A Love Letter To Tabu: The Enduring Magic She Brings To Her Characters

Actor Tabu turns 51 today and here’s to her brave choice of characters in every era.

Namrata Ganguly
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As filmmakers have often said, Tabu is never selected for a role, most often the characters are written for her. That is the charm of Tabu. As she turns 51, here is our love letter to Tabu appreciating the roles she has portrayed over the years to bring magic to the screen.

Recently, in an interview, filmmaker Vishal Bharadwaj said that he changed the gender of the protagonist to rope in Tabu for the role. Regarding her role in the upcoming Netflix film Khufiya, Bharadwaj said, “The film is based on Amar Bhushan espionage novel 'Escape to Nowhere'. The character was male but it was not that exciting for me. When I thought of Tabu, the excitement was more and I changed the gender of the character. I found a reason to work with Tabu and I got that.”tabu netflix

Ever since her debut, at the age of 11, with the 1982 Sagar Sarhadi film Bazaar in an uncredited role, and later in Dev Anand’s 1985 Hum Naujawan, she has only shown excellence on screen. With every performance of the actor, critics and audiences have been pre-prepared to praise her performance.

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Be it her role in Astitva, Cheeni Kum, The Namesake, or in Haider, Maqbool, A Suitable Boy, and Andhadhun, Tabu has always shattered stereotypes with every character in every era of her career. In a career spanning over nearly four decades, Tabu has rarely portrayed a conventional character in either Kollywood or Bollywood.

In Astitva (2000), Tabu plays a housewife Aditi, whose life falls apart as her former lover leaves all his property to her. Following this Aditi’s husband and son begin questioning her past and criticise her morals. As a result we see Tabu’s character pulling up a mirror to society’s hypocrisy but also makes a case for female sexuality.

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Tabu won a National award for her role in Madhur Bhandarkar’s Chandni Bar (2001) where she goes from being a naive young girl to becoming a bar dancer in Mumbai and making the city her home.

Watching Tabu in Bharadwaj’s films like Maqbool and Haider is a real treat. With these two Shakespear adaptations of Macbeth and Hamlet Tabu brings magic to the screen.

Not shying away from any genres, Tabu has also excelled in playing fun characters like the 34-year-old woman who falls in love with a 64-year-old man (played by Amitabh Bachchan) in the fun romcom Cheeni Kum. She also leaves a lasting impact with her role in the Netflix series A Suitable Boy where she romances a boy half her age, newcomer Ishaan Khatter.taby suitable boy

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So, here’s to Tabu, wishing her a very happy birthday! May she continue to bring magic to the screen for many more years to come.

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