Rekha's 10 CAREER BEST onscreen performances
On Rekha's 59th birthday today, October 10, Subhash K Jha revisits her top 10 films.
Khoon Bhari Maang (1988)
This Rakesh Roshan revenge drama saw Rekha in two radically different avatars.
From Aarti -- the plain Jane rich widow -- Rekha transforms into Jyoti -- the smouldering diva -- when she returns to seek revenge for her attempted murder in the film.
The performance was predominantly anchored with prosthetics and makeup but Rekha stood out with her dramatic transformation from meek ugly duckling to drop-dead gorgeous femme fatale.
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Image: Rekha in Khoon Bhari Maang
The only film in which Rekha worked with director Gulzar, Ijaazat featured her in the role of a wife who allows her husband (played by Naseeruddin Shah) to return to his first love.
An unconventional love story even by today's standards, Ijaazat saw Rekha at her restrained best.
Image: Rekha in Ijaazat
Rekha's luminous beauty often eclipsed everything else on screen.
As a fifth century courtesan Vasantsena in Girish Karnad's Utsav, Rekha's sensuous turn was a highlight of the film, not to forget the memorable songs she starred in.
Image: Rekha in Utsav
Jeevan Dhara (1982)
Unlike other sacrificial heroines who silently give up their own happiness for the sake of the family, Rekha’s Sangeeta -- the sole breadwinner of her family -- never ceases to remind them just how much she has given up to put food on their table.
Rekha's standout performance earned her a Filmfare Best Actress nomination.
Image: Movie poster of Jeevan Dhara
Umrao Jaan (1981)
Muzaffar Ali-directed Umrao Jaan is often hailed as Rekha's Mother India.
Rekha was a sheer delight to watch on screen as the Lucknowi courtesan whose adventurous life is defined and defiled by the various men she encounters.
Image: Rekha in Umrao Jaan
In Yash Chopra's Silsila, Rekha's Chandni is a stunning women with an impeccable dressing sense. Rekha's pitch-perfect portrayal of the other woman in an extra marital affair was memorable.
In her confrontation scene with Jaya (Bachchan, who plays Shobha -- the wife), Rekha held her own in an inspired performance.
Image: Rekha and Amitabh Bachchan in Silsila
Hrishikesh Mukherjee loved Rekha to bits.
Even at a time when she wasn't taken seriously as an actress, Hrishida gave her performance-driven roles in Namak Haraam and Alaap.
In Khubsoorat, Hrishida wrote the role of the incorrigible do-gooder who takes on her sister’s disciplinarian mother-in-law (Dina Pathak) especially for Rekha.
This was the second turning-point in her career after Ghar.
Image: Rekha in Khubsoorat
Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978)
Rekha’s Zohra, who silently loves Amitabh Bachchan's ill-fated Sikandar and watches him die, gained immense popularity, especially with the song Salaam-e-Ishq.
The song was yet another milestone in her long and prolific career.
Image: Rekha in Muqaddar Ka Sikandar
As a rape survivor housewife who is nurtured back to normal life by her supportive husband, Rekha lends credibility to her character's pain and trauma through her performance.
Some of Lata Mangeshkar’s most memorable melodies like Tere bina jiya jaye na and Aaj kal paaon zameer par were picturised on her.
Image: Rekha in Ghar
Do Anjaane (1976)
All of Rekha’s best performances came in the second phase of her career after the miraculous makeover.
Do Anjaane was actually the beginning of the new, svelte and sexy part of her career.
In this Dulal Guha directed drama, she plays an overambitious Bengali housewife who connives with her husband Amitabh Bachchan’s best friend (Prem Chopra) to murder him.
Image: Rekha in Do Anjaane