Birthday special: 30 photos of the ravishing Rekha you must see
Rekha's birth name is Bhanurekha Ganesan
Rekha was born in Chennai to legendary Tamil actor Gemini Ganesan and Telugu actress Pushpavalli. In pic: With Farooque Sheikh
Her parents were not married, and Ganesan did not even acknowledge his paternity during her childhood
After attaining stardom Rekha revealed that her father's betrayal always rankled her and hence she never reconciled with him
Rekha quit school and ventured into acting to support her family that was going through a financial crisis. In pic: With Rohini Hattangadi
Her first appearance on the big screen was as a child artist in the 1966 Telugu film 'Rangula Ratnama' She was credited as Baby Bhanurekha in the movie
Rekha debuted as heroine in the Kannada film Goa Dalli CID 999 (1969), which starred superstar Rajkumar. In pic: With Shashi Kapoor
She made her Bollywood debut with the 1970 film 'Sawan Bhadon' The movie also marked the debuts of Navin Nischol and Ranjeet
Rekha had actually started shooting for a film named 'Anjana Safar' in 1969, with Biswajit as the lead. The actress claimed that she was tricked into a kissing scene for the film.Anjana Safar ran into censorship trouble, and only released in 1979, renamed as Do Shikaari. In pic: With Kader Khan
Her earlier years in the industry were a struggle since she did not know Hindi, and had a lot of trouble conversing with co-workers
Some of her earlier movies did reasonably well. But, Rekha was heavily criticised for her unglamorous looks. In pic: With Rakesh Roshan
She worked extremely hard on her appearance though, and by the 80s was being referred to as a sex symbol
Rekha is noted among the most versatile actresses in Bollywood, having portrayed serious, comic as well as vengeful characters with ease. In pic: With Rakhee
In the 1978 film 'Ghar' she depicted the character of a rape victim, which won her plenty of plaudits
Unarguably, her most famous portrayal has been that of a courtesan in 'Umrao Jaan' (1981) for which she won the National Award. In pic: With Utpal Dutt
In 'Kalyug' (1981), a modern adaptation of Mahabharata, Rekha played the role of Supriya, a character based on Draupadi
Rekha also gave award-winning performances in films like 'Khoobsurat' (1980), 'Khoon Bhari Maang' (1988) and 'Khiladiyon ka Khiladi' (1996)
On the personal front, Rekha married Delhi-based industrialist Mukesh Aggarwal in 1990. However, the latter committed suicide a year later
There were rumours that Rekha had tied the knot with co-star Vinod Mehra, but the actress denied the same
Rekha was alleged to have a much-publicised love affair with superstar Amitabh Bachchan. In pic: With Lata Mangeshkar at a function
Yash Chopra's 'Silsila' (1981), which showed Big B and Rekha having an extramarital affair, released at a time when rumours of their real life affair were flying thick and fast. The movie though tanked at the box office and the duo haven't acted together since
Before 'Silsila', the Rekha-Big B duo featured in a number of hit films like 'Do Anjaane' (1976), 'Muqaddar Ka Sikander' (1978), 'Suhaag' (1979) and 'Mr. Natwarlal' (1979)
In 2010, the Government of India conferred the prestigious Padma Shri Award upon her. In pic: With Hrithik Roshan
In a career that has spanned four decades, Rekha has featured in nearly 180 films
Ghar (1978):- The newly married Aarti suffers a huge trauma when she is gang-raped. Scores like Aaj kal paaon, Tere bina gave her the winning edge.
Khubsoorat (1980):- Playing Manju Dayal who transforms a suppressed family by her free spirit, Rekha is best remembered for her two plaits and the line Nirmal anand
Umrao Jaan (1981):- Umrao Jaan, a famous Lucknowi courtesan's love for poetry and her heart-breaks was beautifully portrayed by gems like Dil cheez kya hai, Justuju jiski..
Silsila (1981):- Yash Chopra's Chandni had the ravishing actress in her gorgeous chiffons gyrating to Yeh kahan aa gaye hum and , Dekha ek khwab alongside Amitabh Bachchan.
Khoon Bhari Maang (1988):- Cheated and defaced by her second husband, Aarti Varma returns in a glam avatar and seeks revenge. A tailor made role for the talented diva.