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Bhanurekha Ganesan, who was born on the 10th of October, in the year 1954, is one the most talented actresses the Indian cinema has ever had.  More renowned as Rekha, which is her stage name, she is popular for the versatility in her acting, and has featured in a large number of movies, mostly Hindi. Rekha started her acting career at the age of 12, as a child artist in a Telugu movie by the name Rangula Ratnam, in the year 1966. Four years later, in the year 1970, she made her Bollywood debut in the movie Sawan Bhadon, as the lead.  In spite of the fact that many of her earlier films were successful, she was very often criticized, especially for her looks. It was only in the later half of the 1970s, when she underwent a physical transformation that she was recognized as an actress, that is, in the true sense of the word. And since then she has become a representation of the sex symbol in Bollywood.

Rekha’s acting career spans over a time period of about 40 years, throughout which she has worked in more than one hundred and eighty movies. In almost all the movies she has featured in, she has played characters with immense strength. She has been a major part of not only the commercial cinema, but has also appeared in art house movies, popularly called the parallel cinema in India. She has been the recipient of three Filmfare Awards. Two of them were for Best Actress, in the movies Khubsoorat and Khoon Bhari Maang, and the third one for the Actress in a Supporting Role, for the movie Khiladiyon ka Khiladi.

She won the National Film Award for Best Actress, for her classical depiction of a courtesan in the movie Umrao Jaan, in the year 1981. Despite the fact that her acting career has gone through several periods of recession, she is known for her immense ability of reinventing herself every time she falls and her ability to maintain a consistency in her status. 

Early Life

Born in Madras (now Chennai), to Gemini Ganesan, the Tamil actor and Pushpavalli, the Telugu actress, Rekha had to follow the footsteps of her father, who was considerably successful in the field of acting. Rekha unfortunately did not have a very blissful childhood, largely because of the neglecting behavior of her father towards her. Her father’s behavior was usually explained by the fact that her parents were not married when she was born. In one of the interviews, during the successful years of her career, she had revealed that her father’s neglect still rankled her, and therefore she refused to respond to all the efforts made by her father in order to reconcile with her. She also stated that on a personal level, she did not have any dreams and desires that revolved around the career of acting. In fact she was compelled to drop her education, and take up the acting career in order to fend for her family, which was not in a very good economic condition.

Personal Life

Rekha was married to an industrialist residing in Delhi, by the name Mukesh Aggarwal, in the year 1990. This man was reported to have committed suicide the following year, while the actress was away in the States. He left a note which stated that he did not have anyone to blame. The actress, very expectedly, was ridiculed and humiliated by the media and press. This period, as one of the reporters then called it, was one of those immeasurable depths in her life.

One among the many rumors in her life is said that she had tied the knot with the actor Vinod Mehra, in the year 1973, were clearly denied by her in an interview with Simi Garewal, which was aired on television. Rekha referred to Vinod Mehra as being merely a well-wisher. Presently the actress resides in her home in Bandra in Mumbai.

Professional Career

Starting off as a child artist, in the Telugu movie, Rangula Ratnam (1966), Rekha made her acting debut in the Kannada movie by the name Goa dalli CID 999 (1969), where she acted opposite Rajkumar. Later in the very same year, she started shooting for her first Hindi movie called Anjaana Safar, starring opposite the lead actor Biswajit.  Due to certain censorship issues, the release date of the movie was postponed by about a decade’s time, finally releasing in the year 1979. It was renamed as Do Shikaari. Therefore, Sawan Bhadon, which released in the year 1970, became her Bollywood debut. The success of the movie brought Rekha in limelight overnight. She was a star. Some of her films that came out in the following years were Raampur ka Lakshman, Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye, and Kahaani Kismat Ki.

Rekha’s acting career took a huge leap with the movie Ghar, in 1978, for which she was given the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. Then, followed Muqaddar ka Sikander, which remained one of the blockbuster hits for the next ten years. In the 1980s, she appeared in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s comedy by the name Khoobsurat and earned her very first award for Best Actress. She also featured in Silsila, Umrao Jaan, Basera, Ek Hi Bhool, Jeevan Dhara and Mujhe Insaaf Chahiye. Some of her art house works would include Kalyug, Vijeta, Utsav and Ijaazat. Khoon Bhari Maang was another of her award winning movies. The 1990s had movies like Kama Sutra: a Tale of Love, and Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi.

In 2000, she started off with Bulandi, and Lajja, followed by Koi..Mil Gaya. Other movies in the decade include Bachke Rehna Re Baba and Kudiyon Ka Hai Zamana. She again appeared in Krrish, the sequel to Koi..Mil Gaya. Later this decade, in 2007, she appeared in the role of a courtesan in the movie Yatra. The government awarded the actress with the Padma Shri, in the year 2010.


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