Bhanurekha Ganesan, better known as “Rekha” was born on 10th October 1954 to tamil actor Gemini Ganesan and telugu actress Pushpavalli. Her father refused to help in her upbringing and her unmarried mother was forced to take up her responsibility solely. The child star who appeared in the Telugu film ‘Rangula Ratnam’(1966) was compelled to leave school and take up a career in acting at an early age due to financial constraints.
Her debut as a heroine left the audience spellbound in her successful Kannada film ‘Goa Dalli CID 999’ in 1969. However her next movie ‘Anjana Safar’ ran into a controversy because of the kissing scene in which Rekha claimed she was tricked into did not pass the censor board.
Acting was a forced rather than a desired profession for this actress who faced language problems in Hindi film industry because of her upbringing in Chennai. 1970 was the golden year which made her an instant star with her Bollywood debut ‘Saawan Bhadon’. Her looks still invited contempt and her roles were mostly restricted to that of a ‘glamour girl’.
Called the ‘Ugly Duckling’, Rekha was inspired to change her way of clothing and choice of roles after her commercially successful films ‘Raampur Ka Lakshman’(1972), ‘Kahaani Kismat Ki’(1973) and ‘Pran Jaaye Par Vachan Na Jaaye’(1974). She rigorously worked on her personality and acting abilities and the audience was stunned in the transformation in her movie ‘Do Anjaane’. Her first critic acclamation came with her performance in ‘Ghar’ where she portrayed the role of a rape victim in 1978. This was a stepping stone for this always young woman because she received the best actress Filmfare Award.
‘Muquaddar ka Sikandar’ too gave her the critic approval and set her in the category of the Most Successful Actress of that time. In 1980, she came across a role specially written for her in ‘Khoobsurat’ and played a young vivacious woman.
Rekha’s on screen and off screen romance with Actor Amitabh Bachchan was clearly evident but her off screen relationship with the actor was highly criticized due to his married status. Her last movie with her love ‘Silsila’ was the most scandalous of their films together and ended the much reproached relation. Her portrayal in ‘Umrao Jaan’ (1981) is considered to be one of her best acting performances. ‘Jeevan Dhara’ (1982) and ‘Muje Insaaf Chahiye’ (1982) gave her more Filmfare nominations. Wishing to expand her range, Rekha worked with independent directors, mostly under Shashi Kapoor’s production.
The adventurous and bold woman was one of those early actresses who played lead in ‘heroine-oriented’ films such as ‘Khoon Bhari Maang’. The 1990s saw a dip in her career with many unsuccessful films. She chose her roles with more care in the 2000s and appeared in fewer films.
The actress’s married life with Delhi based industrialist Mukesh Aggarwal was a brief one due to the suicide attempt of her husband. She did not marry again and chose to live alone in her Bandra house. The ninth greatest actress of all time is an ageless and timeless beauty.