Rekha (born Bhanurekha Ganesan on October 10, 1954) is a legendary Indian film actress. She is acclaimed for her versatility and is considered one of the finest actresses in Hindi cinema. Though she started her career in 1966 as a child actress in the Telugu film Rangula Ratnam, which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu for that year. Her debut in Hindi films was in Sawan Bhadon (1970) and she since then has acted in over 180 films. The Indian media gave her the the sobriquet "sex symbol". Apart from many film fare awards and national awards for her films, she is also the recipient of national civilian award of Padma Shri given by the Government of India. She is a member of the Rajya Sabha in the Indian Parliament.
- For a woman to be complete, she has to be a blend of Paro and Chandramukhi [the two women who love Devdas. I feel that I am that woman.
- Quoted in "Rekha: The divine diva". Rediff.com. 17 May 2003.
The diva rules
"The diva rules". The Telegraph. 3 August 2008.
- 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.
- My teaming up with Amitabh Bachchan in Do Anjan earned me fame as an intense actress. Then it was Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khubsoorat in 1978 that established me as an actress of repute.
- The real turning point in my life came when I performed my best in Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan. After reading the script, I felt I had Umrao in me — the character influenced me so much. I put my soul into each minute aspect of my performance. I was thrilled when I won the National Award for Best Actress for Umrao Jaan.
- My teaming with Amitabh taught me many practical aspects of life and the film world. He’s one of the most versatile actors of Indian cinema.
- After reading the script, I had a strange feeling that I had Umrao in me. And the film created history.… I gave a performance which is one of my personal favourites.
- About her acting in Umroa Jan quoted in "Ever gorgeous". The Hindu. 16 October 2010. Retrieved on 7 December 2013.
- It was my first chance to rub shoulders with the immensely talented Amitabh Bachchan and we went on to become a super hit pair
- After acting with Amitab Bachan in ‘Do Anjane' quoted in "Ever gorgeous".
- How is this dark, plump and gauche actress ever going to make it?
- Shashi Kapoor when she appeared first for shooting of film Sawan Bhadon, quoted in "Rekha: The divine diva" in Rediff.com
- She would be the darling of the masses for years to come.
- Prophesized by Jennifer Kapoor quoted in "Rekha: The divine diva" in Rediff.com
- Rekha fashioned herself as an actress with a signature look very different from her early years as a struggling actress. This transformation was often referred to as as that of an ugly duckling. In interviews and film magazines Rekha claimed that she had achieved this by changing her lifestyle, healthy eating practices, and doing yoga. Soon she had inspired a whole fashion trend and had film magazines raving about her affair with Amitab Bachhan. Such publicity added to her image as a symbol of seduction and glamour. She was seen as a woman who could challenge patriarchal norms by remaining single and being famous.
- The celebrated Hindi film actress has a cult of personality surrounding her that is unparalleled among other actresses and is often the subject of particularly fascinating urban legend.
- Susan Dewey in Dewey, Susan (2008). Making Miss India Miss World: Constructing Gender, Power, and the Nation in Postliberalization India. Syracuse University Press. pp. 111–. ISBN 978-0-8156-3176-7.
- Rekha, a photogenic girl with seductive eyes, languished in insubstantial roles. The audience was floored when there was a swift change in her screen personality, as well as her style of acting. She paid painstaking attention to her make-up and acting technique. She improved her dress sense and recorded albums to promote physical fitness. What Jane Fonda did for aerobics in America, Rekha did for yoga in India.
- Quoted in Love, anger, the works!. Filmfare. Retrieved on 7 December 2013.
At 55, Rekha still an engima, an icon
"At 55, Rekha still an enigma, an icon". Retrieved on 7 December 2013.
- She is a dreamer... she lives in her own world. She imagines a lot of things that suit her psyche as an actor. She is a very genuine, warm and a very sensitive person... And no denying the fact a very good learner. It has been an amazing experience to work with her; she is a perfect actress.
- Comment by Muzaffar Ali said.
- Rekha is nearest to the parallel of Swedish actress Greta Garbo... they both came from poor backgrounds and climbed great heights... As an artist she was first noticed in 'Ghar' and after that she was no more termed as only a voluptuous artist in Hindi cinema because then came films like 'Khubsoorat' and 'Umrao Jaan' that set her apart,"
- Comment by film historian Gautam Kaul.
- She is enigmatic... because she is hard to get She only moves in a small circle of senior film people and she shuns the media. That's also because she is a tragic figure with failed relationships... none of which succeeded, so she has withdrawn into herself. The only place she is now noticed is award functions, which are also picked and chosen. But she still doesn't give any interviews.
- Comment by film historian Gautam Kaul
- Rekha is a diva... In fact, the term diva (in India) was coined for Rekha. The way she has metamorphosed herself from what she was when she came into the industry is mind blowing... She has worked on her language, body, diction, everything and apart from that she's a fantastic actress.
- Comment by film critic Omar Qureshi.
- There was a special 'Rekha Diet' compiled by Chunky Pande's mother, Dr. Snehlata Pandey. Her looks and style are copied throughout India and she even has her book (on yoga and exercises) called 'Rekha's Mind and Body Temple' (1983). She has remained a mystery and what keeps her a legend is that how she has kept it intact so beautifully. She is a complete Jane Fonda.
- Comment by film critic Omar Qureshi
- There is no one in the industry to compare with Rekhaji as a beauty and as a performer... she is so good. For me, she is the perfect style icon. Jitna chamak unke face par hai, kisi ke chehre par nahin (the glow on her face is incomparable).
- She has a perfect nose, pretty eyes and the best part is that she does her make-up on her own. She is in perfect shape. I just love her and adore her. I think she should have a wax statue at Madame Tussaud's
- Above two comments by Rakhi Sawant, the item girl of Indian cinema
- I admire her and she is the one actress I look up to. I love her unforgettable films like 'Khoobsurat'. She's a living legend.
- Above comments by Mugdha Godse
Queen bee:The legend of Rekha
"Queen bee:The legend of Rekha". The Sunday Tribune. Retrieved on 7 December 2013.
- Hindi cinema’s only woman of substance, of late who enthralled the audiences and others with that air of mystery and intrigue while remaining a top heroine for more than 10 years is Rekha.
- Critique V. Gangadhar unraveling the enigma of Rekha
- She was the most versatile star of her generation… And unmatched in handling comic roles.
- Comments of Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Film Director
- She was just awesome, it was a privilege to act with her
- Farooque Shaikh her fellow artist
- Rekha is a rare gem....if only I had a suitable script for her, I would cast her without any delay
- Mahesh Bhatt, a film director