New Delhi: Vivacious, sparkling and ravishing Rekha turns 56 today. The enigmatic actress started her career at the age of 12 and after 42 years of her Indian cine journey, she has become an icon and still has the power to captivate audiences by her charm and charisma.


Bhanurekha Ganeshan, better known by her stage name Rekha, made her debut in the cine world with Telegu film ‘Ranglu’ in 1966 as a child artist. After that she made her debut as a main lead actress in Kannnada film with Dr Rajkumar in 1970. She got recognition in Hindi film industry with ‘Sawan Bhado’. The film was a great hit and she became a star overnight.

The ugly duckling story of Rekha

Rekha made her debut in Bollywood with ‘Anjana Safar’ (later retitled Do Shikari). She later claimed that she was tricked into a kissing scene with the leading actor Biswajit for the overseas market, and the kiss made it to the Asian edition of Life magazine. The film ran into censorship problems and would not be released until a decade later.

Rekha, during her initial days in the film industry was called as ‘the ugly duckling of Indian cinema’, because of her dark complexion and south Indian features, but that didn’t create any kind of obstacle in her career. She kept on moving ahead and achieving accolades, for her roles and looks later on. Her first performance-oriented role came in 1976 when she played the role of an ambitious and greedy wife in Do Anjaane, co-starring Amitabh Bachchan. The film became a hit as well as got critical acclamation.

Her most significant turning point, however, came in 1978, with her portrayal of a rape victim in the movie Ghar. She played the role of Aarti, a newly married woman who gets gravely traumatised after being gang-raped. The film follows her character's struggle and recuperation with the help of her loving husband, played by Vinod Mehra. The film was considered her first notable milestone, and her performance was applauded by both critics and audiences.
She won the National Award in 1981 for her film ‘Umrao Jaan’.

Enigmatic personal life

Rekha married Delhi based businessman Mukesh Agarwal in 1990. But her husband committed suicide in 1991. With this began the misfortune in Rekha’s personal life. She was rumored to have been married to actor Vinod Mehra in 1973, but she denied the fact in her interview with Simi Garewal in 2004. She denied being married to Mehra and referred him as a well-wisher. Now Rekha lives in her Bandra home in Mumbai.

The charismatic personality and evergreen beauty still has a magical power to allure the audience. Turning 56 today, this Indian beauty can still give a tough competition to any of the young present day actresses. Wishing this scintillating beauty a very happy birthday from Jagran Post.
Magnificent performances and awards:

National Film Awards

1982: National Film Award for Best Actress, Umrao Jaan

Filmfare Award for Best Actress – Won

1981 Khubsoorat – Manju Dayal

1989 Khoon Bhari Maang – Aarti Verma

Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress – Won

1997 Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi – Maya

2003: Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award

Bengal Film Journalists' Association Awards

1989: BFJA Award for Best Actress (Hindi), Utsav.

Star Screen Awards

1997: Star Screen Award for Best Villain, Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi

Zee Cine Awards

2006: Zee Cine Award for Lifetime Achievement

2007: Zee Cine Awards - Forever Diva Award

Bollywood Movie Awards

2004: Bollywood Movie Award - Best Supporting Actress for Koi Mil Gaya

Other awards

2004: Maha Style Icon of the year.

 2005: Sony Golden Glory Award.

2006: Idea Zee F Awards - Fashionable Film Star.

2006: Stardust Awards - Role Model of the year.

2010: Stardust Awards - Stardust Editor's Choice Icon of the Industry.

Honours and recognitions

1998: U.P. award for Best Kathak Dancer in Hindi films.

2001: Mumbai Academy of the Moving Image, an award for her abiding contribution to Cinema.

2006: Deenanath Mangeshkar Award.

2007: Living Legend in the world of entertainment by FICCI.

2008: "IMPPA (Indian Motion Pictures' Producers Association) Award" for outstanding contribution to Bollywood.

2009: "Raj Kapoor Pratibha Gaurav Puraskar" by the Government of Maharastra for outstanding contribution to the Indian cinema.

2010: She was awarded the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour from the Government of India.

(Farhat Jabeen)