Bhanurekha Ganesan better known by her stage name Rekha born on 10 October 1954 in Tamil Nadu, India, is an Indian actress who has appeared in Bollywood films.
Noted for her versatility as an actress, Rekha was particularly recognised for playing female-oriented characters, such as that of the school-girl in Khubsoorat and the decisive avenger in Khoon Bhari Maang, both of which earned her the Filmfare Best Actress Award.
Her portrayal of a classical courtesan in Umrao Jaan won her the National Film Award for Best Actress and was followed by numerous critically acclaimed performances.
Throughout the 1970s and onwards she has been featured as a sex symbol in the Indian media.
Rekha has acted in over 180 films in a career that has spanned 40 years.
She has reinvented herself numerous times in her career and is known for her ability to sustain her status.
Taking part in both Indian mainstream and art cinema, known in India as parallel cinema, she has achieved commercial success, as well as critical praise for her performances throughout the years.
Born on 10 October 1954 in Chennai, India, she is the daughter of renowned Tamil actor Gemini Ganesan and the Telugu actress Pushpavalli.
Her father enjoyed considerable success as an actor and Rekha was to follow in his footsteps.
Rekha’s parents were not married, and her father did not acknowledge his paternity during her childhood.
It was during the early 1970s, when she was looking for a footing in the Bollywood film industry, that she revealed her origins.
Later, at the peak of her career, Rekha told a magazine interviewer that her father’s neglect still rankled and that she had ignored his efforts at reconciliation.
Rekha appeared as a child actor in the Telugu film Rangula Ratnam (1966). Rekha made her debut as heroine in the successful Kannada film Goadalli CID 999 with Dr. Rajkumar in 1969.
In that same year, she starred in her first Hindi film, 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.
Her first performance-oriented role came in 1976 when she played an ambitious woman in Do Anjaane, co-starring Amitabh Bachchan. The film became a hit as well as a critical success, and she was widely noticed for her performance
In 1981, she starred in the Urdu film Umrao Jaan. The film tells the story of a young girl, Amiran, who is kidnapped and sold in a brothel, and follows her life story there as Umrao. Her portrayal of a sensitive courtesan has been considered one of her career best performances, and she received the National Film Award for Best Actress for it.
The film-column gossip may have contributed to her success. However, even critics had to admit that she had worked hard to perfect her Hindi and her acting, and that she had transformed herself from a “plump” duckling to a “swan” in the early 1970s.
Rekha has had various unsuccessful relationships with fellow Bollywood stars including Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Mehra and in 1990 she married Delhi-based businessman Mukesh Aggarwal, who committed suicide in 1991.
She was rumored to have been married to actor Vinod Mehra in 1973, but in a 2004 television interview with Simi Garewal she denied being married to him referring to him as a “well-wisher”.
Rekha currently lives along with her secretary Farzana in her Bandra home in Mumbai.