Bhanurekha Gemini Ganesan, commonly known as Rekha, is one of the all time greatest actresses of Bollywood. She is the daughter of the well known film superstar Gemini Ganeshan and Telugu actress Pushpavalli. She was born on 10 October 1954, in Chennai. 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.
Rekha made her debut in Bollywood in Sawan Bhadon (1970), starring opposite Navin Nischol, which was a hit. But her inability to speak Hindi, a dusky complexion, as well as her weight, came in the way of her popularity. She did get a few offers for flms, but nothing much to talk about. She then decided to lose weight, and took courses in Hindi and dance. A new Rekha was born. After a few flops like Saaz Aur Sanam (1971) and Elaan (1971), she earned her next hit in Gora Aur Kala (1972), starring Rajendra Kumar. She had another hit in 1972 with Raampur Ka Laxman doing extremely well. Kahani Kismat Ki (1973), Namak Haraam (1973), Pran Jaye Par Vachan Na Jaye (1974) and Dharmatma (1975) were hits as well. But still, Rekha was not considered as a good actress. It was only her performance in the hit film Do Anjaane (1976), starring Amitabh Bachchan, which earned her critical acclaim. Nagin (1976) was a big hit too. After a few flops like Ram Bharose (1977) and Imaan Dharam (1977), she claimed her first blockbuster film Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978) and another hit performance in Ghar (1978), which then made her one of the most successful actresses during that period. Rekha’s other big hits included Mr.Natwarlal (1979), Suhaag (1979), Jaani Dushman (1979), Judaai (1980), and Khubsoorat (1980). In 1981, she starred in the critically acclaimed Urdu film Umrao Jaan, for which she received the National Film Award for Best Actress. Ek Hi Bhool (1981), starring Jeetendra, and Khoon Bhari Maang (1988) for which she won many accolades, were among her other hits. In the 80s , Rekha also did a few Art films, few of which are remembered even today viz. Jeevan Dhaara (1982), Utsav (1984), and Ijaazat (1987). Films like Ram Balram (1980), Maang Bharo Sajna (1980), Baseraa (1981), Kalyug (1981), Silsila (1981), Ghazab (1982), Agar Tum Na Hote (1983) did just about average business, though some of them were really good. Rekha also had some flops like Ahinsa (1979), Do Shikari (1979), Khoon Aur Pani (1981), Vijeta (1982), Asha Jyoti (1984), Pyar Ki Jeet (1987). 1990 onwards, Rekha’s career-graph started drooping as she was still doing lead roles, while her other counterparts like Hema Malini and Rakhee were doing supporting roles like the mother of the hero. She did Mira Nair’s controversial film Kama Sutra: A Tale Of Love (1996) and the commercially successful Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi (1996) for which she won a couple of awards awards. Qila (1998), Mother (1999), Censor (2001), Mujhe Meri Biwi Se Bachaao (2001), Kudiyon ka Hai Zamana (2006), were among her flops. Rekha gave some strong performances in films like Zubeidaa (2001), Lajja (2001), Dil Hai Tumhara (2002) and Bhoot (2003). In 2003 Rekha played Hrithik’s mother in the superhit film Koi… Mil Gaya, which won her a lot of appreciation. She also starred in the sequel Krrish (2006) which was again a major hit. In 2005, she sizzled in the dance track ‘Kaisi paheli zindagani...’ in the hit film Parineeta. Her last film Yatra (2006) failed to do well. She made a special appearance in the recent blockbuster film Om Shanti Om (2007) starring Shah Rukh Khan. Rekha will be seen in Krrish 2 (2009). She has no other film on hand yet.
Apart from Filmfare, Screen and other awards, Rekha won Awards like: Maha Style Icon of the year (2004), Sony Golden Glory Award (2005), Idea Zee F Awards - Fashionable Film Star (2006), Stardust Awards - Role Model of the year (2006), Deenanath Mangeshkar Award (2006), Living Legend in the world of entertainment by FICCI (2007)