Tabu is a renowned Indian actress who primarily works in Hindi films, alongside Telugu, Tamil and English films. She is the recipient of numerous accolades, including two National Film Awards, six Filmfare Awards (including a record four Best Actress (Critics)), two Filmfare Awards South, and the fourth highest Indian civilian honour, Padma Shri. She received critical acclamation for starring in the Hindi films Maachis (1996), Virasat (1997), Hu Tu Tu (1999), Chandni Bar (2001), Astitva (2000), and Haider (2014). Her commercial successes include the Bollywood films Hum Saath-Saath Hain (1999), Hera Pheri (2000), and Andhadhun (2018) and the film series Drishyam.
Her parents divorced when she was three. Thereafter, she was raised by her highly educated maternal family in Hyderabad with her mother, who was a school teacher, and her maternal grandparents, who were retired professors running a school. While talking about the same in an interview, she said,
I had a great childhood, we lived in Hyderabad all our lives, I lived with my grandparents (mother’s parents), after my parents divorced. My mum was a teacher and so I ended up spending more time with her mother, and my grandmother would pray and read books, and I grew up with that.”
During her childhood, she was fond of listening to the radio, Binaca Geetmala and Chhaya Geet were her favourite programs. She also liked reading books in her leisure time like The Enchanted Garden by Iris Bromige and Alice In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. In an interview, while recalling her childhood, she said,
I was fond of the usual feminine frills and fancies, loved putting on talcum powder, had long hair and a favourite doll to play with…I did not have any desire to join films. I got into the movies by chance and timing, not out of a desire of wanting to be here.”
She did her schooling at St. Ann’s High School, Hyderabad. She stepped into the entertainment industry as a child artist at the age of 11 with the Hindi drama film Bazaar (1982) in which she has an uncredited role in the song Chale Aao Saiyan. She moved to Mumbai in 1983, where she attended St. Xavier’s College for two years. The Times of India
Height (approx.): 5′ 8½”
Weight: 65 kg
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Dark Brown
Body Measurements (approx.): 36-32-42
Parents & Siblings
Her father, Jamal Hashmi, was an actor. Her mother, Rizwana, is a school teacher. She has an elder sister, Farah Naaz, who was also an actress. Jamal and Rizwana divorced when Tabu was just three. Later, Jamal got remarried and has two daughters from his second wife.
Husband & Children
She is unmarried.
Her grandfather, Mohammed Ahsan, was a mathematics professor, while her grandmother was an English literature professor. Tabu is the niece of actress Shabana Azmi and cinematographer Baba Azmi.
Tabu fell in love with Sanjay Kapoor while they were shooting for the 1995 romantic Hindi film Prem, which took eight years in making (1987-1995). However, the affair ended with the film’s shoot. In an interview, while talking about his affair with Tabu Sanjay said,
I was dating Tabu at that time initially, but by the end of it, we were not talking to each other.”
Tabu started dating the film director and producer Sajid Nadiadwala while working on the film Jeet (1996). Tabu was a dear friend of Sajid and his wife, Divya Bharti (deceased). Sajid was coping with the loss of his wife, Divya Bharti, when he started dating Tabu. Reportedly, Sajid was hesitant to commit to Tabu because he still had feelings for his late wife. While Tabu had accepted the situation, Sajid’s indecisiveness pushed her way.
After Sajid, Tabu fell in love with the Telugu actor Akkineni Nagarjuna, who was a married man. The couple dated each other for 10 years; however, the relationship came to an end as Tabu realised that the actor was not going to leave his wife for her.
She resides at Anukul, 2nd Floor, 7 Bungalows, Andheri West, Mumbai 400058, India.
In 1991, she made her Tollywood debut with the romantic action film Coolie No.1 in which she played the role of a vainglory woman named Ranjani.
Her other hit Tollywood film is Ninne Pelladata (1996) in which she played Mahalakshmi “Pandu,” opposite Akkineni Nagarjuna. The film went on to win the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Telugu that year.
In the 1998 Telugu romantic comedy film Aavida Maa Aavide, Tabu gained immense appreciation for playing the role of S. I. Archana, opposite Nagarjuna.
Other commercial hit Telugu films under her belt include Chennakesava Reddy (2002), Andarivaadu (2005), and Pandurangadu (2008).
She gained popularity in Kollywood with her debut film Kadhal Desam (1996) in which she played Divya. The film was later released in Telugu as Prema Desam, which became an equally big success.
She started her career as a child artist. Following her uncredited appearance in Bazaar’s Chale Aao Saiyan (1982) at the age of 11, she appeared in Hum Naujawan (1985) at the age of 14. In the film, she played Priya, the daughter of Professor Hans Raj (played by Dev Anand).
In 1994, she made her Bollywood debut with the romantic film Pehla Pehla Pyar in which she played the role of Sapna, starring opposite Rishi Kapoor.
However, she was first cast in producer Boney Kapoor’s film Prem, which took eight years in making (1987-1995). Tabu was signed opposite Sanjay Kapoor in film. Although the film turned out to be a big flop in Boney Kapoor‘s production, Tabu’s career took off. She came into the limelight with Vijaypath (1994) in which she played Mohini/ Vrushali, opposite Ajay Devgan. Her performance in the film earned her a Filmfare Award for Best Female Debut.
In 1996, her role as Virender Kaur a.k.a. Veeran, as a Punjabi woman caught in the rise of Sikh insurgency, in the film Maachis was critically acclaimed. The role earned her the National Film Award for Best Actress.
In 1999, she appeared in 2 successful multi-starters, Biwi No.1 and Hum Saath-Saath Hain. While Biwi No.1 went on to become the highest-grossing film, Hum Saath-Saath Hain was the second-highest-grossing film of the year .
She won her second National Film Award for Best Actress for the film Chandni Bar (2001) in which she played the role of Mumtaz Sawant (née Ali Ansari), a displaced woman who is forced to become a beer-bar dancer and sire children of a gangster.
She appeared in Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider (2014), an adaptation film of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, in which she played the role of Ghazala Meer, the mother of Haider (played by Shahid Kapoor).
In 2018, she rose to prominence with the black comedy crime thriller Andhadhun (2018) in which she played the negative role of Simi Sinha, who cold-bloodedly murders her husband, an event that changes the life of a pianist posing to be blind, who must now report the crime.
Her most appraised performances were in the films Virasaat (1997), Chachi 420 (1997), Hera Pheri (2000), Maqbool (2003), Fanaa (2006), Cheeni Kum (2007), Drishyam (2014), and Fitoor (2016).
In 2000, she appeared in the Marathi-Hindi bilingual film Astitva in which she played the role of Aditi Pandit.
In the 1996 epic historical Malayalam film Kaalapani, she played the role of Parvathi / Parvathikutty, Dr Govardhan’s lover and later wife. Set in 1915, the film chronicles the lives of Indian independence activists imprisoned in the Cellular Jail (also known as Kālā Pānī) in Andaman and Nicobar Islands during the British Raj. The film catapulted to Tabu’s stardom all across South India.
In 2003, she appeared in the Bengali film Abar Aranye in which she played the role of Amrita, daughter of Ashim & Aparna.
In 1998, she made appeared in the French-Indian film titled Hanuman in which she played the role of Anja; Hanuman is her first English-language film.
In 2006, he made her Hollywood debut with the 2006 American drama film The Namesake in which she played Ashima Ganguli. The film showcased the struggles of Ashoke and Ashima, first-generation immigrants from West Bengal who relocate to the United States, and their American-born children, Gogol and Sonia.
She played the role of Gita Patel in the Canadian film Life of Pi, which accumulated Oscars in various categories.
She made her digital debut with the web series A Suitable Boy (2020) in which he played Saeeda Bai, a singer and a courtesan. In the series, Maan (played by Ishaan Khatter) becomes infatuated with Saeeda Bai despite the fact that she is much older than him.
In 1998, Tabu was charged under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 for poaching two blackbucks on the outskirts of Kankani village in the Jodhpur district of Rajasthan during the filming of Hum Saath Saath Hain along with co-stars Salman Khan, Saif Ali Khan, Sonali Bendre, and Neelam Kothari. On 5 April 2018, Tabu was acquitted by the Jodhpur court in the case, while Salman Khan was proven to be guilty and sentenced to a 5-year jail term. India Today
Accusing Jackie Shroff of Molestation
Awards, Honours, Achievements
- 1995: Best Female Debut for Vijaypath (1994)
- 1998: Best Actress (Critics) for Virasat (1997)
- 2000: Best Actress (Critics) for Hu Tu Tu (1999)
- 2001: Best Actress (Critics) for Astitva (2000)
- 2008: Best Actress (Critics) for Cheeni Kum (2007)
- 2015: Best Supporting Actress for Haider (2014)
- 2023: Best Actress (Critics) for Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 (2022)
Filmfare Awards South
- 1997: Best Actress – Telugu for Ninne Pelladutha (1996)
- 2022: Best Supporting Actress – Telugu for Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (2020)
National Film Awards
- 1997: Best Actress for Maachis (1996)
- 2003: Best Actress for Chandni Bar (2001)
- 1998: Smita Patil Memorial Award for Best Actress
- 2011: Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award, for her Contribution towards Arts of Cinema
- 2021: South Indian International Movie Awards Best Supporting Actress – Telugu for Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo (2020)
- Film: Golmaal (1979)
- Actor: Sanjeev Kumar
- Actress: Salma Hayek
- Food: Samosa
- Tabu shares a very special bond with Ajay Devgn. The Two grew up together in the same neighbourhood. She also blames him for her singlehood as he would bully any guy, who tried to talk to her. In a 2017 interview, she said,
Yes, Ajay and I have known each other for 25 years. He was my cousin Sameer Arya’s neighbour and close buddy, a part of my growing up years and that has laid the foundation of our relationship. When I was young, Sameer and Ajay would spy on me, follow me around and threaten to beat up any boys who are caught talking to me. They were the big bullies and if I am single today, it is because of Ajay. I hope he repents and regrets what he did.”
- Her extraordinary performance in Haider (2014) earned her widespread critical acclaim to such an extent that The New York Times said that the film should have been titled Ghazala (after Tabu’s character in the film), rather than Haider. The New York Times
- Her hobbies include collecting perfumes, writing poems, and reading books.
- Tabu is very particular about her fitness. She goes to the gym and practices Yoga regularly.
- She is well-versed in Telugu, Urdu, Hindi, and English.
- In an interview, Tabu, while expressing her hatred for her father, said that she did not like meeting her father or using his surname. She said,
I never really used it, I never thought it was important for me to use my father’s surname, it was always Tabassum Fatima, which was my middle name. In school, Fatima was my surname. I have no memories of him. My sister has met him on occasion, but I have never really felt like meeting him. I am not curious about him, I am happy the way I am, the way I have grown up. I am very settled in my own life.”