Rekha is probably among the most renowned and well-known personalities of Bollywood. With over 180 movies to her name, and a career spanning over 40 years, she is still recognized as the “Diva” of Bollywood. She is a Living Legend in true meanings, a style icon, an enigmatic beauty in its full form and the 70’s sex symbol. Rekha’s career path is full of success, turns, and controversies, but this vibrant personality has survived the test of all.
Rekha was introduced to the screen in her early years, but her first lead role debut was in a Kannada film Operation Jackpot Nalli C.I.D 999 in 1969, which turned out to be a success. But she did not rest there. In the same year, she gave her first appearance in a Hindi film Anjana Safar. Although this film faced censorship problem due to a kissing scene and the release was delayed until 1979.
“SawanBhadon” is considered her official debut in Bollywood. She had to learn Hindi for this film because it was not her mother tongue.”SawanBhadon” became a hit, sending Rekha’s reputation as an actor to the skies, but not completely for now.
In an interview, Rekha pointed out that she was regarded as the “Ugly Duckling” of Bollywood early in her career because she was dark skinned and chubby, which was quite against the perceived beauty standards of that time. She also stated that this image of her motivated her to go through a transformation and make it big on merit.
In the early 1980’s she won her first Best Actress award for the movie “
”. Her change in on-screen personality and role selection was widely recognized and her career prospects had begun to improve significantly.
She starred with the great Bachchan for the first time in the movie “Do Anjaane”, and proved to be a big turn for Rekha. After this, the duo gave back to back hits like “Mr. Natwarlal or “MuqaddarkaSikandar”. This phase of her life is filled with controversies of her and Mr. Bachchan’s love scandal, and let’s not forget the “
”, her most scandalous film, marking an end to the affair.
Rekha was awarded the National Film Award for Best Actress for her leading and highly applauded performance in “UmraoJaan” in 1981. She went on to take on several different kinds of roles. From a betrayed wife in “Ek Hi Bhool” to a young single breadwinner in “JeevanDhara”, from a Lawyer in “MujheInsaafChahiye” to a supporting mother in “
”, Rekha has pleased her critics every time.
After the 1990’s, Rekha suffered in her career. Critics noticed that she was still playing lead roles with younger stars, when most of her generation’s actresses were starring as older characters. In 1991, she played as a female Police Officer to avenge the death of her husband in “Phool Bane Angaray”. This movie lead other directors and film makers to offer her similar roles, which she did and got labeled as “Avenging Angel”. In mid 1990, she did a couple of more controversial movies like “Kama Sutra” and “Aastha”.
By 2000, her appearance on screen was significantly reduced. She turned to mostly mother roles and that of other elder women. With films such as “
” and a failure “
”, Rekha was coming towards the end of her career. In 2010, she was awarded the 4th highest civilian award, Padma Shri by the Indian Government.
After her long history of acting, it may be hard for her to let go, and is no surprise to us that she is still active in the industry.