Happy Birthday Rekha!

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Rekha…The actress who led a controversial life beginning with her birth.

Rekha, one of the most celebrated actresses in Bollywood turned 62 on October 10.

Rekha was born Bhanurekha Ganesan to Tamil actor Gemini Ganesan and Telugu actress Pushpavalli. With acting in her blood, it was only natural that she should took to the silver screen. However, it wasn’t easy. The actress has led a controversial life and it began with her birth.

Rekha’s parents were not married and her father Gemini Ganesan who was known as Kaathal Mannan (King of Romance) in Tamil film industry reigning supreme along with MG Rakmachandran and Shivaji Ganesha at the time, refused to acknowledge her. She was famously estranged from her father after she made it big and ignored his attempts at reconciliation.

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Credited as Baby Bhanurekha in the Telugu film Rangula Ratnam (1966), Rekha made her acting debut at age 12. She made her Bollywood debut in 1969 Do Shikari. She bagged her first role as a lead actress in Sawan Bhadon (1970) opposite Navin Nischol. The film was a big hit and Rekha became a star overnight.

Rekha’s first few years in Bollywood were tough. She struggled with the Hindi language and was bewildered by  criticism about her dark complexion, voluptuous figure and ‘South Indian looks’. It took a complete reinvention of her image, helped by a strict regime of diet and yoga, for Rekha to be acknowledged as one of Bollywood’s beauties

After a string of mostly forgettable films, Rekha’s breakthrough came with 1976’s Do Anjaane. Critics heaped praises on her performance as an ambitious wife, but Do Anjaane, was notable for one other reason – it was her first film opposite frequent collaborator and rumoured off-screen paramour Amitabh Bachchan.

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In 1981, Yash Chopra made Silsila and executed a casting coup with Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan playing a married couple and Rekha playing the ‘other woman.’

Silsila was widely considered a case of art imitating life as Rekha’s alleged personal alliance with the married Amitabh had gathered notoriety amongst filmgoers. The two actors gave a string of hit films together spurning reams of gossip about their ‘relationship’. Silsila, however, turned out to be their last collaboration.

The actress is mentioned in the list of most-talked about Bollywood stars across generations, ironically, as her personal life and relationships always kept Rekha in the news, even as she maintained silence on most of them.

Rekha was last seen on the big screen in Amitabh Bachchan-stareer “Shamitabh”, last year. The actress had a guest appearance in which she played herself. – CINEWS

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