There is a King with his trademark deep baritone voice, the tall, brooding persona, and intense eyes ,there is a queen who is truly an enigma; a romance with beauty, and their untold love story. All the stories in this world, they say, have already been told. Except this one, the 'love story' of an 'ugly duckling turned princess,' and the 'angry man destined to be emperor,' the emperor of Bollywood.
Call it a rumor or a true story but the alleged affair between the legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan and the evergreen beauty Rekha is still a mystery. Their affair was the talk of the town then but the details of it are still a secret for most of us. While Rekha has admitted in several interviews that Amitabh Bachchan is the only man she has ever loved, the legendary actor has chosen kept silent about it. The silence that Big B has built over his alleged 'love affair' with Rekha is perhaps what makes their relationship so private that go beyond the ordinary subject of Bollywood rags, where cheapness takes over in the name of romance. X loves Y who loved A, who was having an affair with C; Y dumps X to live with C while X hooks up with A. Isn't that Bollywood romance today? Some romances are meant to be so: Powerfully passionate and wrapped in quietness. Either the two, or both of them, struck by that undefined feeling of love, must bear the cross. It is painful, enduring and absolutely nerve-wracking.
For the both, who once ruled Bollywood, life hasn't been easy. Big B survived accidents, suffered in politics, lost his friends, was almost bankrupt, and then returned with the payback like the angry young man who he once portrayed on screen. Only, in real life, he was anything but young. Today, he is more incisive with the media, bites them down with sharp tweets and blogs, and over the past years, has built a detached decency that few would want to ruffle.
Rekha too had her share of tragedies. For the south Indian girl who was called the 'ugly duckling' when she was first discovering her turf in Mumbai, life offered some of the unkindest cuts. The daughter of Gemini Ganesan came out of her many crises, much like Big B, through her own persistence. She started acting very early, at the age of Thirteen. She did not even know Hindi at that time. But she was a quick learner and learnt Hindi in three months and dancing in one month.In 1970, Her first film Sawan Bhadon done with Navin Nischol was released. Who would once have thought Rekha would transform into the princess, a beauty that even today, in an age that is past the prime, is almost dreamlike? Apparently, she took recourse in yoga, dieted and returned to thump her nose at her Bollywood detractors as a swashbuckling heroine, and delivering a string of hits. Several of these were with Amitabh Bachchan, and people attributed much credit for Rekha's transformation to the influence of Big B. True or not, we will never know.
There are love affairs, of course, where the man gives his heart and soul, even in a losing game, to bring out the best in his lady love. There is that element of so-called sacrifice, where giving all is all that matters, not even when the love is unreturned. We will never know if there was an element of unrequited love in the affair. We will never know if either of the two was being opportunistic. After all, it is Bollywood. One's ladder is another's snake. In a recent revelation, filmmaker Yash Chopra said that for the hit Silsila he had earlier chosen to cast Smita Patil and Parveen Babi alongside Amitabh Bachchan instead of Jaya Bachchan and Rekha. "I had signed both Smita Patil and Parveen Babi and both of them were to start shooting. Smita was to do the role played by Jaya Bachchan and Parveen that of Rekha. I went to meet Amitji and spoke to him about the film," Mr Chopra said. "It was Amitji who asked me if I was happy... content with the casting (Smita Patil, Parveen Babi and Amitabh Bachchan) and do I feel it is the ideal casting. I told him I wanted to cast him, Jayaji and Rekha. He took a long pause and told me that he was fine with the decision but asked me to convince the two actresses," he said. The later part was history. The game ended with 'Silsila,' a casting coup for Yash Chopra, with Big B, Jaya Bhadhuri (Bachchan) and Rekha, almost in a recreation of their real life status. Was there a romance, indeed? If yes, what killed it? Perhaps it was the sanctity of marriage. Or the family name. Or that one of the two simply didn't return the affection. Or that they were two practical people who refused to hurt the others involved. Or the two Librans (Rekha - born Oct. 10; Big B - Oct 11) are too true to their zodiac signs - full of love and affection but indecisive, willing to bear the brunt of pain in silence but never to rock a boat.
Or perhaps it was just an affair that never was.
Maybe it will remain secret as it is now.
Some stories are better to leave untold.