Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha were said to be a golden couple of Hindi cinema. Such is their popularity even now that if someone was to cast them together, that person would have an instant hit on his hands. Some people naturally have great chemistry together and Amitabh and Rekha are a prime example of that. They have to just be in a frame together to set the screen on fire. The way they looked at each other on camera exuded love. It was nothing but pure screen magic that made them a favourite of the masses. But it wasn’t just their charisma that set their pairing apart. They are top class actors as well and made acting look easy when they were together. You simply couldn’t take your eyes off them. They were a made for each other on-screen couple and it’s hard to find a modern parallel to them. Presenting a list of films where Amitabh Bachchan and Rekha brought magic to the silver screen.
Do Anjaane (1976)
Director: Dulal Guha
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha, Prem Chopra, Utpal Dutt
The film is based on the story Rater Gari by Nihar Ranjan Gupta. It’s one of the first movies Amitabh and Rekha worked together on. The story throws light on ambition, greed and revenge. Rakha and Amitabh both play middle-class lovers who get married and have a blissful life. But the entry of Amitabh’s rich friend, played by Prem Chopra, changes everything. Influenced by him, Rekha veers towards the finer things in life, which Amit can’t provide. He’s presumed killed in an accident and is adopted by a rich couple. He comes back in disguise and exacts his revenge. Amitabh and Rekha’s chemistry in the film was simply awesome, to say the least. The film also stars a young Mithun Chakraborty in a brief cameo.
Director: Hrishikesh Mukherjee
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha, Asrani, Farida Jalal, Om Prakash
The unsuccessful Hrishikesh Mukherjee-Big B collaboration oozed despondency and despair. Big B was utterly credible as a hotshot lawyer’s son who prefers to spend time with a classical singer rather than practising his father’s craft. How far would you go while pursuing a dream? It’s a story of one man’s passion for music and living a life he desires at the cost of losing everything. The music is phenomenal and the acting equally brilliant. It has gems like Chand akela and Koi gaata main so jata sung by Yesudas. Jaidev gave the music.
Khoon Pasina (1977)
Director: Rakesh Kumar
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, Rekha, Nirupa Roy, Asrani, Aruna Irani, Bharat Bhushan and Kader Khan.
This was a Western pared down to suit Indian sensibilities. It had the look and the feel of a Sergio Leone film. But unlike Leone’s films, it lacked a genuine screenplay and relied more on the macho personalities of the two leads than on actual storytelling. While Amitabh Bachchan was called Tiger, Vinod Khanna was called Shera in the film. Going by their names itself one can make out it’s a film which will have them bashing twenty guys without breaking sweat. Both Bachchan and Khanna play tough guys with golden hearts. Rekha plays Amitabh’s love interest in the film and is shown to be a tough as nails girl with a mind of her own. Khanna had a very different look in the film, heavily influenced by Dr Zhivago and made him look like a Russian. He had that personality to carry off the blond colour and looked dashing while doing so. Strangely, he doesn’t have a female lead in the film, an oddity, given Bollywood’s penchant for pairings.
Ganga Ki Saugandh (1978)
Director: Sultan Ahmed
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha, Amjad Khan
Sultan Ahmed loved to make dacoit films and this film is a prime example of that. Ganga Ki Saugandh has the typical storyline of an individual who is thrown out of his village for going against the powerful and corrupt landlord of the area. He becomes a dacoit and decides to take revenge against the landlord who was also responsible for his mother’s death. Amitabh Bachchan does a good job as the innocent and naive Jeeva and his transformation to a dacoit is well executed. Rekha plays the woman who loves him and stands with him through thick and thin. It was a one of a kind role for Amitabh, who executed it quite well. It’s a little-known gem that’s certainly worth a rewatch.
Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978)
Director: Prakash Mehra
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, Rekha, Raakhee
Devdas as seen in our films was an alcoholic loser but director Prakash Mehra conceived him as this street-smart guy who lives life on his own terms. He wasn’t a loser but a winner – Sikandar – the archetypical winner who never lost. Yes, he does drink a lot, yes, he does pine for unrequited love and frequents a kotha but does it all with a winner’s swagger. And he’s willing to shed blood for friendship as well. You sympathise with his struggle but in the end what you take home is the memory of him riding his bike singing Rote hue aate hain sab, hasta hua jo jayega. Rekha played a courtesan in the film, who sacrifices her love for Sikandar for his own betterment. Vinod Khanna played his best friend and the man loved by Raakhee. It was Amitabh’s and Vinod’s last film as co-stars. The song Salaam-e-ishq meri jaan sung by Kishore Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar and picturised on Amitabh and Rekha has achieved cult status.
Mr. Natwarlal (1979)
Director: Rakesh Kumar
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha, Ajit, Kader Khan, Amjad Khan
It’s a melodramatic revenge flick containing some great comedy and action. And has one of the best picturised romantic songs Pardesia, featuring Amitabh and Rekha. Another song, Mere paas aao, has Amitabh taking to the mike the first time as a singer. Natwar is a young boy, when his beloved older brother police officer Gridharilal (Ajit), is framed for bribery by criminal mastermind Vikram (Amjad Khan). When he grows up, Natwar (Amitabh Bachchan) creates a secret identity for himself to exact vengeance on Vikram. The scenes between Natwar and Shanno (Rekha) and Amitabh and Ajit were the soul of this action-comedy.
Director: Manmohan Desai
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Kapoor, Rekha, Parveen Babi, Amjad Khan, Nirupa Roy
Manmohan Desai liked to reuse his masala tropes so much that you got over-familiar with them. Take Suhaag for instance. It had everything from long lost brothers to missing parents and drunk actors and scenes glorifying God’s awesomeness. Shashi Kapoor plays a good inspector who at first fights with his outlaw brother — who reforms and becomes an inspector when the good brother becomes blind. Whew! Shashi played it all with a game face and even his delight at having gotten his eyes back – thanks to the dying wish of his evil father – is super genuine. Rekha plays a girl who has to become a courtesan to bring up her younger sister. Rekha and Amitabh’s Navratri song O sherawali, sung by Asha Bhosle and Mohammed Rafi is still played at festivals. Teri rab ne bana di jodi was shot at London’s Hyde Park and created a sensation.
Ram Balram (1980)
Director: Vijay Anand
Cast: Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachchan, Zeenat Aman, Rekha, Amjad Khan, Ajit, Prem Chopra
The film was a psychological thriller directed by Vijay Anand. Ajit brings up Ram (Dharmendra) and Balram (Amitabh Bachchan) in such a way that they are in constant fear of him even as grown-ups. While Balram is a police inspector, Ram becomes a smuggler but is Balram’s informer in disguise. Balram earns huge awards after his many successful raids by that money is taken up by their uncle. Later, when their mother, who was presumed dead, comes back into their lives, the brothers come to know that it was their uncle who was responsible for all the hardships that befell them and unite to exact revenge. Rekha played Amitabh’s love interest in the film and lends able support.
Director: Yash Chopra
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha, Jaya Bachchan, Sanjeev Kumar, Shashi Kapoor
Silsila was the most mature film perhaps directed by Yash Chopra which took on the taboo subject of extra-marital relationships by the horns. However, the volatile real-life pairing – Amitabh and Rekha were said to be in a relationship at the time – didn’t work and the film bombed at the box-office but is considered a cult classic ever since. Strangely, it’s said that Rekha and Jaya weren’t the original choices in the film. Yash Chopra had cast Parveen Babi and Smita Patil but changed them at the last minute. Perhaps the film’s fate would have been different if the original casting was intact. It was the last film where Amitabh and Rekha acted together. The film was liberating in the sense that it truly showed how love makes fools of us all. That you tend to cross all boundaries when it comes to matters of the heart. And that love isn’t platonic and has a physical side as well. The film had immortal songs like Dekha ek khwab, Yeh kahan aa gaye hum, and the evergreen Holi song, Rang barse.