Recently seen in Golmaal Again, Tabu started off her career in the Hindi film industry with Pehla Pehla Pyar opposite Rishi Kapoor. But it was only after the 1994 film Vijaypath that the actor gained prominence in Bollywood. More than the movie, the song “Ruk Ruk Ruk Arre Baba Ruk” composed by Anu Malik became the talking point of the movie and Tabu caught the attention of filmmakers. But eventually the actor moved away from just being an eye candy in a movie and we got to see her playing some unconventional roles. Soon her excellence reached a point where the actor carved her own niche.
Much before the entire debate on women-centric movies came into the scene, Tabu did some offbeat roles in movies like Maachis (1996), Astitva (2000), Virasat (1997), Chandni Bar (2001), Cheeni Kum (2007) and Maqbool (2003). Soon, the actor proved that she doesn’t need her male counterpart to lift her character in a movie. She was able to carry a film on her shoulders. Some of the characters like that of a bar dancer, a woman who falls in love with a man of her father’s age or who does not mind talking about her love child made it difficult to ignore this Bollywood heroine who started off her career two decades ago and still is very much a part of the film industry.
Whether be it the character of Panna Bharve in 1999 film Hu Tu Tu by Gulzar where Tabu deals with the aspects of education, politics and misuse of power or her monologue as a housewife in the 2000 release Astitva where she makes it loud and clear that women too have desires and if men can be forgiven for infidelity so can women be. Also, in the movie, she decides to move out of the wedlock and make her identity apart from just being a wife and a mother. In times when both cinema and society were more inclined towards men, Tabu fought all the odds and proved that women too deserve to be treated equally and they too have the option of making choices in life.
The two-time National Award winner also knew how to portray the grey shades with impact on the silver screen. Chandni Bar, Madhur Bhandarkar’s gritty tale of a poor girl Mumtaz who gets raped by her uncle and then starts working in dance bar for a living, had Tabu in her element and even after years, the impact of her acting in the film is fresh in the mind of fans. Something similar happened when Vishal Bhardwaj’s Haider came out in 2014. In the movie, Tabu’s character Ghazala played her cards in her own way without worrying about what is wrong or right. She made her own mistakes and earned her own trophies. Thus, even her grey character left an impact and people loved Tabu more than Shahid Kapoor in the movie.
It is not that what she portrayed on-screen was left confined to the 70 mm screen. In person too Tabu is as headstrong as she is in her movies. She was once said in an interview, “I don’t mind people calling me by any tag or slot as long as I am happy doing what I am doing.” Her other statements read, “If I like something, I will do it otherwise I won’t do it. I never felt the need to be in the rat race.” And another interview had her saying, “Just because the format of the media is changing, it does not mean that I will change myself.”
As the actor turns 45 today, we wish we get to see more of her on the silver screen.