Tabu: Do you know the 48-year-old actress' real name is Tabassum Fatima Hashmi?

Updated: Jan 30, 2020, 10:22 | Nikita Wagh
  • Tabu

    Born on November 4, 1971, as Tabassum Fatima Hashmi, the actress is known as Tabu (her pet name) in the Indian film industry. Tabu has primarily acted in Hindi films, in addition to English, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Marathi and Bengali language films. (All photos/Tabu's official Instagram account, AFP and mid-day archives)

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    When she was working on her first film as a child artiste in Hum Naujawan, 1985, Dev Anand thought Tabassum's pet name - Tabu - was beautiful, and that she should adopt it as her screen name. And that just never changed. Nobody has ever called her Tabassum, except for her teachers and school friends. Tabu came to Bombay right after school.

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  • Tabu

    Tabu was born to Jamal Hashmi and Rizwana to a Hyderabadi Muslim family. Veteran actress Shabana Azmi is Jamal Hashmi's sister, thus, Tabu is Shabana Azmi's niece.

    In picture: Tabu shared this picture on Instagram and wrote alongside, "The colour of memories.. Mummy, Bahen and Chanda the possessive one! #hyderabad #childhood"

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    Tabu went to St. Annes High school in Hyderabad and moved to Mumbai in 1983. She then studied at St. Xavier's College for two years. Her parents divorced when she was a child. Her mother was a school teacher and her maternal grandparents were retired professors who ran a school.

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    Tabu told in an exclusive interview with mid-day, "We used to come every summer for our holidays, because my mum's older brother, Ishaan Arya, was a DoP, he shot Garam Hawa [1973], Bazaar [1982]. I grew up with his sons Sameer and Sagar, we were like siblings. My sister [Farah] and I were at Dev Saab's office, where he was taking a screen test, and because he thought she was so beautiful, he took her screen test as well. I did the movie. We forgot her screen test. She was 16."

    In picture: Tabu shared this pretty picture with mother and captioned it: If I were to take a million births all I'd wish for is to be born to you. If the only thing I can be is to be your daughter, it's the only thing I'd ever be.

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    But before Hum Naujawan, Tabu did a small appearance in the film Bazaar in 1980. Tabu's mother's (pictured here) older brother, Ishaan Arya, was a DoP of Bazaar.

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    "And one day, we got a call from Yash Chopra. He told my mother about wanting to cast my sister [for the film Faasle, 1985], since Dev Saab had showed him her screen test. My mum didn't know who Yash Chopra was, she checked with my aunt [Shabana], everyone was really excited. This is how my sister and mom moved to Bombay, and I was too attached to Hyderabad and my school, so I stayed back with my aunt for three years. By then my sister had done a thousand films, and become a big star. And due to my sister, there was natural curiosity in the industry if I'd like to act in films too. Shekhar [Kapur] Uncle saw me, said I had to debut in [his film] Prem, which I said no to. He insisted that I do just this one film, and that he would then send me abroad for further studies. Which never happened. In fact, I did the film, and he ran away [from the project]," she further added.

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  • Tabu

    In December 1987, Boney Kapoor launched two major films - Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja and Prem. In Prem, Tabu was signed opposite Sanjay Kapoor. The film took eight years in the making and it was the biggest flop in Boney Kapoor's production career. Tabu's career took off well after this film, in spite of the long delay.

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    Very few know that Tabu's first role as an actress was in the Telugu film Coolie No 1, along with the south superstar Venkatesh, which released in 1991.

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    Tabu's first release in Hindi as a leading lady was Pehla Pehla Pyar, which hit theatres in 1994. Though the film remained unnoticed by a lot of fans, Tabu tasted success with her role in Vijaypath, (1994) opposite Ajay Devgn. Tabu also bagged the Filmfare Best Female Debut Award for the film. This was followed by many films that did not do well at the box office.

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    In 1996, Tabu had eight movie releases in her kitty. Among them, two of her films - Saajan Chale Sasural and Jeet - went on to be superhits. Both her movies were within the top five films of that year. Her other significant film, Maachis, which also starred Chandrachur Singh, was critically acclaimed. Her role as a Punjabi woman caught in the rise of the Sikh insurgency was acclaimed; she went on to win her first National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance.

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    It's not just Maachis that helped her to bag the National Award; in 2001, the audience saw her star in Chandni Bar directed by Madhur Bhandarkar. Tabu's portrayal of a bar dancer garnered her praises all over, and it was for the same role that she won her second National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance.

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    It is not just the Hindi film industry where Tabu has made it big. She starred in the Telugu blockbuster Ninne Pelladata, opposite Nagarjuna, a film which won her the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu. In 2000, Tabu and Aishwarya Rai starred in the Tamil film 'Kandukondain Kandukondain', which also featured Mammootty and Ajith Kumar.

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  • Tabu and Rishi Kapoor

    Tabu credits acting for shaping her personality to an extent that she finds it hard to define her life without cinema. "There has been immense growth and progress in my personality through my work. The people I've interacted with, the films I've done... the bandwidth increases. That's the thing of value for me. I don't know how I would define myself minus my acting. People know me because of my work, my career."

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    Tabu will be next seen in Jawaani Jaaneman, co-starring Saif Ali Khan and Alaya F. Tabu plays Alaya F's on-screen mother, who is born out of wedlock. "[My character] is free-spirited, almost like a hippie. She randomly gets into relationships and has a child out of wedlock. As actors, we are searching for something that can show us in a different light, and this film offered that. It's a cameo but I knew I wanted to do this film at the first [reading]. This character is whacky and deserves a stand-alone film," she laughs.

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  • Tabu

    While lesser actors may have flinched at the idea of playing Alaya F's mother in the comedy, Tabu is evidently excited about her role. In an industry that is unfortunately ageist, she hasn't shied away from experimenting—at 28, the actor essayed the role of woman in her fifties in Astitva (2000).

    Here's wishing good luck to Tabu!

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About The Gallery

Did you know Tabu played the role of Dev Anand's daughter in a film? As Tabu's latest release Jawaani Jaaneman is all set to hit theatres on January 31, 2020, we dig up some interesting facts about her Bollywood career. Read more to know the journey of the critically acclaimed actress