Veteran actor Bhanurekha Ganesan, popularly known as Rekha, turns 69 today. The timeless diva has been captivating her audience for decades now. Having started her career as a child actor, she is a recipient of a National Film Award, a Padma Shri, and several other awards.
Throughout her career, Rekha was brutally trolled by the film industry for challenging the prevailing beauty norms with her dusky complexion, but the resilient actor went on to become one of the most glamorous and sought-after actresses. While her life was marred with tragedy & public ridicule, she continued setting benchmarks in her professional life. Having worked in over 180 films, Rekha is known for her versatility and incredible range, effectively balancing both offbeat de-glamourous characters and negative camp characters.
The best of Rekha's films cannot be narrowed down to a small list. However, as the actor turns 69 today, we share some of her most evergreen films.
Rekha Birthday: Six Best Films Of Glamour Queen
Hrishikesh Mukherjee's films are often composed of blithe perspectives about society and its workings. In Khubsoorat, Rekha plays the role of the incorrigible do-gooder who takes on her sister’s disciplinarian mother-in-law (Dina Pathak). The matriarch's regimented household is upended by the arrival of carefree, spunky Manu.
The movie, helmed by director Manik Chatterjee, featured Vinod Mehra and Rekha as the main characters. It centred on a newlywed couple grappling with the aftermath of a sexual assault. Rekha's performance in the film was particularly noteworthy, and it was subsequently adapted into Tamil and Malayalam versions.
Umrao Jaan (1981)
Rekha was a sheer delight on screen as the Lucknowi courtesan whose adventurous life is defined and defiled by the various men she encounters in Muzaffar Ali-directed Umrao Jaan. Her performance fetched her a National Award for Best Actress.
A still from Silsila
This Yash Chopra directorial pulled off something of a casting coup - Rekha, Amitabh, and Jaya Bachchan. Silsila created a buzz because the offline dynamics of the trio were rumoured to be not too different from the onscreen love triangle. Rekha played Chandni a stunning woman with an impeccable dressing sense in love with a married man (Amitabh Bachchan). The film also featured Sanjeev Kumar and Shashi Kapoor in crucial roles.
Chiffon sarees, poetic love scenes, passionate dialogue delivery, and moving performances from the leads make Silsila a forever classic. Despite the hype around the film, it was a box-office disaster but is fondly remembered for its foot-tapping songs, particularly Rang Barse Bheege Chunarwali.
Khoon Bhari Maang (1988)
Directed by Rakesh Roshan, Khoon Bhari Maang is nothing short of a guilty pleasure. An unofficial adaptation of the Australian TV series Return to Eden, this ‘80s potboiler has become something of a cult classic over the years. From Rekha’s heavily donned camp look, her makeover, her zest for revenge, and an enthusiastic crocodile… this movie genuinely had it all. Her switch from the gullible and lovestruck Aarti to the calculating Jyoti driven by a desire for revenge from her husband proves that she was a true hero carrying the weight of the film who relentlessly wowed in each avatar.
Rekha in a still from Ijaazat
In Gulzar's film Ijaazat, Naseeruddin Shah and Rekha's portrayal of a divorced couple is more loving, poetic and honest. An unconventional love story, the film featured Rekha at her restrained best in the role of a wife who allows her husband to return to his first love. The film also featured one of the most beautiful breakup songs ever to be made, ‘">Mera kuch saaman’, a song that till today continues to be a poetic missive to love, regret and the power of memory.
Suggested Reading: Rekha’s biography unravels the enigma