Happy Birthday! Timeless Beauty Rekha & Some Of Her Best Performances

Enigma, elusive, recluse, aloof, diva, transformational, regal and versatile. These are some of the adjectives associated with the timeless beauty, Rekha, who turned 68 on Monday.

Rekha transformed herself from being a “kaali-kalooti” ( dark and ugly), which is how her first co-star Navin Nischol in Saawan Bhadon addressed her, to a diva. Rekha was aware she was being made fun of. In an interview with the Telegraph, she said, “I was called the ‘ugly duckling’ of Hindi films because of my dark complexion and South Indian features. I used to feel deeply hurt when people compared me with the leading heroines of the time and said I was no match for them. I was determined to make it big on sheer merit.”

Rather than getting discouraged and demotivated, Rekha worked on her looks, dialogue delivery and acting. She went on to win awards in four movies. Let’s take a look at some of her performances and associated trivia.

Umrao Jaan

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When she was 27, her portrayal of a tragic courtesan in Muzaffar Ali’s 1981 film Umrao Jaan finally earned her critical acclaim and a national film award for Best Actress. However, the Filmfare award that year went to Smita Patil for Chakra.

Umrao Jaan had some of the best songs ever such as ‘Dil Cheez Kya Hai’, ‘In Aankhon KiMasti, ‘Justaju Jiski Thi’ and ‘Yeh Kya Jagah Hai Doston’The entire country fell in love with Rekha and her stunning performance. This movie is a high point of Asha Bhosle’s career as well. Choreography by Kumudini Lakhia and Gopi Krishna was highly appreciated.


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Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khoobsurat, which was adjudged the best movie, also won Rekha the best actress award. She played aplayful and naughty young girl, who comes and stays in her sister’s in-laws’ house and transforms a strict dictatorial family atmosphere into one of love and belongingness. Sonam Kapoor and Fawad Khan’s 2014 movie Khoobsurat is loosely based on the basic idea of a playful stranger entering a highly-disciplined household.


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A passionate affair between Vasantasena (Rekha), the beautiful courtesan and Charudatt (Shekhar Suman) was the crux of this movie produced by Shashi Kapoor and directed by Girish Karnad. A film ahead of its time, it explored eroticism without being a provocative skin fest while. Rekha infused sensuality as well as gravitas to the role of the courtesan. The lovemaking scenes were nothing short of legendary.


Rekha Birthday: Rekha turns 68! In 4-decade-long career, diva wowed audience with stellar acts in 'Umrao Jaan', 'Silsila' & 'Utsav' - The Economic Times

One of the most challenging roles of Rekha’s career, it was about an average middle-class housewife who moonlights as an escort  to keep up with her desire for a more luxurious lifestyle. She dismantled every social conception of a middle-class Indian wife with sheer brilliance and ease.

Khoon Bhari Maang

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This revenge thriller saw Rekha transforming herself in the movie from an unattractive lady betrayed by her husband ( Kabir Bedi) to a stunning model who takes revenge. Shatrughan Sinha and Sonu Walia ( best supporting actress) played important roles. Rekha won the best actress award for her role. The movie was a re-make of the Aussie mini-series Return to Eden. Kabir Bedi was cast on Rekha’s advice and he returned to India only for this movie.Deepak Parashar was originally supposed to play the role.

Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi

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Rekha won the best supporting actress award at the Filmfare and the Star Screen best villain award for her role in Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi. This was one of the many ‘Khiladi’ movies of Akshay Kumar. WWF Superstars – the Undertaker and Crush – featured in this movie. Rekha’s portrayal of the criminal don, Maya, was well appreciated.


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