Big B brought bad films; Haven’t liked a SRK film after DDLJ-Rakhee
Rakhee breaks her silence after 15 years. Tells us why DDLJ was the last Shah Rukh Khan film she liked
Vickey Lalwani (MUMBAI MIRROR; September 18, 2012)
Why are you so reclusive?
Why should I be in the public glare? I don’t need too much money. I don’t have too many responsibilities any more. I love my independence. There is nobody to question me. For the longest time now, it’s been my farmhouse near Panvel and my animals. I think I may have belonged to the animal kingdom in my past life. And then, I have my books. I am happy and contented.
Has your love for animals and plants landed you in a spot?
I remember Yash Johar coming home one day and falling off the stairs because my dogs chased him. He ended up getting a hairline fracture. Another time, I got into an argument with Amitabh Bachchan when our car stopped and he started looking for the water bottles that had been kept inside. When he realised I had used all that water over some plants, he quipped, “Where are you coming from?” To which, I replied, “Why do you carry a sitar with you when you don’t play it?”
Why did you stop acting?
I withdrew from films once I stopped getting roles of my choice. But I will always remember my journey and how lucky I have been in getting to learn from so many directors. I shared a great equation with the Barjatyas, Yash Chopra and Dev Anand. I still remember shooting at the TOI building when Satyen Bose slapped me when I didn’t get a scene right in Jeevan Mrityu. I recall when I refused to shoot a scene in Gulmarg because a lump of poop was lying there, Hrishikesh Mukherjee himself picked it up and threw it away. Directors were special those days.
We didn’t even see you at Rajesh Khanna and Dev Anand’s deaths.
I wasn’t there even at Sanjeev Kumar’s death. When Rajesh passed away, I was at my farmhouse. I called up Gulzar and told him to rush to Aashirwad. I didn’t come down to Mumbai. I didn’t want to see him that way. I didn’t want to make a spectacle of my tears either. But I did visit him in hospital. A few days after his demise, I placed a rose near his picture kept outside his bungalow. Rajesh was like one of the seven wonders for the industry. There was magic in his face and mannerisms. He was shy and conservative but misunderstood. Why wouldn’t he come three hours late for a shot when his co-actors including me took three hours to dress up? He did not use any make up ever. Would anybody from the current crop of actors do a film like Bawarchi?
What do you think of today’s Bollywood?
I am nobody to judge today’s cinema but if you insist, here’s my personal opinion. Today’s hit films have a shelf life of seven days, the lyrics are incomprehensible, and the music is so noisy. Rajesh Khanna brought good films. Amitabh Bachchan brought bad films. I haven’t liked a single SRK film after DDLJ. Aap kabhi robot bante ho, kabhi superman. What are you trying to prove? Be human. Taare Zameen Par was the last Hindi film I saw in the theatre.
You were paired with some of the most handsome heroes of your time. You were considered one of the best looking heroines. Were you ever attracted to anyone or vice versa?
I was in awe of Shashi Kapoor but I knew where to draw the line. As for the other way round, I don’t know who got into that bracket. Joh baat mujhe karni hi nahin thi, us mein main kyun padun? I was engaged and committed to Gulzar.
We hear Gulzar and you are still in regular touch.
I can’t choose my parents and relatives. But I chose Gulzar. My choices are my responsibility. My bond with him will always remain.
Is your daughter Meghna making her next film?
I don’t think Meghna’s kind of films are made anymore. Does Gulzar make films these days?
Which is your best performance?
Difficult question but Blackmail was perhaps the only film where I did not falter at all. I hated being melodramatic. I remember telling Subhash Ghai to tone down my role in Ram Lakhan but he thought differently.
They say you are a great cook.
I still cook. It’s a stress buster for me.