Umrao Jaan, Khoobsurat and more: Films where Rekha was ‘the hero’

  • Sweta Kaushal, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 10, 2016 08:23 IST
Rekha in a still from Umraao Jaan. (YouTube)

With Rekha as the female lead, heroes could never be assured of their stardom. It’s true that Rekha was limited to some insignificant films such as Sawan Bhaadon (1970) and Rampur Ka Lakshman (1972) early in her career, but the ultimate diva started to carve a niche for herself once she got established in the Hindi film industry.

To mark her 62nd birthday on Monday, we revisit five films in which Rekha proved that she is the most adored heroine Bollywood has ever seen.

1. Umrao Jaan (1981): Rekha got her first National Film Award (for best actress) in director Muzaffar Ali’s Umraao Jaan. The pain and struggles of a courtesan’s life were perfectly reflected in her eyes when she lip-synced to Khayyam’s tunes in the movie.

2. Khoobsurat (1980): No other actor could do justice to this bubbly, radical character Rekha played in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s film. As Manju, Rekha turns a strict disciplinarian’s house run by Dina Pathak into one where warmth, fun and values thrive together. She bagged her first Filmfare Award for Khoobsurat.

3. Khoon Bhari Mang (1988): Rekha was now a star in her own right and even a commercial filmmaker like Rakesh Roshan was ready to ride his film on her shoulders alone. The transformation of a meek, innocent Aarti into a fierce Jyoti who can fight her own battles and win them too, Rekha displayed her wide acting range. Rekha bagged another Filmfare for her performance in this movie.

4. Kama Sutra (1996): This Mira Nair film was one of the boldest films Bollywood could have made at a time when traditional emotional dramas were ruling the box office. Rekha played Rasa Devi, a Kama Sutra teacher who taught woman and girls the ancient art of seduction and love making. The film was banned from releasing in Indian theatres as it showed homosexuality explicitly.

5. Lajja (2001): Rekha played one of the four women whose stories throw light on the plight of Indian women in this Rajkumar Santoshi film. Essaying the role of a poor but strong woman who fights bravely against the goons of her village before they rape and burn her alive, Rekha displayed much angst and strength in the film.

Did we miss some of her iconic roles? Share them with us @htshowbiz.

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