ENGLISH SUBTITLED DRAMATIC 'SILSILA'  SCENE supposedly projecting the off-screen ROMANTIC TRINE relationship between INDIAN SCREEN IDOL: AMITABH BACHCHAN and his real life wife JAYA BADHURI [red and black saree] and alleged on/off-screen MISTRESS: REKHA [white saree]. AMIT [played by BACHCHAN], SHOBHA [played by BADHURI] and CHANDINI [played by REKHA].
'SILSILA' FLOP to CULT
In 1981, 'SILSILA' used then NOVEL and OUTLANDISH PRODUCTION IDEAS:
- DIVINE LOCATIONS like TULIP GARDENS of THE NETHERLANDS and KASHMIR
- EUROPEAN RECORDING STUDIO and ENGINEERS
- REAL LIFE SCANDAL-to-CINEMA plot line
- TOP BILLING ACTORS
- MOST BEAUTIFUL ACTRESSES
- STUNNING MAKE UP and WARDROBE
- SUPERB POETRY and MUSIC DIRECTION
- The BEST of PLAYBACK SINGERS
- USE of INDIAN FOLK SONG and ACTORS SINGING
- DAZZLING LOVE SONG PICTURISATIONS that engrave the heart...
YET in 1981, INDIAN AUDIENCES made 'SILSILA' a FLOP of the year? Cinemas recorded poor ticket sales and repeat ticket sales? The film did make back its production costs but large profits were not recorded at home or abroad at the time of initial release.
HOWEVER, in later times 'SILSILA' became an absolute CULT CLASSIC MOVIE in the PSYCHE of INDIANS and made further profits from re-screening?
WHY DID 'SILSILA' FLOP?
- MAYBE so many entertaining films were being released made too much choice?
- MAYBE the film was too RADICAL in its ideas, like ADULTERY?
- MAYBE the INTERNATIONAL angle did not appeal to a then INSULAR INDIA?
- MAYBE audiences were weary after a decade of AMITABH-REKHA starrers?
- MAYBE the film was AHEAD OF ITS TIME beyond the ken of the audiences?
Most certainly, the peak of REKHA'S CAREER was certainly in 1980, playing the kidnapped teenager of MUGHAL INDIA who was trained as the PALACE DANCER: 'UMRAO JAAN'. The stunning KATHAK DANCES in MUSEUM COSTUMES portraying the trade in KIDNAPPED GIRLS-to-COURTESANS and the hidden inner life of the character, a BUTTERFLY of such BEAUTY, VOICE, DANCE and POETRY, who sings the story of her life, "I have travelled and never found my love. But I have seen so many things that I would never have seen. But my search for my love was in vain". The BEAUTY and TRAGEDY of 'UMRAO JAAN' was REKHA'S FINEST ACCOLADE. The FLOP of 'SILSILA' the following year, plus maybe discomfort or criticism of REKHA with regard to the alleged REAL-LIFE ADULTERY between AMITABH and REKHA may have contributed to REKHA'S gradual slide from fame in the 1980s. Of course, JEETENDRA'S 'NEW WAVE' films with SOUTH INDIAN HINDUISTIC/NATIONALISTIC THEMES took hold from 1982 onwards, further dislodging REKHA and AMITABH...The two NEVER APPEARED IN A FILM AGAIN AFTER 'SILSILA'...Another theory put forward about the demise of REKHA was that her ascent to maybe THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE WORLD, which she must have been at least near in the 1970s and 1980s, was a by-product of this alleged LOVE AFFAIR, or INFATUATION with BACHCHAN, commentators point out that after 'SILSILA' and the divide, REKHA'S COSMETIC BEAUTY REMAINED but somehow the INNER BEAUTY SEEMED TO FADE IN HER and an ALONE and RECLUSIVE REKHA emerged to this day?
THE MYSTERIOUS INDIAN STARS up to 1980
One of the devilishly delightful things about the DOLL-LIKE INDIAN STARS up to the 1970s was the fact that they were SO REMOTE. Like the 1950s stars of HOLLYWOOD...The HINDI FILM STARS were NEVER SEEN by the AUDIENCES in PUBLIC. Of course we read interviews with them in 'STARDUST' and 'MOVIE' covered by immaculate and implausible photographs of them on screen which hightened their ELUSIVE SUPERHUMAN status for the imagination. BUT HINDI STARS KEPT OUT OF THE PUBLIC EYE...AND IT WORKED! We were fascinated by the fact that we never heard them speak or do any medocre act.
REKHA herself was excellent at this. She gave many opportunities for PHOTOGRAPHS at official openings or on the sets. The PHOTOGRAPHS were obviously CONTROLLED and SELECTED for publication by the STUDIO and ACTRESS. REKHA also had a selection of incredible CLASSICAL PHOTO SHOOTS done for SAREE COMPANIES in the 1980s that were works of art, divine and of course UNREAL. All of this promoted the MAGICAL INDIAN FILM STARS...
1981: THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF THE INDIAN STAR?
THE NETHERLANDS song shoot brought the 'SILSILA' crew and ACTORS to EUROPE... This was the first time the 'MAGICAL' HINDI STARS seemed to have done this. One venue was WEMBLY in LONDON where a huge crowd turned out in 1981 to see and photograph their 'beloved' GODS... This, however damaged the 'MAGICAL' STATUS of its stars. FILM MAGAZINES displayed an array of WEMBLY photos...but what we could see were ORDINARY PEOPLE.REKHA appeared to have little make up on, was a tiny and quite burnished woman [REKHA always appeared PALE like a HINDU GODDESS]. Her hair was scraped back severely into a bun as it was windy. She had on a large plastic sunglasses and was lost among the crowd of other crew waving in the wind of grey London...THE DREAM SHATTERED