Tabu: The Versatile Actress with 30 Years of Iconic Films

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By Filmi Khan

Tabu, most talented actress of Hindi film industry. Her full name is Tabassum Fatima Hashmi. She is known for her exceptional talent and versatile acting skills. Tabu was born on November 4, 1971, in Hyderabad. With a career spanning several decades, Tabu has established herself as one of the most accomplished actresses in the Indian film industry.

Picture: Social Media

She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including two National Film Awards, seven Filmfare Awards (including a record five Critics’ Awards for Best Actress), and two Filmfare Awards from South Indian film industry. She was awarded the Padma Shri, the fourth highest Indian civilian honor in 2011.

Picture: Social Media

She was born into a family of Jamal Hashmi and Rizwana. Her parents divorced when she was three years old. She was raised by her mother Rizwana who was a school teacher and her maternal grandparents were retired professors. After retirement they ran school. Her grandfather, Mohammad Ahsan, was a professor of Mathematics while her grandmother was a professor of English Literature.  her elder sister, Farah Naaz, was also an actress.

Tabu completed her schooling at St. Ann’s High School, Vijayanagar Colony, Hyderabad. Later she shifted to Mumbai in 1983 and studied at St. Xavier’s college. She is niece of famous actresses Shabana Azmi, Tanvi Azmi and Baba Azmi.

Tabu made her acting debut an uncredited appearance at the age of 11 in film Bazaar (1982), later she was seen in the Bollywood film “Hum Naujawan” (1985) at the age of 14; she played Dev Anand’s daughter in this film. However, her role in this film went unnoticed. She took a hiatus from acting and returned to the film industry with a bang in the early 1990s.

Picture: Social Media

Her first role as a leading lady was in the Telugu film Coolie No. 1 (1991) with Venkatesh. Her first Hindi film was Pehla Pehla Pyar (1994), which went unnoticed. She was noticed in the film Vijaypath (1994) opposite Ajay Devgan, for which she received the Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut. In the following year, she tasted success with the film Haqeeqat (1995) and romantic drama film Saajan Ki Baahon Mein (1995) with Rishi Kapoor and Raveena Tandon. Same year she appeared in the film, Prem, co-starring with Sanjay Kapoor, Boney and Anil Kapoor’s younger brother.

Tabu had eight releases in 1996. Her two films – Saajan Chale Sasural and Jeet were commercial successes, ranking in the top five films of that year. However, it was her performance in the film “Maachis” (1996) that catapulted her to stardom. Her portrayal of a Sikh woman in the backdrop of the Punjab insurgency earned her the National Film Award for Best Actress.

Picture: Social Media

Same year, she had major blockbuster films in the South film industry. She worked in the Telugu Blockbuster film “Ninne Pelladata,” opposite Nagarjuna, a film which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu. She won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress- Telugu for her performance. She also worked in Tamil cinema through the highly commercially successful Tamil film Kadhal Desam with Vineeth and Abbas in leading roles, directed by Kathir.

In 1997, she appeared in war drama film Border opposite Sunny Deol. She also appeared in Chachi 420 (1998). In 1999, she starred in two successful multi-starrers; the comedy Biwi No.1 and the family drama Hum Saath-Saath Hain, which went on to become the second highest-grossing, and the highest-grossing films of the year respectively. In 2000, Tabu starred in the comedy Hera Pheri and the drama Astitva.

 Tabu’s Career Highlights:

Throughout her career, Tabu has worked in a wide range of films spanning various genres, including drama, romance, comedy, and thriller. Some of her notable movies include:

Maachis (1996) – A critically acclaimed film that showcased Tabu’s acting prowess and won her a National Award.

Film: Machis
Picture: Social Media

Hu Tu Tu (1999)– She also received widespread critical acclaim for her performance in this film with critics describing her presence as the “most mesmerizing and eloquent”.

Film: Hu Tu Tu
Picture: Social Media

Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000) – A Tamil film where she played the role of a modern-day Desdemona in a contemporary Based on Jane Austen’s 1811 novel Sense and Sensibility.

Film: Kandukondain Kandukondain Picture: Social Media

Astitva (2000) – Tabu delivered a powerful performance as a woman who breaks societal norms and stands up for her choices.

Film: Astitva
Picture: Social Media

Chandni Bar (2001) – She portrayed a bar dancer in this gritty film, earning her another National Film Award.

Film: Chandni Bar
Picture: Social Media

Maqbool (2003) – Tabu was lauded for her role as Lady Macbeth in this adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.”

Film: Maqbool
Picture: Social Media

The Namesake (2006) – Her performance in Mira Nair’s film was highly praised, earning her international recognition.

Film: The Namesake Picture: Social Media

Haider (2014) – Tabu played a complex and pivotal role in this adaptation of “Hamlet,” once again showcasing her versatility.

Film: Haider
Picture: Social Media

Drishyam (2015 and 2022)– Her performance as a strict police officer investigating her son’s murder case received highly positive reviews, thus earning her third nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Film: Drishyam
Picture: Social Media

Andhadhund (2018)– She was seen as the parallel lead along with Ayushmann Khurrana and drew widespread critical acclaim.

Film: Andhadhund Picture: Social Media

Tabu has received numerous awards for her outstanding performances, including National Film Awards, Filmfare Awards, and many international honors. She is known for her ability to portray a wide range of characters with depth and authenticity.

Tabu is a very private individual when it comes to her personal life. She has been romantically linked with various people in the industry but has never publicly acknowledged any relationships. Her focus has always been on her career and craft.

Tabu’s contribution to Indian cinema is immense. She is celebrated for her powerful acting, choice of diverse roles, and ability to hold her own in both commercial and offbeat cinema. She continues to be a respected and sought-after actress in the Indian film industry.

Tabu’s career has demonstrated that talent and dedication can lead to sustained success in the film industry. Her journey from a young actor to an iconic figure in Indian cinema is a testament to her exceptional skills and versatility as an actress.

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