Happy Birthday Rekha: A Look at Events That Shaped Her Life
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Bollywood actress Rekha, who turns 61 today, has been a part of more than 180 films. However, her journey so far hasn't been so easy.
Rekha started her Bollywood career as a child actress with Telugu movie Rangula Ratnam in 1966. Her first film as a lead actress was Sawan Bhadon (1970). For the initial few years of her career, Rekha was criticised for her looks. It was in the late 1970s that she went through a transformation and emerged as a sex symbol.
Rekha is the daughter of Telugu actress Pushpavalli and Tamil actor Gemini Ganesan. Her parents were not married and her father didn't acknowledge his paternity during her childhood days. She didn't dream of becoming an actress, but because of the financial state of her family, Rekha had to quit school and take up films.
During an interview Rekha said that because of her dark complexion and south Indian features she was considered an ugly duckling in Bollywood. However, she was determined to change people's perception about her and she did. She started choosing her films carefully. Do Anjaane (1976) was her first performance oriented film and her fans loved her in the new avatar.
Her 1978 film Ghar in which she played a rape victim, became an important milestone in her career. The film follows the struggle of a rape victim and how she recovers with the help of her loving husband played by Vinod Mehra. She received her first Filmfare best actress nomination for the same.
Rekha and Amitabh Bachchan starred together in many films. While their onscreen chemistry was working for their careers, their off screen bonding became a regular feature in the gossip columns. Rekha was highly criticised for being in a relationship with a married man.
Their alleged relationship ended in 1981. Their last film together was Yash Chopra's Silsila. Apart from Amitabh and Rekha, his wife Jaya Bachchan was also a part of the film.
Released in 1981, Rekha played the title role in Umrao Jaan. The actress, who couldn't speak Hindi properly in the beginning of her career, learnt Urdu for the film. Thanks to the songs and her brilliant acting, Umrao Jaan is considered as a major milestone in her career. She also won the National Film Award for Best Actress for it.
After the success of Umrao Jaan, Rekha featured in a lot of arthouse films. Films like Kalyug, Vijeta and Utsav further proved her acting abilities.
Rekha won her second Filmfare award for the film Khoon Bhari Maang. She is among the first few actresses who starred in the female oriented films. During an interview she said that the award gave her a kick and she considers it a turning point in her career.
In 1990, Rekha tied the knot with industrialist Mukesh Aggarwal. He committed suicide after a year of marriage; she was in the United States at that time. People close to her explain this as the toughest time of her life.
In the 1990s, actresses like Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi took centre stage, and Rekha slowly stepped aside. In this period she starred in films like 'Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love', Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi and others. She is mostly seen playing supporting characters now. She was last seen in Bollywood film Shamitabh (2015).