Tabu - born
November 4, 1970 in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India is an award-winning
Indian actress who has acted in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi and
American films. She has won the National Film Award for Best Actress
twice. She is best known for her critically acclaimed acting in a number
of films rather than achieving box office success.
Despite a few exceptions, Tabu is known best for her willingness to play
characters in artistic, low-budget films that go on to garner more
critical appreciation than they do substantial box office figures such
as in Maqbool (2003), Meenaxi: A Tale of Three Cities (2004) or The
Namesake (2007). Known to be selective on her film roles, she has said,
"I do films which move me and most of all, the unit and the director
should appeal to me."
Tabassum "Tabu" Hashmi began her career in the film Hum Naujawan (1985)
at the age of fifteen; she played Dev Anand's daughter in the film. Her
first role as an actress was in the Telugu film Coolie No. 1. Her first
release in Hindi as a leading lady was Pehla Pehla Pyar which went
un-noticed. She came into prominence with her role in Vijaypath (1994)
opposite Ajay Devgan for which she received the Filmfare Best Female
Debut Award. This was followed by many films that did not do well at the
In 1996, Tabu had eight releases. Two films Saajan Chale Sasural and
Jeet went on to be hits; both were within the top five films of that
year. Her other significant film, Maachis, was critically acclaimed.
Her role as a Punjabi woman caught in the rise of Sikh insurgency was
acclaimed; she went on to win her first National Film Award for Best
Actress for her performance.
Tabu first release of 1997 was Border. The movie was about the real life
events surrounding the Battle of Longewala during the 1971 Indo-Pak war.
She played the role of Sunny Deol's wife. Her role was small but the
film went on to be the biggest hit of 1997. That year, she also starred
in the critically acclaimed film Virasat. The film was an average
success at the box office; Tabu won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best
In 1999 she starred in two successful multi-starrer films Biwi No.1 and
Hum Saath Saath Hain: We Stand United. Both were the first and second
biggest hits of that year respectively. In 2000, the actress starred in
Hera Pheri and Astitva. The former was a box office success whilst the
latter was critically acclaimed. She received her third Filmfare Critics
Award for Best Performance for Astitva.
2001 saw her star in Chandni Bar directed by Madhur Bhandarkar. Her
portrayal of a bar dancer met with unanimous praise, and she won her
second National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance.
Critic, Taran Adarsh said, "Chandni Bar is Tabu's film all the way and
there are no two opinions on that. Her performance deserves the highest
marks and of course, all the awards. Her work is flawless and the impact
her character makes on the minds of the viewer is also due to a
tailor-made role". Another critic mentioned, "if there is one actress
who can carry a film on her shoulders, it is Tabu. As usual, she
She has acted in a number of Telugu movies, many of them very
successful, such as Coolie No. 1 and Ninne Pelladatha, the latter being
one of her most famous and popular movies.
In 2003, Tabu starred in an adaptation of William Shakespeare's Macbeth.
The actress played Nimmi based on the character Lady Macbeth. The film
titled Maqbool was directed by Vishal Bharadwaj and premiered at the
2003 Toronto International Film Festival. Maqbool was a box office
failure but was met with huge acclaim. Tabu's performance opened to much
appreciation; critic Ron Ahluwalia said, "Tabu shines in a dark role.
The most versatile actress in Bollywood takes to villainy like a second
nature. She is menacing and seductive, but keeps an innocent look on her
face, making her even viler. The way Tabu delivers her taunts simply
perfect. Her gradual insanity is heart-wrenching and her final outburst
is easily the highlight of the film." Another critic said, "Tabu is
fantastic in a complex role. Her performance in the film is worthy of
awards. After Chandni Bar, this is another role that will be remembered
for a long, long time."
She had a supporting role in Fanaa (2006), with Aamir Khan and Kajol.
The film went on to become the fourth biggest hit of that year.
In 2007, Tabu starred in her first Hollywood film, The Namesake,
directed by Mira Nair. The film was a huge hit overseas. She also
starred in Cheeni Kum in which she played a 34 year-old woman who falls
in love with a 64 year-old played by Amitabh Bachchan. Critics were
generally positive towards the film; Taran Adarsh said, "Tabu stands on
her feet despite a formidable co-star's domineering presence. She's
excellent." Though the film did not do as well domestically, it was a
huge hit overseas especially in UK and USA.
Tabu was born in Hyderabad. Soon after, her parents divorced. Her mother
was a school teacher and her maternal grandparents were retired
professors who ran a school. Her grandfather, Mohammed Ahsan was a
Mathematics professor and her grandmother was an English Literature
professor. Tabu moved to Mumbai in 1983 and studied at St. Xavier's
College for two years. she also went to St. Anns high school in
Hyderabad. She is the niece of Shabana Azmi and the younger sister of
actress Farha Naaz. She has homes in Mumbai and Hyderabad.
She is the life member of International Film And Television Club of
Asian Academy Of Film and Television, Noida.
In 1998, Tabu was charged with poaching two blackbucks in Kankani during
the filming of Hum Saath Saath Hain along with co-stars Salman Khan,
Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre and Neelam. The charges were dropped soon
after and Tabu was acquitted.