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Tata Tabassum

Updated on: 20 November,2022 07:24 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Upala KBR , Priyanka Sharma |
Written by: Letty Mariam Abraham |

Co-stars Anil Kapoor, Sudha Chandran and Indraneil Sengupta remember the veteran actor-host’s zest for life and child-like laughter

Tata Tabassum


Hindi cinema has lost its smile. Veteran actor-television host Tabassum, whose association with the screen was as long as India’s Independence, has passed away. Tabassum died on Friday following a cardiac arrest. She was 78.

“She was admitted to a hospital due to gastro problems. She suffered from two cardiac arrests in an interval of two minutes and passed away around 8.40 pm,” her son Hoshang Govil said, adding that the funeral took place on Saturday. Her family has organised a prayer service scheduled for Monday to “celebrate her legacy and beautiful smile”.

At a young age, Tabassum entered the industry with the screen name ‘Baby Tabassum’ in the film Nargis (1947). Her screen presence ensured that she soon became the first choice for younger versions of then prominent actors like Nargis (Deedar, 1951) and Meena Kumari (Baiju Bawra, 1952). Tabassum took a gap from the screen and then returned in the ’60s as an adult actor. But her relationship with the big screen wasn’t the same anymore. That’s when Tabassum took to television, which was at its nascent stage in the country. She loved movies, not the medium. So, in 1972, Tabassum began hosting Indian TV’s first talk show, Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan, which featured her interviewing film stars.

Also Read: Sharmila Tagore: Tabassum knew how to hold an audience

Anil Kapoor, who featured alongside Tabassum in the 1986 comedy Chameli Ki Shaadi, which was also among her last film appearances, shares he and his family were big fans of her talk show that they named their 1978 production starring Rishi Kapoor and Moushumi Chatterjee after the show. “That was the impact of her show. She was a lovely lady, always cheerful and positive, smiling and laughing, vibrant, and full of energy. She was one of the pioneers of hosting shows,” Kapoor says.

It was a moment of honour for dancer-actor Sudha Chandran to feature alongside the yesteryear actor in her film, Nache Mayuri (1986). Chandran claims she grew up watching Tabassum’s Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan. The actor shot for Tabassum Talkies (her YouTube channel) a few days before the veteran actor’s sudden death. “Age was just a number for her. She had so many anecdotes to share and was always full of life and cheer. For me, it was like a dream come true to sit and talk to someone with [such an illustrious] career. Although it was 35 years ago that we worked on Nache Mayuri, but I remember being so young and star struck at that time. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. You could listen to her endlessly because she had a great command over language and an unexpected innocence.”

Popular television actor Indraneil Sengupta, who played her grandson in the show Pyaar Ke Do Naam: Ek Raadha Ek Shyaam (2006), remembers her as his grandmother even after the director said cut. While it is common for senior actors to wear a sense of seriousness in their demeanour, Tabassum always carried a child-like glee, says Sengupta. “She was fond of me and Barkha [Sengupta, his wife and co-star]. She never had the aura of a senior [actor] and was always like a grandmother showering you with love. There are many good people, but rarely do you find someone, who exudes positivity 24/7. Tabassum ji was that person,” he says.

Unlike most actors of yore, Tabassum always moved with the times and sought relevance. She was also a connoisseur of cinema, which made her seek a new audience in both old and young. In 2015, she launched her YouTube channel Tabassum Talkies, where she shared untold stories of iconic film artistes.

Journey in showbiz

. Nargis (1947)  
. Deedar (1951)  
. Baiju Bawra (1952)  
. Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan (1972)  
. Mughal-e-Azam (1960)  
. Tum Par Hum Qurban (1985)  
. Naache Mayuri (1986)  
. Pyaar Ke Do Naam: Ek Raadha, Ek Shyaam (2006)  
. Ladies Special (2009)  
. Tabassum Talkies  

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