Life & Style

‘I have always lived like an Indian princess’: Bollywood icon Rekha in rare interview with Vogue Arabia

  • Actor grants first interview in nearly two decades, highlighting introspection, commitment to her craft
Published July 4, 2023
Photo: Vogue Arabia
Photo: Vogue Arabia

Veteran Bollywood doyen Rekha graced the cover for the July/August issue of Vogue Arabia, speaking about the importance of intuition and commitment to her craft, the magazine revealed on Monday.

Rekha’s career has spanned 54 years, in which she has starred in over 300 films, including cult classics such as ‘Umrao Jaan’ and ‘Silsila’, even earning a Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian awards.

She is still lauded and remembered for epitomizing and reviving opulent Indo-Mughal culture in ‘Umrao Jaan, which came out in 1981’.

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Speaking about her love for films she questions, “When you love someone or something so deeply, does the love disappear? No.”

“Once the relationship is established it is forever. Sometimes we may want more and sometimes it’s just enough. This applies to my craft. Whether I make films or not, it never leaves me. I have my memories to relive what I love. And when the time is right, the right project will find me.”

“The refinement of the mind is not always about the breadth of experience, which is wonderful when you are young and hungry for new adventures,” says Rekha.

“But right now, I believe in the depth of my lived experience…this commitment to the magic of life is true of my relationships, my career, and my own inner life.”

 Photo: Vogue Arabia
Photo: Vogue Arabia

Speaking about her intuition and how it has helped shape her craft, the actor said: “I was born with an instinct for the perseverance of beauty”.

“Sure, I was born to actors, and I have done more than 300 films, but it is my insatiable quest for learning, my willingness to keep my eyes and heart open, absorbing beauty with positivity not negativity, that gives me command over my craft.”

“I feel like a newcomer every day. And I trust those who demonstrate commitment like I do,” she adds.

Former Vogue Arabia cover star and Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone confirmed this notion, saying, “Rekha’s aura is magnetic. She can effortlessly captivate an entire audience with just a glance, and her performances are a masterclass in acting.”

Fellow Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan said Rekha’s “charisma is unmatched, and she leaves an indelible mark on every role she portrays.”

 Rekha in a Maharaja jewelry set by Van Cleef & Arpels. Photo: Vogue Arabia
Rekha in a Maharaja jewelry set by Van Cleef & Arpels. Photo: Vogue Arabia

“I have always lived like an Indian princess, not that anyone is privy to it. I live like that because I feel it”, says Rekha, “It’s not just a state of mind, but the state of my life.”

Calling herself a “joyful and fulfilled recluse”, she is picky about her public appearances.

“I am so blessed to have earned the right to choose what I love. And to have the luxury to simply say no. This keeps my soul alert,” says Rekha.

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Speaking about the next generation of Bollywood talent she added,

“Today there is an avalanche of young talent with extraordinary skills and I am thoroughly impressed by their debut performances,” she said.

“It gives me great pleasure that I am here to witness their rise. It is also incredibly heartening to see how they resonate with me when so many of my colleagues have been long forgotten by this new generation.

They recognize that the work I do now, very sparingly, is still done with a sense of great reverence for the craft, with gratitude, and absolute love.“

Returning to the importance of the depth of lived experience she says, “I am my own hugely amused audience,” she concluded.

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