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Rekha and the Parliament Seating Row

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By Syed Ali Mujtaba


Rekha, the leading actress of the Hindi film industry who was sworn in as a Member of Parliament recently, courted controversy related to her seating arrangement in the Rajya Sabha. 


Rekha was nominated to the upper house along with industrialist Anu Aga and cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. Her seat fell right behind her contemporary actor and MP, Jaya Bachachan, who changed her seat to avoid the same camera frame. Jaya Bachchan is a Rajya Sabha member of the Samajwadi Party from Uttar Pradesh.


According to gossip mills that are churning out stories, the action of the Samajwadi MP was prompted by the fact that Rekha in yesteryears was romantically linked with her husband Amitabh Bachachan. 


The 57-year-old Rekha was allotted seat 99, which was behind Jaya Bachchan, who was earlier seated on seat 91. When Jaya Bachchan came to know this fact she shifted herself to avoid being in the same camera frame.


In fact on the Rekha’s swearing in day the TV camera’s focused on Jaya Bachchan for considerable period of time that led to some ask some why she was given undue prominence,. Little, they realize that there was more to tale to tell, then what the eyes could see. 
 
The two leading ladies of the Hindi cinema were gossiped to be caught in a love triangle as reportedly Rekha was madly in love with the superstar Amitabh Bacchan, who was married to Jaya Bhaduri.


Rekha and Amitabh Bacchan shared a fine on screen chemistry.Her first film with Amitabh Bachchan was Do Anjaane, where she plays an ambitious wife. They worked in several movies, such as Mr Natwarlal and Muqaddar Ka Sikandar etc. The two were termed as the hottest on screen and off screen couple. There are many gossips doing the rounds about their alleged affair.


This story was beautifully captured by Yash Chopra in the movie Silsila (1981). The movie, starring all three showed the real life relationship. The movie became a super hit due to the off screen romance that raged on between Rekha and Amitabh Bachachan.


It was around same time another romance flourished in Bollywood and that was between Dharmendra and Hemamalini. Dharmendra who was married, went on to sire children with his costar outside the wedlock, Amitabh Bachchan restrained and maintained a working relationship with Rekha. 
 
The Rajya Sabha, seating controversy was taken lightly by Jaya Bachchan. She reportedly had said that she changed her seat due to the demise of party colleague Brij Bhushan Tiwari, who used to sit next to her and refused to be drawn into unnecessary controversy.


Rekha was born in Madras to Tamil actor Gemini Ganesan and Telugu actress Pushpavalli. Her parents were not married and her father did not acknowledge his paternity during her childhood.


It was in early 1970s, when Rekha was looking for break in Bollywood, that she revealed her origins. Later, she reportedly said that her father's neglect still haunted her. No wonder she never showed up his funeral in 2004.


In 1990, Rekha married Delhi-based industrialist Mukesh Aggarwal. A year later, while Rekha was in the US, Aggarwal committed suicide, leaving a note, "Don't blame anyone.”


As a new member of the Rajya Sabha, Rekha took the pledge in English. The heartthrob of 70s and 80s who has acted in around 180 films in her film career spanning four decades was at her charming best.


She received a warm welcome from the members of the house that included Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Her Silsila rival, Jaya Bachchan, did not greet her!


[Syed Ali Mujtaba is a Journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com]
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