No one said it would be easy, but Rekha has handled her life in Bollywood extremely well. She may have her regular ups and downs, but she always manages to rise again, and that is the essence of Rekha, the phoenix.
Rekha, born Bhanurekha Ganesan, started young in the film industry. She started off as a child actor in Telugu and Kannada films. But in less than five years, Rekha made her debut in Hindi films with 1970’s ‘Sawan Bhadon’.
The film was a hit and Rekha became an overnight success, yet she spent the next few years doing roles that were not of much substance. She initially came to be tagged as the glamour girl, but Rekha wanted to “make it big in sheer merit”.
Her role in ‘Do Anjaane’ opposite Amitabh Bachchan earned her a lot of credit, it also started her onscreen relationship with Amitabh Bachchan – a famous and much in demand onscreen pair. The awards were calling at her doorstep too with her first nomination for Best Actress coming a couple years later for her role in ‘Ghar’.
Rekha then won her first Best Actress award in 1980 for her role in the Hrishikesh Mukherjee comedy ‘Khubsoorat’. She even went on to win the National Award for Best Actress for ‘Umrao Jaan’ two years later which is generally considered to be her best performance.
But in the middle, she also acted in ‘Silsila’ which was her last film with Amitabh Bachchan. Their alleged offscreen closeness had caused a lot of issues and since then the two have never acted together again.
Awards and popularity were not everything that Rekha was craving for. With that intact, she started acting in more parallel cinema, such as ‘Kalyug’, ‘Vijeta’ and ‘Ijaazat’. She reached the pinnacle of her success with ‘Khoon Bhari Maang’ in 1988, and then there was a drop in the Nineties.
But Rekha the phoenix returned in 2000, first with ‘Lajja’ and then with quite a sizable role in ‘Koi… Mil Gaya’, which has eventually extended into the ‘Krrish’ series. The actress has been able to successfully reinvent, not once but many times, and she will keep on doing it.
No wonder then that the Government of India awarded Rekha the Padma Shri in 2010 – the fourth highest civilian award. Rekha is truly a national treasure and on her 59th birthday, we wish her even more success ahead.