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Rekha – The Essence of a Woman

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Year 1994. Sushmita Sen was crowned Miss Universe, the first ever from India. In the final round of the contest, she was asked “What is the essence of a woman?” And Ms.Sen replied – Just being a woman is God’s gift. The origin of a child is a mother, a woman. She shows a man what loving, caring and sharing is all about. That is the essence of a woman. True to those said words, a woman is a daughter, a mother, a sister, a wife, a friend, a lover. The very existence of nature. The essence of a woman is not about perfection, it is about carrying your imperfections with grace and being unapologetic about it to herself. It is also about defying the definitions given to her by society. Living out of the shell and growing in abundance. How many such women do you know who live out of that shell? Women who live out of that shell often have to face the brunt. They’re labelled, they’re ridiculed, they’re sometimes maligned and slandered too. But it is proven that they come out as winners. They often become the Goddesses. How about talking about one such screen Goddess? Rekha!! From an ugly duckling in Sawan Bhado (1971), her debut in Hindi films, to becoming the most gorgeous and the most sought after actress, Rekha certainly lived out of the shell all her life. Facing challenges right from her birth, the svelte diva went on to become the queen. She is as cogent in her real life as she was on screen. Essaying roles which are gutsy, glamorous and off beat. She brought out the essence of a woman perfectly with each role she played.

1. A Daughter – Jeevan Dhara (1982)
After her father leaves the house, Sangeeta (Rekha), a young working girl, takes charge of running the family. She has no other option left since she has the responsibility of an old mother, a widowed sister, a drunkard brother and his family. Rekha looks beautiful throughout and carries the entire film on her shoulders just as she carries the responsibility of her family.

2. Mother – Khoon Bhari Maang (1988)
An unattractive young mother who is widowed at a young age, escapes a murder conspired by her second husband, comes back as a superwoman to save her children and the wealth of the family from his clutches. Rekha plays Aarti Verma the mother, with such ease and grace.

3. Wife – Ghar (1978)
This film happens to be one of her best where she plays not only a newly wed young woman, but a rape victim, traumatised and unable to trust any male. The trauma leaves her shocked and the couple’s life becomes devoid of all the love, trust and attraction.

4. Sister – Khoobsurat (1980)
The film which gave Rekha her first filmfare award. Khoobsurat brought out the intelligent actor in her. Playing the younger sister, Manju Dayal, Rekha won the accolades not only for her makeover but for the conviction with which she played the role.

5. Daughter-in-Law – Biwi Ho Toh Aisi (1988)
Rekha plays Shalu, a so-called illiterate girl who marries Suraj (Farooq Shiekh). She plays the loving daughter-in-law against the scheming and intimidating mother-in-law, Bindu.

6. The Other Woman – Silsila (1981)
Silsila, which was surrounded with a lot of controversies, good music and equally good actors, gave Rekha’s career a new leash. She started experimenting with newer kind of roles including the off beat cinema. Chandni (Rekha) married to Dr. Anand (Sanjeev Kumar), rekindles her romance with Amit (Amitabh Bachchan), who is married to Shobha (Jaya Bhaduri). Rekha manages to gain the sympathy of the audience rather than facing the brunt as a the other woman.

7. The Suffering Wife – Ijaazat (1987)
If Silsila was about Rekha playing the other woman, Ijaazat was just the opposite. Married to Mahendra (Naseeruddin Shah), who is romantically involved with Maya (Anuradha Patel) and continues doing so even after their marriage, Rekha plays the role of Sudha with aplomb. She remains a humble and a dedicated wife till she’s no longer able to bear the weight of their relationship.

8. Courtesan – Umrao Jaan (1981)
Rekha was as if born to play this role. She absolutely stunned everybody with the sensitivity and integrity which she poured into making the character of Umrao Jaan. From Ameeran who is abducted at a young age to blossoming into a poetess and a reluctant courtesan Umrao, Rekha has literally lived the role, winning the National award deservingly.

9. Club singer – Parineeta (2005)
Just when everyone thought Rekha had retired and gone into an oblivion, she not only returned but blazed the screen with a sensual number, that too at the age of 51. Dancing and singing a la Moulin Rouge, Rekha was as convincing in this miniscule role as a club dancer as she was with all her major roles.

Apart from all the above said roles, she has a repertoire of roles worth an envy for any good actor. An inspiration to other actors, Rekha symbolizes the woman of great inner strength, resilience and fortitude. An ageless beauty, a girl at heart, celebrating her joys and sorrows and elucidating the essence of a woman!!

Avid music lover and Dev Anand fan

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