Bollywood's 'Umrao Jaan' Rekha, turns 58 today
From Bollywood to Rajya Sabha, Rekha who metamorphosed from an overweight, dark South Indian girl, always critised for her looks, to an ageless diva, who continues to inspire young actresses from her charm and elegance, turns 58 today.
Born as Banurekha Ganeshan, Rekha is the illegitimate daughter of Tamil actor Gemini Ganesan and Telugu actress Pushpavalli. Rekha had a troubled childhood beacuse she was never acknowledged by Gemini as his daughter. She had to drop out of school and start work at an early age of 12, to support her family financially.
Rekha started her career with a Telugu film, 'Rangula Ratnam' in 1966 as a child artist. In 1969, she landed a role in a Bollywood film, 'Anjana Safar', opposite Biswajit but the film was released with a different name, 'Do Shikaari', in 1979.
But it was in 1970 that , Rekha got noticed after appearing in 'Saawan Bhadon'. The success of the film was of no help for Rekha who was constantly being critised for her looks and poor Hindi language skills.
Struggling Rekha worked day and night on her looks, acting skills and was back with a bang speaking fluent Hindi. The enigmatic beauty of Bollywood has always impressed audience and critics from her power-packed performance in films like - 'Namak Haraam', 'Do Anjaane', 'Muqaddar Ka Sikander', 'Silsila', 'Umrao Jaan', 'Khoon Bhari Maang', 'Biwi Ho To Aisi', 'Zubeidaa' and 'Koi... Mil Gaya' series.
Till date Rekha has won many awards, including the prestigious National Award for Best Actress for 'Umrao Jaan', where she played a courtesan, ''Umrao Jaan' in the film.
Apart from her films that kept Rekha in limelight, it was her personal life that was under constant media scrutiny. A very private person in real life, Rekha was reported to have secretly married actor Vinod Mehra, which was later denied by her in an interview. She was also linked with Shatrughan Sinha for a brief perioed, but it was her highly famous affair with megastar of Bollywood, Amitabh Bachchan, that is still remembered.
Rekha who fell in love with married Big B was last seen opposite him in film, 'Silsila', where she played the other woman in his life after which, they were never seen opposite each other on the silver screen.
Lonely Rekha then married businessman Mukesh Aggarwal, who committed suicide within one year of marriage. Since then, Rekha has been staying all alone in her home in Mumbai.
She makes regular public appearances during award functions and is currently working as a Rajya Sabha MP as well.
Here's wishing the epitome of femininity a very Happy Birthday. (Written by Lovely Mehrotra)