Rekha’s Bollywood movies that proved she’s the ultimate diva

They say that time and tide wait for no one. Well, that applies to most fo us but not Rekha. In fact, you can pick up any of her films from the past 20 years and you’ll see that she still looks just as beautiful and charming on screen. Slowly and steadily, Rekha climbed her way to the top and is now known as one of the most glamorous and enchanting women in the movie industry. The actress has worked in over 170 films in her career and still managing to keep fans guessing for what’s to come next. While she has come from time to time on the radar of the media for things like alleged off-screen romances and a controversial personal life, she never let those factors affect the actor that was within her. So, from an illustrious career that spans over three decades, we bring you 20 roles of Rekha that made her the ultimate diva that she is today. 1.Sawan Bhadon (1970)

Considered to be too voluptuous for the mainstream cinema, Rekha had struggled to find takers for commercial films and was often chased by B-grade cinema makers with film offers. That was until Mohan Sehgal signed her for Sawan Bhadon. Rekha couldn’t have had a better start to her career as Sawan Bhadon scored big at the box-office and also lead to her signing a dozen films. In the film, Rekha played the character of Chanda, a village girl who falls in love with a wealthy man and they get married. However, this does not sit to well with his family as they’re only after his wealth.

2.Namak Haraam (1973)

This is a story of two brother-like friends, Somu (Rajesh Khanna) and Vicky (Amitabh Bachchan). While Somu is born in a poor household, Vicky is the son of a wealthy industrialist. When Vicky’s father has a heart attack and is advised to take bed-rest, Vicky takes his place. Vicky ends up having an argument with the union leader of the labourers in the factory. To teach him a lesson, Vicky asks Somu win the trusts of his employees and take the leader’s spot. However, during the course of spending time with them, Somu learns about their struggles and the state of their lives and begins to look at things differently. Rekha appears in the film as the sassy and classy Shyama and manages to make an impact despite limited screen time. The social drama is brilliantly written and directed and makes for a great watch.

3.Do Anjaane (1976) A man (Amitabh Bachchan) is found wounded on railway tracks and when he awakens he has no memory of who he is and doesn’t remember anything about his life. Six years later while watching a film he remembers that the actress in the film is his wife Rekha Roy (Rekha). Her manager is now Ranjit (Prem Chopra) who was his close friend but left him to die on the railway tracks. He enters their life again with an aim to get his revenge from Ranjit. The film gave us a glimpse of what can happen when relations turn sour.

4.Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978)

Muqaddar Ka Sikandar was a story about the constant struggles that a man had to face in his life. Sikandar (Amitabh Bachchan) was an orphan living in Simla who didn’t even know where his next meal would come from. He is adopted by a rich family and falls in love with their daughter Kaamna (Rakhee Gulzar). Later on, he’s wrongly accused for theft and is thrown out. This leads to him turning to alcohol. He also begins to visit brothels frequently where where he meets Zohra Bai (Rekha), who falls in love with him at first sight, but Sikandar still loves Kamna. Sikandar is shattered when he finds out that Kaamna is in love with someone else and Zohra Bai too gave up on her life when she found out that she can never have Sikandar. Amitabh had a mix of his angry young man and doomed lover in this character which he pulled off brilliantly. Even though Rekha’s role is very stereotypical she does an excellent job.

5.Ghar (1978)

Vikas and Aarti are a happily married couple despite facing objections from their families. However, everything seems to be going smooth until Aarti is brutally gang-raped by four thugs. Obviously, this puts a deep scar in the relationship of the happy couple. While Aarti is obviously traumatised and feels she’s a burden on the family, Vikas tries to move on and make her feel like nothing happened. This gave a fans a surprise as she stripped down from he glamorous avatar and played a rape victim brilliantly.

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6.Jaani Dushman (1979)

Jaani Dushman without a doubt was a big crowd puller since it featured the likes of Sunil Dutt, Sanjeev Kumar, Jeetendra, Shatrughan Sinha, Vinod Mehra, Reena Roy, Rekha, Neetu Singh. The film mainly focuses on the mysterious death of brides. The suspense goes deeper and deeper as we continue seeing the death of brides without any explanations. Nobody seems to have any clues relating to the death and everybody, including the village priest, are treated as suspects.

7.Khubsoorat (1980)

Nirmala Gupta is the head of the Gupta family and runs the house in a very authoritative manner. While most family members, don’t like the constant nagging they do over to her and live by her rules. Their second son is married to Anju. Anju calls her sister Manju over at her house to stay and she is loved by everyone except Nirmala. Nirmala’s third son wants to get married to Manju but she does not like how Nirmala maintains a firm hold on every single thing in the house. Hrishikesh Mukherjee delivered yet another light and entertaining film with Khoobsoorat. The depiction of simple everyday issues through this film manages to make a genuine impact on the viewer.

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8. Judaai (1980)

Juddaai was a film that was based on the travails of an unlikely couple, their marriage, their separation and their coming-of-age whilst away from each other. Rekha’s character like Jeetendra’s goes through an entire circle of life and Rekha didn’t disappoint. Her older avatar in the film was more notable than her young one and also received a lot more love from the audience.

9.Silsila (1981)

Flowing silk sarees, cascading tresses and eyes full of love, passion and sorrow. That sums up Rekha’s character from Silsila in its physical form but there was so much more than just that. Amit (Amitabh Bachchan) is a poet who decides to sacrifice the love of his life Chandni (Rekha) after his he finds out that his late brother’s fiancée Shobha (Jaya Bachchan) is pregnant. Years later, fortune brings Amit and Chandni together again and thus begins an extra marital affair between the two. The film feels very authentic all the credit for that must go to Yash Raj. To ad to it, Silsila also has some limited appearances by Shashi Kapoor and Sanjeev Kumar.

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10.Baseraa (1981)

This story is about two loving sisters, Sharda and Poornima, played by Raakhee and Rekha. Sharda loses her mental balance and goes into coma upon seeing her sister get widowed on her wedding night. Poornima takes the responsibility to look after her sister’s family herself and ends up marrying her husband. The best part of about Baseraa is that every character in the film is well written and has been given enough importance. You feel for Rekha’s character as she has no choice but to adopt into the life her sister was living and look after her family. She expresses anxiety and fear before her sister’s comeback and suffering and pain when she is like a stranger in her own home wonderfully.

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11. Ek Hi Bhool (1981)

Sadhana (Rekha) and Ramkumar (Jeetendra) are a married couple. Their marriage begins to have problems when Sadhana finds about Ramkumar’s affair with a widow. She does not handle this situation well and immediately files for a divorce. After the divorce, she finds out that she’s pregnant. However, this does not change her mind in any manner and she decides to raise the child on her own. Years go by and Sadhana secures a job in a company as clerk. Co incidentally Ramkmar works as the manager in the company. Ramkumar tries to reconcile their relationship but Sadhana still seems very adamant on her decision. Even the film’s execution is pretty simple, it has a big impact on the film. The film has a fantastic mix of comedy and drama, and thankfully, it comes without any unnecessary sentimentality.

12.Kalyug (1981)

Kalyug in many ways was a modern day version of Mahabharata at the time. Rekha played the character of Draupadi and while she could not be married to 5 men, she did anchor the family of brothers in the film, a role that Draupadi stood for. The story of Kauravas, Pandavas and their epic battle has been brilliantly adapted to Business Rivalry of two families who like Kauravas and Pandavas are related as well. Every single event of Mahabharata has been conveyed through the lives these characters you just need to have the eye to notice it. It’s going to be a long time until any Indian filmmaker can recreate the sheer strength of this motion picture.

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13.Umrao Jaan (1981)

Amiran (Rekha) is sold to a brothel by a corrupt cop after her father testifies against him. Years later, she is establishes herself accomplished poetess and a renowned courtesan Umrao Jaan that is loved and admired by many. All along the film, we see her grow as an artist and as an author that comes from the pain she’s suffered in life. In fact, her songs and dances in the film also give a good depiction of the current state of her life. Rekha completely owns the character of Umrao Jaan. There is no extra melodrama and instead she uses subtlety and grace to take us in the world of Umrao Jaan.

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14.Jeevan Dhara (1982)

Jeevan Dhaara is the story of Sangeeta Shrivastav (Rekha), a young, smart and decisive girl. Sangeeta is the sole breadwinner of the family which includes a helpless mother, an unemployed, alcoholic brother, a widowed sister, a sister in-law, and three kids, one of whom is blind. As you can already tell, Sangeeta’s life is a big struggle. She acts rough and tough because she feels that she needs to since she’s the man of the house. However, beneath all that, she knows there lies a soul who is vulnerable and kind. Though the film is a tad slow, it feels very authentic in the depiction of the characters. However, the film is Rekha’s through and through.

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15.Maang Bharo Sajana (1984)

In the film Maang Bharo Sajana, Jeetendra played the character of Chandru (Jeetendra). Chandru lived in a big house along with his family. He falls in love with Gita (Rekha), the daughter of a popular doctor. Gita too loves Chandru and so she takes him to meet his father. Chandru asks her dad for the permission to get married and he readily agrees. The two get engaged and the house begins the preparations for their marriage. However, on the occasion of the big day, Gita’s father tells Chandru that he found out he’s not actually the son of his mother but an illegitimate child. Now, it everything lies in the hands of Chandru to come clean.

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16.Utsav (1984)

With Ustav, Rekha suddenly set a whole new bar as to what’s considered as bold. Rekha played a courtesan named Vasantsena on the run from a lecherous Prince. She takes refuge in a common’s man house and after spending some time with him, falls in love. The film was an erotic one but told in a non-titillating way. It could also be termed as erotic poetry since it wa presented in such a mesmerising way. The music too was top notch. Rekha’s performance as Vasantsena is marvellous.

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17.Ijaazat (1987)

Taking a step away from the fierce and feisty roles, Rekha was seen in in a more tamed avatar in Ijaazat. Mahendra (Naseeruddin Shah) is deeply in love with Maya (Anuradha Patel). Maya does not believe in marriage but wants to continue her relationship with Mahendra. Later on, Mahendra caves in to family pressure and marries Sadhna (Rekha) but he is never able to get Maya out of his mind. Eventually, the marriage ends up failing and the two part their ways. Years later, Mahendra and Sadhna meet up and express how their lives have been since the two split. However,, Sadhna has one little secret that she hides from him. Ijaazat is simple, yet layered, subtle yet profound and overwhelmingly poetic and could be regarded as one of the best screenplays written by Gulzar. It makes you wonder, what was said, what was unsaid, what was implied, what was hidden and more importantly what was meant.

18.Pyaar Ki Jeet (1987) 

In Pyaar Ki Jeet, we see Rekha playing the character of Soni (Rekha), an innocent village girl, who was abducted by dacoits during her marriage with Dharma (Puneet Issar). Later on, she’s rescued by the police but when she goes back to her family, they disown her saying she’s impure. This obviously takes a big toll on her since she has nowhere to go now.

19.Khoon Bhari Maang (1988)

Aarti (Rekha) is a widow living with her father and two children. A young couple, Sanjay Verma and Nandini form a plan to take over her wealth. After Aarti’s father passes away, Sanjay woes her and they get married. Later on, he tries to kill her but fortunately for Aarti she survives the attack. Aarti gets a plastic surgery and establishes herself as a successful model named Jyoti. Now, she formulates a plan to get her revenge from Sanjay and Nandini for all their wrong deeds. The film has it all: drama, thriller, action, but it is just a very good film as a film and works as complete entertainer no matter what genre it belongs to.

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20.Lajja (2001)

Lajja was a story of women standing up to male chauvinism and in the film Rekha was seen as a village woman who always was a firm on her stance. The veteran actress deliberately under played her character and that’s what made it stand out from her previous ventures. Her character Ramdulaari was indeed a very complex one that featured many layers. As at times, you would feel she’s as strong as a rock and at times she was as frail and vulnerable as you can imagine. The way she portrayed her role proved that class is indeed permanent.

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