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in Madras, Madras State, India
Bhanurekha Gemini Ganesan
The Bollywood Queen
5′ 7″ (1.7 m)
Mini Bio (2)
Bhanurekha was born in the Tamil-speaking Ganesan household on October 10, 1954. Her dad was the popular Tamil actor, Gemini, while her mom was a popular Telugu actress, Pushpavalli. She has seven sisters and one brother. One of her sisters is Dr. Kamala Selvaraj, while another one, Radha, lives in San Francisco with a son named Naveed, who is being readied to act in Bollywood movies.
No stranger to the tinsel screen, Bhanurekha acted in a Telugu movie ‘Rangula Ratnam’ as Baby Bhanurekha along with her mom during 1966, which was subsequently re-made and released in Hindi during 1976 as Rangila Ratan (1976). She acted in one more Telugu as well as one Kannada movie (Amma Kosam and Goadalli CID 999 respectively) before re-locating to Bombay.
Due to her background, she ended up being very gloomy and pessimistic during her early years. She get a chance to debut in Bollywood movies during 1970 with Sawan Bhadon (1970) opposite Navin Nischol with a screen name of Rekha. Inability to speak Hindi, a dusky complexion as well as her weight did not exactly add to her assets in a predominantly fair-skinned, Hindi-speaking North-Indian film industry.
She decided to take matters seriously, took Yoga, shed those extra pounds, learned Hindi and dancing, and thus was born a new and much improved Rekha – who went on to deliver one box office hit after another for example Nagin (1976), Muqaddar Ka Sikandar (1978), Mr. Natwarlal (1979), Khubsoorat (1980), Umrao Jaan (1981), Khoon Bhari Maang (1988) amongst others. In her later years she has taken up character roles and appeared as a mother, even a grandmother in Krrish (2006).
Her slim, slender looks got her many admirers, including well established Bollywood actors such as Kiran Kumar , Jeetendra, Vinod Mehra, and Amitabh Bachchan’. In 2004, in a television interview with Simi Garewal, she rejected a long-standing rumor that she was once married to Vinod Mehra. She referred to him as a well-wisher and stated that her only marriage was to a businessman, Mukesh Aggarwal. This marriage ended when Mukesh killing himself shortly thereafter, leaving her a widow. She has never remarried.
She likes to surf the Internet, has written biographies of actresses like Zeenat Aman, and Salma Agha on IMDb, likes to collect old photographs and postcards, mimic people, watch movies, and practices Yoga regularly, read comics like Archie and Dennie the Menace, and is a vegetarian. She now lives with her Secretary, Farzana, and pets in a self-owned bungalow in Bandra (West)in Mumbai.
Bhanurekha Ganesan, better known by her stage name Rekha (born 10 October 1954) is a Bollywood Indian actress. Rekha has acted in over 180 films in a career that has spanned over 40 years. Throughout her career, she has often played strong female characters and, apart from mainstream cinema, appeared in art-house films, known in India as parallel cinema.
She has won three Filmfare Awards, two for Best Actress and one for Best Supporting Actress, for her roles in Khubsoorat (1980), Khoon Bhari Maang (1988) and Khiladiyon Ka Khiladi (1996), respectively. Her portrayal of a classical courtesan in Umrao Jaan (1981) won her the National Film Award for Best Actress.
Rekha rarely gives interviews, and she mostly avoids parties and events. In 2011, Rediff listed her as the ninth-greatest Indian actress of all time.
(1990 – 1991) (his death)
Trade Mark (2)
Her seductive voice
She has mesmeric eyes that she uses with devastating effect
Daughter of Gemini Ganesan and Pushpavalli.
Does yoga every day to maintain her ageless look.
Formed a popular screen couple with Amitabh Bachchan, with whom she made a total of nine films as a heroine to him and with Jeetendra with whom she worked as his heroine in 26 films.
Was obese and plump in her first films in the early 70s but underwent a spectacular transformation and became the ageless icon of beauty and glamour of Bollywood.
Credits the regular nutritious diet and exercise as the secret to her ageless face and figure.
Has been called the Madonna and Cher of the Bollywood industry because of her constant reinvention throughout her career.
Has gained icon status in Bollywood cinema for her four decade career in the industry.
Was considered for the lead in Market (2003)
When she played the teacher of the Kama Sutra in the controversial film Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996), many people at the time thought that it would put an end to her career.
Has a younger sister who resides in California.
Was considered for the role of Queen Noor Jehan in the movie Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story (2005).
The entire Bollywood industry was shocked in the early 80s when Rekha’s secret affair was revealed with Amitabh Bachchan, who was married to Jaya Bhaduri. Oddly enough, the three of them later starred in the film Silsila (1981), which dealt with the topic of a married man in love with woman other than his wife. This would be Rekha and Amitabh Bachchan’s last film together.
In 2001, she tried to stop author Mohan Deep from publishing a biography on her called ‘Eurekha!’. She failed but would visit bookstores and ask the owners not to keep copies of ‘Eurekha!’ on their shelves.
Loves to read comics. Her favourites include Dennis The Menace and Archie.
Was good friends with actress Meena Kumari before Meena’s death.
Used to have a dog named Pisti who passed away. She now has a cat called Bhaiyyu.
Some of her favorite western singers include Laura Branigan, Barbra Streisand, Bryan Adams, Whitney Houston and Sting.
Says that if she could change one thing about herself, it would be her hips.
Has a large collection of of tissue Kanjeevaram and chiffon saris, most of which are of the color gold.
Said that if she had a son, she would want him to be like Hrithik Roshan. Her dream came true when she played Hrithik’s mom in the movie Koi… Mil Gaya (2003) and also his grandmother in Krrish (2006).
Loves nature, and enjoys working in her garden and taking care of her plants.
In 1986, forty-eight pieces of her expensive jewelery was stolen from her house. The thief, Muniraj Kanappa, was later caught and sentenced to seven years in prison. The court held the jewelery and planned on giving it back after she filed the due application form. But it wasn’t until 17 years later that she remembered this and then went in to collect her jewelery.
Could barely speak a word of Hindi at the start of her career. She learned Hindi and then later learned the nuances of Urdu for her role of a courtesan in Umrao Jaan (1981).
Is a huge fan of Oprah Winfrey and watches her show regularly.
Is a vegetarian.
She is very active on the Internet, especially on sites about movies. She is also a staunch feminist.
Has a search engine named after her with the domain name www.rekha.com.
Listed #50 by the UK magazine Eastern Eye one of “Asia’s Sexiest Women” (Sept/2006).
Has seven sisters and one brother.
Ranked #5 by rediff.com in its list of the “Top 10 Bollywood Actresses Ever”. (March 2007).
Even though the movies she has made are in Hindi, her mother tongue is actually Tamil.
Jeetendra-Rekha were romantically paired in 26 films and 15 were hits.
Rekha was the 2nd highest paid Hindi actress from 1979-81 and 1st highest paid Hindi actress along-with Reena from 1982-1984 and 3rd highest paid Hindi actress from 1987-92.
Step-nephew of actor Abhinay Vaddi (Gemini Ganesan and Savitri’s grandson).
Actor Abhinay Vaddi is her step nephew. Sister Vijaya’s son.
Nephew Naveed Ozman from San Fransisco, attempted to become a actor in Bollywood in 2008. He left and went back to San Fransisco after a year because he was not able to sign any films.
Rekha’s nephew Naveed Syed (Ozman) is married to former actor Sameer Khan’s daughter Seher Khan. Sameer Khan is the younger brother of actor Feroz Khan. Naveed and Sehar have two boys.
Sister Dhanalakshmi is married to actor Tej Sapru.
Was engaged to Raja Khara. He is the brother in law of actor Karan Shah.
Was engaged to wealthy businessman Raja Khara in 1992. Raja’s sister Ameera was married to actor Karan Shah in the early 90’s .
Brother named Sheshu who passed away in 1991. Not much is known about him.
Featured in the international Harper and Queens magazine in 1987.
Personal Quotes (32)
When asked about the doctors that say they did plastic surgeries on her: “I wish I could meet all those surgeons. Every once in a while, some doctor claims to have done some operation on me.”
I’m a very shy person. Unlike what has been insinuated, it’s not a strategy to retain my aura. I’m not trying to live up to any mystery woman image.
Now people might think that I am not married and I have no children, the conventional lifestyle you know, but I see it this way: as long as you are alive, you have a chance to have a future. At least there is hope.
I devoted thirty-one years of my life to this industry and in turn this industry has given me everything that I can be proud of – name, fame and the perks that go with stardom.
Well loneliness is still a part of me, but being alone is not necessarily being lonely.
Sometimes I really wish my life were as exciting as people think it is. Let me also add that my private life is mine alone. I don’t want to bare it for discussion and dissection. Because my life can be misunderstood and misinterpreted.
Among the models I admire, I find Aishwarya is the best. I disagree with the media that she is ‘plastic’. I find her very expressive.
I have had the best of both worlds. My profession cannot but thrust me into contact with people all the time. I am a lover of life, very curious, a good listener. I observe, I evaluate. Interacting with co-stars, fans, guests all the time can be nerve-wrenching. But when I meet people, I learn, I evaluate, I marvel, I absorb, I remember, and that helps me grasp and process it back at home.
One thing that has influenced my personal life, my career, my attitude, the person I have become and every decision that I have made is the fact that I have been a loner as a child. I have been more or less on my own. In that case, one can feel sorry for oneself. But, in my case, it gave me more time to observe.
I don’t care much for success – it’s an alien word to me. I don’t believe in success, I don’t believe in achievements so to speak. I just believe in relishing every moment of my life. That’s enough for me.
On winning the Stardust Role Model Award: “Thank you Stardust for honoring me with this award. I’m indeed gratified. I don’t have to say much. My smile and the audiences’ smile says it all. I have been around in this industry for the last 36 years, but I promise I will entertain you for another 63 years.” (February 2006)
(July 2006, about Hrithik Roshan): Hrithik epitomizes everything precious in a man, be it as a son, lover or as a husband. This kid is a complete human being.
When asked if she would have a problem doing sexual roles at her age: “After Aastha: In the Prison of Spring (1997) people had a lot to say about my role of a wife who moonlights as a prostitute. I don’t have problems playing anything. I’ve reached a stage where I could do justice to any role that came my way. It could be Maa ka role (the role of a mother), bhabhi ka role (the role of a young woman). negative, positive, sensational or anything.” (October 2006)
About Aishwarya Rai Bachchan taking on her role in the remake of Umrao Jaan (1981): “I am so fond of Ash. Even when she was a model, I was very positive of her achievements, and had huge expectations from her. People might think I’m prejudiced but I truly believe that even though ‘Umrao Jaan’ has done a lot for us, it will do a lot more for Ash. She truly deserves it.” (October 2006)
About Aishwarya Rai: “I think she has got a very raw deal. She’s our treasure but she’s neither here nor there, with one foot in Hollywood. She has not had anything great since Devdas (2002). I will fight for her like a tigress if need be.” (October 2006)
“My heart goes out to Ash. She’s been around for so long and yet not been there. That’s how it was with me…until I did Umrao. It seemed improbable that a Tamilan girl talking Urdu would work. Similarly this South Indian girl should realize her potential in Umrao. She doesn’t need to go to Hollywood to prove herself. She’s our own. Why Bride & Prejudice (2004)? Who are these people from outside trying to tap Ash’s potential? She’s our treasure. It’s time we acknowledge her.” (October 2006)
“I don’t feel the pinch, you know, or the sting. It’s gone. I’m healed now. I’m not bitter anymore.” (October 2006)
When asked what she was like as a teenager: “Wow! At that point all I wanted was to be married. And to be loved, and to spend the rest of my life with somebody who truly, truly, truly cared for me, and have children. Lots, and lots, and lots of children. I wonder why I felt like that then.” (October 2006)
“I didn’t have an idea. I don’t know what a man is all about, what he’s supposed to be. Is he supposed to be a provider? Is he supposed to be a lover? Yes, I knew the lover part. I knew that by heart. I knew that my man had to be a lover. He had to love me to death. Because I didn’t know any better.” (October 2006)
“I was never a kind of person who voiced my impressions or my feelings. I never told anybody what I feel. I was very shy, to open my mouth when there are men around.” (October 2006)
“I didn’t know what the word father mean’t. When you think of father, when you mention the word father, it’s someone in the church. That’s all I know of a father.” (October 2006)
When asked if she is afraid of aging: “If I let these thoughts affect me, I wouldn’t be able to be creative. I’m petrified of falling ill and going to the hospital. However, disasters are a part and parcel of life. I cannot avoid them. But when a catastrophe happens, I’d like to see it as a signal to go into another phase of my life. So, in a silly masochistic way, I welcome pain because it will help me grow.” (Dec 9, 2006)
When asked if she regretted not having children: “Not any more. I do not miss children. Even if I find the ultimate man to have babies with, it’d be very unfair to my priorities. Because if I have a baby, I won’t be able to focus on anything else. Then what happens to the babies all over the world with whom I’m connected?” (Dec 9, 2006)
“I never thought I’d be home alone, with all my sisters married and gone. I never thought I’d not have my own family, my own children.” (Dec 9, 2006)
“Loner is just a word. It means I spend most my time on my own. Going by my nature, it’s the most comfortable situation to be in. My god! Think of all the time I get to reason out things, not analyze situations, that’s such a waste of time. But you’ve got to analyze things. And I never consciously created that time. It was bestowed on me.” (Dec 9, 2006)
“I don’t have to spend hours planning and executing my clothes and makeup. I’ve done it for 40-odd years. I can’t bring myself to spend more than 15 minutes on makeup and clothes.” (Dec 9, 2006)
On meeting her ideal man someday: “May be I’m being unreal and impractical, but I’m not in denial. If I find someone who’s willing to share me with my fans, I might change my mind. If I had a man, I’d just be devoting all my attention to that one person. I’ll take out his clothes, personally monitor his menu, prepare the lunch and personally deliver it to him.” (Dec 9, 2006)
Maybe beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, in one self. So what? I don’t care if it’s said she’s on some sort of spiritual trip, she’s obscure, vague, not normal.. she wants to be different. I’m not so different.. but people don’t want to be common or normal. They have put me on a high pedestal.. or think I’m alien.. or.. (February 2008)
I’ve done concerts twice in my life.. in ’87 and ’97. Maybe this is the year to start planning a concert.. it has to be done right. I don’t want to be running all over the place like a headless chicken. (February 2008)
On why she never adopted a child: Because it is the hardest job ever. As if.. not more responsible as a teacher’s job. I know what it is to be deprived of a father’s love. I would want a child to have both parents. That’s why I’ve never thought of adoption.. or of having a child out of wedlock. (February 2008)
The moment you’re a star, you’re no longer normal. That’s a curse you’ve got to live with. (January 1997)
I like shooting after three in the afternoon. I sleep on my face and it tends to get puffy in the mornings. The face actually starts settling after noon and is at its best around six in the evening. (April 1978)