How Rekha immortalized the role of UMRAO JAAN

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In aankhon ki masti ke mastaane hazaaron hain
In aankhon se vaabasta afsaane hazaaron hain…..

These lines from Muzaffar Ali’s classic UMRAO JAAN skillfully captures the essence of actress Rekha’s both ‘reel’ and ‘real’ life because she has millions of fan across the globe who are intoxicated by the lust of her eyes. In addition her ‘real’ life too is packed with thousands of legends attached to these eyes.

REKHA in UMRAO JAAN
REKHA in UMRAO JAAN

October 10 marks the birthday of this legendary diva of Bollywood who is making a comeback with SUPERNANI and a cameo in Amitabh Bachchan’s SHAMITABH; Glamsham wishes her birthday greetings and takes readers down the memory lane how Rekha immortalized the role of UMRAO JAAN.

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The highlight of UMRAO JAAN was its dance and music. Music director Khayyam did an excellent job. As regards choreography, director Muzaffar Ali hired the best choreographers viz. the legendary Kathak dance guru, Gopi Krishna, who did choreography in magnum opus like MUGHAL-E-AZAM and JHANAK JHANAK PAYAL BAJE and Kumudini Lakhia, a pioneer in contemporary Kathak dance. However, readers would be surprised to know that Rekha had no formal training in Kathak dance, which was the backbone of the movie during that era. The courtesan were well trained Kathak dancers, hence Rekha went through training to master her dance sequences. 

In an interview Rekha confided, ”In fact to be authentic in my dance movements, besides Gopi Krishnaji and Kumudini Lakhiaji, Muzaffar Ali had also invited many Nawabs of the bygone era, who were acquainted to the Mujaras. These nawabs were exclusively called to closely monitor my Kathak steps and many a times they guided me and came up with valuable suggestions thus making my dance standout.”

Rekha’s dynamic performance thus ideally won her the Best Actress National award. However readers would be stunned to know that same year Arpana Sen’s movie 36 CHOWRINGHEE LANE was also in race of awards. It had a splendid performance by Jennifer Kendall. Hence, there was a controversy over the award. Even actor Shashi Kapoor, husband of Jennifer Kendall had protested against Rekha winning the honor.

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However, what further may astonish the readers is that though Rekha won the National award but she was declined the Best Actress Filmfare award!! She lost the award to Smita Patil for her performance in CHAKRA, a film, which, probably many readers may be unaware!

 

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