Rekha is as regal as they come.
Struggling to find work In Bollywood after acting as a child artiste in the South, Rekha had a tough time at the start. That changed when she got the lead role in Sawan Bhadon which made her a star overnight.
She had a string of hits as a glamorous actor before the Big Transformation came. Her looks changed and so did her acting style.
She chose roles carefully and went on to carve her name as one of the most beautiful and best actresses on India cinema.
Here are five of her films which display her great acting abilities:
Sawan Bhadon (1970)
Cast: Naveen Nischol, Rekha, Jayshree T, Ranjit, Iftikhar
Director: Mohan Sehgal
Vikram (Navin Niscol) is a wealthy man who returns from Europe and bumps into his stepmother and stepsister who are scheming to get hold of his money. Goons are sent to beat him up but Vikram is rescued by a village belle Chanda (Rekha) and they fall in love.
The plot foiled his stepmother and to be son-in-law plant a bomb in Vikram’s car and this explodes. Vikram is presumed dead but a lookalike turns up in the guise of an inspector and the others are not sure. But all’s well that ends well
Cast: Rekha, Vinod Mehra, Prema Narayan, Madan Puri, Asrani, Dinesh Thakur
Director: Manik Chatterjee
The trauma of a woman who is assaulted and gang-raped is central to the plot involving a couple Vikas Chandra (Vinod Mehra) and Aarti (Rekha). The couple go for a late night show and while returning are waylaid by a gang who severely injure Vikas and violently rape Aarti.
This affects their entire relationship after both return from hospital. Aarti is so traumatised by the incident that she cannot trust a man anymore. The couple stay together in a loveless relationship. Will they be able to solve their problems?
Umrao Jaan (1981)
Cast: Rekha, Farooque Shaikh, Naseeruddin Shah, Seema Sathyu, Raj Babbar, Shaukat Azmi, Dina Pathak, Prema Narayan
Director: Muzaffar Ali
In the 1840s, a young girl named Amiran (Seema Sathyu) is kidnapped and sold to Khanum Jaan (Shaukat Azmi), the madame of a brothel in Lucknow. Aminran grows up into a cultured woman and is renamed Umrao Jaan (Rekha), a courtesan who attracts a lot of rich clients.
Nawab Sultan (Farooque Shaikh) falls in love with her but their affair is dommed. Umrao Jaan then elopes with bandit chieftain Faiz Ali (Raj Babbar) before he is killed by police. She now returns to her family but her brother bars her. Umrao Jaan then goes back to Lucknow, facing an uncertain future.
Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978)
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Vinod Khanna, Rakhee, Rekha, Amjad Khan, Shreeram Lagoo, Kader Khan, Ranjit
Director: Prakash Mehra
An orphan named Sikandar (Amitabh Bachchan) is left confused when during his childhood, he is accused of being a thief by a wealthy man Ramnath (Shreeram Lagoo), whose daughter Kaamna (Rakhee) likes him. However, Sikandar grows up to be an informer and makes a lot of money while Ramnath’s fortunes plummet.
Sikandar makes friends with a lawyer Vishal (Vinod Khanna) but unfortunately both fall for Kaamna. Sikandar is disappointed and starts visiting a dancer Zohra (Rekha). This complicates matters further before Zohra is forced to kill herself. More tragedy awaits.
Aastha: In The Prison of Spring (1997)
Cast: Rekha, Naveen Nischol, Om Puri, Dinesh Thakur, Daisy Irani
Director: Basu Bhattacharya
The film deals with the sexuality of a woman outside her marriage and how she compromises herself for materialistic gains. Mansi (Rekha) and Amar (Om Puri) have been married for a long time and have a daughter. One day, Mansi is out to buy shoes for her daughter but finds her unable afford them. A woman named Reena (Daisy Irani) watches this and offers to buy the shoes.
Little does Mansi know that this gesture opens the doors to Mansi’s sexual escapes and eventual slide. Reena introduces her to a lot of rich men who pay for sexual favours. Suddenly Mansi is able to live a rich life. But later her uneasiness builds and she is in a moral dilemma.