh Bachchan shrugged her. However on January 14, 2014 the cold war ended with Amitabh Bachchan eventually obliging Rekha and greeting her at Screen Awards Nite.
Though the Amitabh –Rekha cold war has ended but the dream of millions of their fans to see the duo together is still a dream because when film maker Anees Bazmee tried to rope them in his sequel of WECLOME, the duo declined to work together!!!