Remember the well loved tale of the ugly duckling at the receiving end of cruel jibes until it was transformed into a beautiful swan? That story has amazing parallels with the life Rekha aka "The Bollywood Queen". Once dismissed as a fat and mediocre actor in "Sawan Badhon" her debut film as a lead, in a passage of a few years she gripped the popular imagination with her sultry and alluring persona.
Explaining how she achieved this seemingly Herculean task, Rekha told Filmfare magazine, "To be a master, you have to persevere. There's no easy way out. I realised that my body is the temple of my existence.
I realised the importance of a nutritious diet. You needn't diet. You can live it. Regular exercise is almost like an education. You've gotta make the rules, you stick by it. And try not to hurt anyone." Lastly what keeps me going is my faith in the Unknown Force. That fascinates me. Then I'm glad just to be ALIVE.
Rekha's stunning looks are apparent in her films, her first big break, "Muqaddar Ka Sikandar" (which was believed to be the beginning of the Amitahb-Rekha romance), Other hits were "Do Anjaane", "Ghar", "Silsila", " Umrao Jaan", "Kamasutra", "Khubsoorat", "Basera" and "Agar Tum Na Hote". "Khubsoorat" bagged her the Filmfare Award of best actress (1981). Later that year she was the proud recipient of the National award for film "Umrao Jaan". Likewise, in subsequent years she won the
Filmfare award for best actress for "Khoon Bhari Maang" and Filmfare award for best supporting actress for "Khiladiyon Ke Khiladi". A big surprise was the
1998 U.P. award for the best kathak dancer in Hindi films. Installed by the King of Kathak, Pandit Lachchu Maharaj, the ceremony also commemorated the maestro's 97th birth anniversary.
Controversy has dogged Rekha through her 40 year film career. Early on, recalls faded actor Rehana Sultan in an interview that appeared in Filmfare magazine (July 6,2011) she shot to fame as the 'kiss girl; (Life magazine carried a picture of Biswajeet kissing her in the film "Anjana Safar").Then was of course her relationship with Amitabh Bachchan, her divorce from Vinod Mehra and her marriage to businessman Mukesh Aggarwal which ended in a divorce with Aggarwal committing suicide soon after.
Today she leads a Garboesque existence. More or less cut off from the world, the only people who have access to her are her best friend and secretary Farzana, her make-up woman Hatija, Surinder, an airhostess and a friend in Hyderabad. The only time the public gets to see her is on screen or at Bollywood do's where she never fails to look stunning.