In a long list of Bollywood actors and actresses, only a few have managed to maintain their lone range in the industry through the decades; one of them being the fabulous and iconic, Indian actress Bhanurekha Ganesan or popularly known by her stage name Rekha. Considered as one of the finest actresses, Rekha has worked in 180 Hindi films and earned various accolades including several Filmfare awards and one National Film award.

Whether it was her controversial roles in films, her fire-blazing personal affairs, her bold moves, her finesse beauty, or her iconic fashion sense, Rekha has managed to keep the industry and the world in her grasp even years after she stopped working in movies altogether.  

Born on the 10th of October as Bhanurekha Ganesan in Madras to South Indian actress Gemini Ganesan and Pushpavalli, Rekha’s childhood remains a troubled past. Her relationship with her father was civil as best as he did not want to recognize her as his daughter has had her in wedlock. Although years later in an interview Rekha mentioned that she never really saw her father, even saying that might not have even been aware of her existence altogether.  

Rekha’s debut into the world of cinema happened at the age of one when she played a minor role in the Telugu drama Intti Guttu. Admitting to having suffered from obesity, Rekha described that even though she grew passionate about dancing she never tried it in school due to her weight. 

In 1968, Rekha was suggested to start acting by Pushpavalli to support her family’s financial troubles. Even though she had no interest in acting, Rekha at the age of 13-14 dropped out of school to start a full-time career in acting. She later regretted not finishing her education and made sure her younger sister finished hers. 

Her first debut as the leading lady happened in the Kannada movie Operation Jackpot Nalli C.I.D 999 in 1969 and 1970 in the Hindi movie Sawan Bhadon. But each time she was overlooked due to her weight and looks. And even though her Hindi debut, Sawan Bhadon made her a rising star, due to the intense criticism, Rekha decide to work on her looks and her acting before she made a highly publicized transformation comeback.  

With a proper transformation, early recognition happened for Rekha in movies like Ghar and Muqqaddar Ka Sikandar. It was also the start of an intensely famous and successful period of Rekha’s life and the beginning of the iconic legend of Rekha. 

Rekha acted with most of the leading stars of the 1980s and 1990s. Some of her most famous films include Khubsurat (1980), Ek Hi Bhool (1981), Jeevan Dhara (1982), Agar Tum Na Hote (1983). During this time, Rekha also ventured into parallel cinema; a movement of neo-realist arthouse films, and did films like Kalyug (1981), Vijeta (1982), and her iconic movie Umrao Jaan (1981); a movie that won Rekha her National Film Award for Best Actress.  

Followed a slight downfall in her career, but Rekha came back stronger with the trend of woman-centric revenge films. Her 1988 superhit Khoon Bhari Maang got her second Best Actress Award at Filmfare. The subsequent years saw Rekha in less lead and more supporting roles. She was also scrutinized for some controversial character choices but her supporting roles in the 2000s were highly praised.  

Apart from acting Rekha has served as a member of the Rajya Sabha since 2002. Her private life and her public image have been the center of media interest throughout. Especially after her media-frenzied alleged romantic affair with fellow actor Amitabh Bachchan. Her on-screen pairing with Amitabh Bachchan resulted in several successful films but also the reason for intense dating rumors. The 1981 film Silsila was the last film of the stars together. Being extremely private about her life and refusing to give interviews about the same has made Rekha a bit of a recluse in the eyes of the media. A mystery through and through. 

Apart from her romance rumors with Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha got married once to a Delhi-based industrialist but her marriage ended with the demise of her late husband after he committed suicide seven months into their marriage.  

Rekha has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including three Filmfare Awards, and one National Film Award for Best Actress. In 2010, the government of India honored Rekha with the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honor.  

On Rekha’s birthday, Saregama wishes her a hearty birthday and celebrates her contribution to the Indian film industry.  

Now you can stream top Rekha’s songs on Saregama Carvaan. Saregama Carvaan is a portable digital audio speaker that comes with 5000 preloaded evergreen Hindi mp3 songs that you can enjoy anytime, anywhere without ad breaks or an internet connection. It also consists of other features like Bluetooth, FM/AM Radio, USB, and, AUX connectivity.   

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