For internet users, Quora is the go-to site to get their questions answered and gain information on any subject. This question-and-answer site sees people seeking clarifications on any issue and their queries are answered, edited and organised by its community of answer. Recently, journalist and blogger Soumyadipta Banerjee received an invitation on Twitter from a friend to answer a question that has been on the minds of millions of people – How does actress Rekha manage to maintain herself so impeccably when most other actresses are struggling and complaining about the pay structures in Bollywood. Here is his answer and it makes for a hell of an interesting read!
Well, it's time for me lift the veil.
I have interacted with Rekha briefly and I have blogged about her as well. Many years back, around the last quarter of 2008, when I was an active journalist, I wanted to interview her from regarding a news-lead that I was following. It lead me to interesting experiences.
Rekha’s guard at her Bandra Bungalow finally didn’t let me in her house despite me showing my press card. I blogged about that experience many years later in 2013. In the same year, I blogged[ about Rekha’s private life as many were interested about knowing what she does in her bungalow behind those high walls.
Here is the picture of Rekha’s sea-facing bungalow, which is just beside Farhan Akhtar’s bungalow and a stone’s throw distance away from Mannat, Shah Rukh Khan’s abode. The location of Rekha’s gorgeous house is the best among all in the vicinity.
Take a look.
Rekha's bungalow in Bandra, Mumbai, behind the foliage
For those who are asking, my persistence paid off. Rekha finally granted me an interview (in 2009) where she admitted that she was writing a tell-all memoir. She was gracious enough to give me some details.
Here’s an interesting anecdote about her.
Rekha never picks up her mobile. There’s a landline number that we (journalists) have. There are two landlines in fact but there’s one landline that we were told is in her library.
If you call that landline, a little girl picks up. She is about seven or eight years old. She will ask in a very cute voice, “Why do you want to speak to her, Uncle? Please tell me in detail.” If you explain in detail and she is satisfied with the answer, Rekha will come online. In some cases, she rings up the journalist and passes on the phone to Rekha.
It took me almost five years to learn from veteran journalists that both voices belong to the same lady. The lady is Bhanurekha Ganesan!
The little girl is her alter-ego. Read this part, while I go on to answer the main question.
HOW DOES SHE EARN MONEY
First let me talk about the assumption that Rekha (or for that matter any guest) gets paid for appearing in reality or comedy shows like The Kapil Sharma Show, Indian Idol etc.
I am sorry to inform you that the guests there are not paid by either the channel or the producers. The actresses who come on these comedy or reality shows, come to promote a film or a cause (in some cases). In Bollywood, free publicity is considered a payment (in kind), so none of the actors and actresses who come on reality shows, get paid. They do it for free and take advantage for the publicity that comes with it.So, there’s no income source there.
Now we arrive at the core question. Where does she earn from. I will answer from my own reporter records as Rekha has given some sketchy details about the book she is writing. And from what I have observed about her.
REKHA’S INCOME SOURCES:
1. Properties: Rekha and her family own some properties in Mumbai and down south and some of them have been put on rent. She gets her share of the rent.
2. Films: She gets paid handsomely even today, if she signs a film. Rekha does approximately one film a year. Her last film was in 2015. Two films are under production. If you are wondering of that is enough then let me tell you, even Aamir Khan doesn’t do films every year.
3. Brand endorsement: Rekha doesn’t shoot for brand ads but she gets paid for her endorsements. Rekha endorses brands from time to time. Letting people use her face on billboards and/or just getting still photo-shoots done, is also endorsement. Interestingly, a few years ago, the Bihar government was after her to rope her in as the Brand Ambassador of Bihar. Here’s an old picture of Rekha endorsing Gold Spot.
4. Fixed Deposits: Rekha has told me that she is thrifty spender and she has been careful enough to save the money that she used to earn when she was at the peak of her career. Remember that she was the number one heroine in India for many years. She came from a very normal middle-class family and like any middle-class family she has invested a part of her income in bank deposits.
5. Thrifty spender: Money saved is money earned. Rekha has herself told me that she believes in the middle-class Indian values and doesn’t squander her money. So, you will never see Rekha wearing the latest designer clothes, buying the latest cars, going on expensive foreign tours (her appearances at award shows are fully paid for) or anything else that a heroine usually gorges on. Rekha doesn’t spend on anything else other than her personal needs.
6. Old and loyal staff: Her driver and her watchman have been with her for decades now. Her secretary Farzana lives with her and always follows her like a shadow. Below is her picture with Rekha. What I mean to say that she doesn’t spend much on maintaining an entourage as well. So, as you see, it’s the most basic expenses that she maintains.
7. Rajya Sabha Member: Rekha is a current member of the Rajya Sabha (nominated). She will at the Parliament till 26th April, 2018. She’s paid and entitled to perks as Rajya Sabha member too. Her low attendance and high salary had generated quite a controversy in Delhi.
8. Gifts etc: Most of the sarees that she wears were gifted to her and some of them belong to her old collection. I am mentioning this again because most Bollywood heroines spend a fortune on their clothes. Rekha doesn’t need to.
9. Appearance money for TV shows: However there are shows on television programmes which do offer money for appearances. Rekha gets paid when she decides to appear at their programmes.
10. Ribbon cutting and other private events: When rich industrialists hold a public event, like say, launching their business ,they pay huge money to stars to do the honours. A star can easily run her kitchen with only these events. Stars are also paid to attend private ceremonies like birthday parties and marriages. Rekha is in huge demand because most industrialists have grown up watching her as an actress and idolise her.
So, as you can see, Rekha easily earns the required money that she needs. She is still a big brand and she has spent a lifetime to reach where she is today. God bless her always!