1. Shabana Azmi,  Ishq Ishq Ishq, India, 1976.   Padmini Kapila agreed to co-star with superstar Dev Anand. But their co-star, Zeenat Aman, was upset at  how close they were  getting  and wanted her gone. Dev considered Rekha for the rôle (still called Pammi, his nickname for Padmini). And finally selected Azmi – her second step on the ladder to superstardom. Big as he was Anand completed just 117 screen roles. By 2021, Azmi had delivered 160.
  2. Sharmila Tagore, Namkeen (Salty), India, 1982.   Rekha was the first choice for the role of the salty Nimki, which finally went to Tagore – much to the annoyance of co-star Waheeda Rehman.  She was playing Sarmila’s mother.  And she was a mere eight years older than the Bengali actress!
  3. Sridevi, Chandni, India, 1989.  Rekha passed and suggested her fellow Bollywood veteran for  the title role.
  4. Aruna Irani, Saaz (Melody), India, 1997.   The problem about the movie  inspired by (rather than based upon) Bollywood’s star singers, Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosei, was that Shabana Azmi (who’d suggested the idea),  decided to be the younger sister. Therefore  all her rival stars  – Moushumi, Rekha, etc – refused point-blank to be her elder! Director Sai Paranjpe  thought  about Hema Malini – only to find Azmi wouldn’t work with her!  “I wanted to cast someone who could stand up to Shabana, who could look her in the eye and emote with equal poise and dynamism,” said Paranjpye. “ I’d admired Aruna’s talent for a long time and knew she could carry the script convincingly.” Raised in by her grandfather in Australia when he was the Indian commissioner (and  later studying under Jean-Louis Barrault in Paris), Paranjpye published her first book at age eight. “I am a writer first and then a director.” This is the 19th of her 21 features and documentaries.
  5. Rakhee Gulzar, Ek Rishtaa: The Bond of Love, India, 2001. Rekha and Amitabh Bachchan were a top box-office couple in nine films Not this one as the veteran Big A  threatened to quit if she were cast. Or Mrs A did. Her husband and  Rekha had been secret lovers for years.
  6. Manisha Koirala, Market, India, 2003. Chief among the veteran Bollywood queens (including Dimple Kapadiag and Sridevi) asked to play the courtesan Muskaan Bano. Rekha made 176 films in 42 years.
  7. Pooja Batra, Taj Mahal: An Eternal Love Story, India, 2005. Or how India’s greatest romance – Moghul emperor Shah Jahan and his queen, Noor Jahan –  led to world’s greatest tomb built in memory of  a lover.

 Birth year: Death year: Other name: Bhanurekha Gemi GanesanCasting Calls:  7