One of the finest actresses in Hindi cinema, Rekha started her career in 1966 as a child actress in the Telugu film ‘Rangula Ratnam’, which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu for that year, though her film debut as a lead happened four years later with ‘Sawan Bhadon’ in 1970. Rekha has acted in over 180 films in her career spanning over 40 years.

For the initial few years of her career, Rekha was criticized for her looks. It was in the late 1970s when she went through a major physical transformation - from a dusky village belle to a glamorous diva. During an interview, Rekha mentioned that because of her dark complexion and south Indian features she was tagged as an ugly duckling in Bollywood.

However, all the criticism was enough to motivate her; she was determined to change people's perception about her. She started choosing her films carefully. 'Do Anjaane' was her first performance oriented film and her fans loved her in the new avatar. Throughout her career, she has played strong female character and was one of the few actresses of her time who dared to take up roles in films that were considered a part of parallel cinema.

The most significant turning point in her life came with Manik Chatterjee’s film 'Ghar' in 1978, in which she played a rape victim. The film follows the struggle of a rape victim and how she recovers with the help of her loving husband played by Vinod Mehra. She received her first Filmfare best actress nomination for the same.

Talking about her link-up, Rekha and Amitabh Bachchan’s much-talked about love story always remained a mystery as both the actors never accepted it in public.  It is said to have begun on the sets of ‘Do Anjaane’, ironically that's what they've become to each other now. Silsila was Amitabh and Rekha's last film together. It is believed that the real life story was shot in reel and it was sort of a coup for Yash Chopra who managed the casting of Amitabh, Jaya and Rekha.

In an exclusive interview, Yash Chopra had revealed about this love affair. He admitted that the affair was definitely going strong before they began filming Silsila, which co-incidentally mirrored the real life drama. Chopra said, "I was always on tenterhooks and scared (during Silsila) because it was real life coming into reel life. Jaya is his wife and Rekha is his girlfriend and the same story is going on (in real life). Anything could have happened because they are working together."

In the realm of Bollywood, this is one love story which is still as enigmatic as it was during its inception. The heavy aura of a deep story untold still lingers.

Rekha has been the heartthrob of millions, a sizzling persona admired by thousands, a dancing diva sweeping several off their feet with her sensuous moves, a divine beauty that remains inimitable even at the age of 59. As she moves with her elegant silhouette, sophistication and class oozing out of her ethereal aura, she still makes young actresses of the present day go green with envy; her beauty emulating resplendence all over.

Jagran Post wishes the evergreen beauty of Bollywood a very happy birthday!


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