New Book On Rekha Looks At The Bollywood Diva’s Life With Sympathy And Awe

Yasser Usman | Hindustan Times

The young Rekha was body and slut-shamed and sexually harassed. She rose above it all to become the ultimate Hindi film leading lady. Yasser Usman, author of a new book on the star writes that Bollywood’s cruelty pushed her to become a recluse.

I never was a huge Rekha fan. She wasn’t high up in the pecking order of Bollywood stars for a child of the 1980s. But I am intrigued, even moved, by her: Rekha seems wracked by loneliness and sadness, but it wasn’t always this way. Something drastic happened around 1990 that fundamentally changed her. Rekha went from being the Kim Kardashian of the 1970s and ’80s – attention-seeking, exuberant and sexually frank to a degree not seen in India even today – to a Greta Garbo-esqe figure, tragic and reclusive. So what happened to make Rekha clam up? The exhaustion, and the trauma, of years of combating vicious sexist attacks by colleagues in the film industry and the press, at a scale unimaginable today, had finally caught up with her. Had Bollywood ultimately managed to break Rekha?

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