The National Film Award Winning actress Rekha needs no introduction. Popularly called the Lady Amitabh of Bollywood, Rekha was born as Bhanurekha Ganesan on 10th October, 1954 in Chennai. Rekha’s father Gemini Ganeshan is a renowned Tamil actor while mother Pushpavalli is a notable Telugu actress.
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Since her parents were not married, Rekha only revealed her origins when she was trying to make her mark in Bollywood. However in an interview she confessed that her father did not acknowledge his paternity while she was a kid and it still infuriated her.
Prior to joining bollywood, the dusky actress was considerably plump and could not converse in Hindi; however she followed her passion for Hindi cinema and gave up all her drawbacks to make a name for herself in the tinsel town.
Rekha first appeared in a Telugu film ‘Rangula Ratnam’ at a tender age of twelve. She later played the lead role in successful 1969 release Kannada film ‘Goadalli CID 999’ opposite Dr. Rajkumar. Rekha later worked in the controversial film ‘Anjana Safar’ that was renamed to ‘Do Shikari’ that was caught in serious censorship problems due to an offensive kissing scene. Rekha’s first Bollywood release was the super hit ‘Sawan Bhadon’ and Rekha became a well known face. Despite starring in a number of commercially successful films like ‘Kahani Kismat Ki’, ‘Raampur Ka Lakshman’ and ‘Pran Jaaye Par Vachan Na Jaaye’, Rekha could not get enough appreciation for her acting skills.
Rekha’s pioneering performances were seen in the late seventies when she appeared in commercially as well as critically successful films like ‘Do Anjaane’ and ‘Muqaddar Ka Sikander’ opposite Amitabh Bachchan and ‘Ghar’ opposite Vinod Mehra. Rekha won her first Filmfare Best Actress Nomination for ‘Ghar’ and Best Supporting Actress nomination for ‘Muqaddar Ka Sikander’.
Rekha and Amitabh Bachchan again appeared together in Yash Chopra’s Romantic hit ‘Silsila’ also starring Amitabh’s real life wife Jaya Bachchan. Her National Award winning performance was seen in 1981 release ‘Umrao Jaan’. After a stint of successful commercial cinema, Rekha plunged into parallel films like Shyam Benegal's award-winning drama, ‘Kalyug’; Ramesh Talwar's ‘Baseraa’, ‘Jeevan Dhaara’, ‘Utsav’ and ‘Ijaazat’.
Rekha won Filmfare Best Actress Awards for her phenomenal performances in women centric films like ‘Khoobsurat’ and ‘Khoon Bhari Maang’. Her calibre and charisma won over the critics and audiences and she was named among the most versatile Indian actors ever.
During the nineties, Rekha’s success graph witnessed a gradual fall. However she appeared in the critically acclaimed foreign film ‘Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love’ directed by Mira Nair. The controversial film portrayed Rekha in the role of a Kama Sutra teacher. Rekha was seen in a negative role in 1996 release ‘Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi’ alongside Akshay Kumar and Raveena Tandon. The film became a commercial success and Rekha received Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award and the Star Screen Award for Best Villain.
Rekha has worked in supporting roles in a number of films in last few years, including Rajkumar Santoshi's ‘Lajja’, Shyam Benegal's ‘Zubeidaa’, Kundan Shah's ‘Dil Hai Tumhaara’, Rakesh Roshan's ‘Koi...Mil Gaya’ and ‘Krrish’.
Rekha got married to businessman Mukesh Aggarwal in the year 1990; however he committed suicide after a year of their marriage. Rekha was also rumoured to have married co-actor Vinod Mehra in 1973 but Rekha denied such news during an interview on ‘Rendezvous with Simi Garewal’. Rekha was also romantically involved with Amitabh Bachchan and the film ‘Silsila’ was supposedly based on their real life. Rekha currently lives in her Bandra home with her secretary Farzana.
Besides a several Filmfare and Star Screen Awards, Rekha was honoured by the Government of India with Padma Shri, the 4th highest civilian award in the year 2010 and Raj Kapoor Pratibha Gaurav Puraskar by the Government of Maharashtra in 2009.