Bhanurekha Ganesan (born 10 October 1954), better known by her stage name Rekha, is an Indian film actress who has mainly appeared in Hindi films. Noted for her versatility and acknowledged as one of the finest actresses in Hindi cinema, Rekha started her career in 1966 as a child actress in the Telugu film Rangula Ratnam, which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu for that year, though her film debut as a lead happened four years later with Sawan Bhadon (1970). Despite the success of several of her early films, she was often panned for her looks and it was not until the mid-to-late 1970s that she got recognition as an actress. Since the late 1970s, after undertaking a physical transformation, she has been featured as a sex symbol in the Indian media.
Rekha has acted in over 180 films in a career spanning over 40 years. Throughout her career, she has often played strong female characters and, apart from mainstream cinema, appeared in arthouse 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. Though her career has gone through certain periods of decline, she has reinvented herself numerous times and has been credited for her ability to sustain her status. In 2010, she was honoured with the Padma Shri by the Government of India.