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Happy Birthday Rekha: Ten iconic roles of the Bollywood diva

The Indian Express logoThe Indian Express 10-10-2015 sonal gera

Often referred to as the ultimate Bollywood diva, Rekha has ruled the hearts of many and continues to do so. With her power-packed performances wrapped in her angelic beauty, not only did Rekha win numerous awards, but also was accoladed as one of the best actors India has ever seen.

The legendary actress turns 61 today and as a tribute to this timeless talent and ageless beauty, we have compiled a list of her most iconic roles. Have a look.

1. Umrao Jaan (1981)

In 1981, Rekha starred in 'Umrao Jaan', a film adaptation of the Urdu novel 'Umrao Jaan Ada' (1905), written by Mirza Hadi Ruswa. Rekha played the titular role of a courtesan and poetess from the 19th century Lucknow.

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Rekha once confessed, "After reading the script, I had a strange feeling that I had Umrao in me." In preparation for the role, Rekha, who at the beginning of her career did not speak Hindi, took the task of learning the finer nuances of the Urdu language. The response to her work was universally positive. Her portrayal of Umrao Jaan is considered to be one of her career-best performances, and she was even awarded the National Film Award for it.

2. Silsila (1981)

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This was a slice-of-life movie for the legendary actress as the movie has been rumoured to be inspired from her real life. Looking a million bucks in 'Silsila', Rekha won hearts with her powerful performance.

4. Khoobsurat (1980)

The free spirited Manju could be played by nobody else other than Rekha. Her comic timing in this Hrishikesh Mukherjee directorial is worth watching out.

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Rekha's career prospects began to improve significantly after this movie, as leading filmmakers had started taking more notice of her and become more keen to cast her in their films.

5. Ghar (1978)

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'Aaj Kal Paaon Zameen Par Nahin Padtey Mere,' the song instantly reminds of a youthful Rekha dreamily singing to her beloved. Depicting the aftermath of assault and rape on a woman and hence, a married couple, the movie was singled out to be one of Rekha's top performances.

6. Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978)

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Rekha first played the role of a courtesan in this 1978 release, opposite Amitabh Bachchan. Her smoldering intensity as Zohra Bai and selfless love for Sikandar(played by Amitabh Bachchan) pushed her yards farther than her contemporaries.

3. Khoon Bhari Maang (1988)

This movie served as a comeback for the actress and that too, an impactful one. An almost first of its kind, the movie proved that with a strong script and an actress like Rekha, you don't really need a male superstar to make a hit film.

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Rekha was flawless in the first half as the shy and not-so-sexy Aarti and after the resurrection and makeover as the femme fatale she is excellent too.

7. Phool Bane Angaaray (1991)

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Portraying a young woman who joins the police to avenge her husband's death, Rekha made a lasting impact with this peformance of hers. Also, with this movie, Rekha had become one of the flag-bearers of female centric movies in that era.

8. Mr Natwarlal (1979)

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Another superhit opposite megastar Amitabh Bachchan made the duo one of the most sought-after pairs in the Hindi film industry.

9. Utsav (1984)

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Starring Rekha and Shekhar Suman, 'Utsav' was ahead of its times in many ways. The boldness and sensuality shown in the movie was first of its kind and catapulted the lead stars to instant success.

10. Ijaazat (1987)

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Rekha's 1987 release saw her play Naseeruddin Shah's wife who, when his ex-lover enters their life, leaves him only to find that she has misunderstood him. Rekha's mature performance is still appreciated among the cinegoers.

(With Inputs)

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