Rhea and Rekha: When the actresses were blamed for the suicide of the men in their lives

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Seeing the media trial that Bollywood actress Rhea Chakraborty is being subjected to over the last two months, many are reminded of a similar episode from the past. 30 years ago veteran actress Rekha was also put on trial by the media after the death of her husband in 1990.

Over the past few days, Rekha's story is doing the rounds on social media after actress Rhea was arrested by the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB).

The parallels between the story of two women are starkly similar. No one knew why their partners chose to end their lives, but everyone pointed fingers on the women in their lives.

Singer Chinmayi Sripada shared an Instagram post on Sunday--an excerpt from Rekha’s biography Rekha: The Untold Story by Yasser Usman. The biography details how Rekha was blamed for the suicide of her husband, Mukesh Aggarwal. She was called a witch by her in-laws and even disregarded by her Bollywood colleagues.

It read, “October 2, 1990, Mukesh, Rekha’s husband, decided to take away his life. He had hanged himself to the ceiling fan of his room, using his wife’s dupatta. Same Mukesh, who reportedly seemed happy on the fateful day, according to his brother Anil. Rekha came to know about Mukesh’s chronic depression after getting married.

 

WHAT FOLLOWED:

 

1. A national witchhunt followed. People all over the country starting hating and shaming her as a cold-hearted man-eater.

2. Mukesh’s mother’s wail made headlines when she cried, 'Woh daayan mere bete ko kha gayi. Bhagwan use kabhi maaf nahi karega.' That witch devoured my son. God will never forgive her.)3. Anil Gupta said, "My brother loved Rekha truly. For him love was a do or die attempt. He could not tolerate what Rekha was doing to him. Now what does she want, does she want our money?"4. Subhash Ghai said "Rekha has put such a blot on the face of the film industry that it’ll be difficult to wash it away easily. I think after this any respectable family will think twice before accepting any actress as their bahoo. It’’s going to be tough even professionally for her. No conscientious director will work with her ever again. How will the audience accept her as Bharat ki nari or insaf ki devi?"5. Anupam Kher said "She’s become the national vamp. Professionally and personally, I think it’s curtains for her. I mean I don’t know how will I react to her if I come face to face with her."6. The press lapped up the sensational story of Mukesh’s suicide and featured reports with outrageous headlines like 'The Black Widow' (Showtime, November 1990) and 'The Macabre Truth behind Mukesh’s Suicide' (Cine Blitz, November 1990). Delhi high society and Bombay’s film industry vociferously condemned Rekha for ‘murdering’ Mukesh Agarwal.1990-2020 : 30 years Similar cases, similar reactions. Still asking why is smashing the patriarchy and feminism relevant?"

Sharing it, Chinmayi wrote, “Subhash Ghai and Anupam Kher’s quotes, circa 1990 on Rekha if reported verbatim, is how some men are made.It is unbelievable how Rekha survived and thrived.”

Sushant Singh Rajput’s father filed an FIR against Rhea in July, accusing her of abetment to suicide. The case is currently being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation, the Enforcement Directorate, and the Narcotics Control Bureau. 

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