Tabu @ 50: One starlet & ten heroes

Yasmin Shabir

Features Writer


An actress that started out as a child artist grows to become one of Indian cinemas greatest talents. She has not only worked in Hindi language films but also in Tamil, Telugu, Bengali and many more. Even her work has extended to international projects reaching all parts of the world. This actress is none other than the powerhouse talent Tabu who this year will be celebrating her 50th birthday. will look at ten actors that the actress has worked with over the years.

Anil Kapoor
Tabu and Anil Kapoor are a pairing that work very well together. They were first seen together in the 1997 film ‘Virasat’ that had Kapoor’s character Shakti return to his village to find that things are not the way he remembered. Tabu’s character Gehna was an innocent village girl who admired Shakti a lot. Later on in the film a situation arises which forces Shakti to marry Gehna. A relationship that starts out of compulsion blossoms into a caring and loving one.

Another film they worked in was ‘Biwi No.1’ (1999) with their characters Lovely (Tabu) and Lakhan (Kapoor) giving the audience many laughs.

Sunny Deol
Tabu and Sunny Deol have worked in around six to seven films together. One of the most memorable ones being ‘Jeet’ (1996) in which Tabu plays the role of Tulsibai a courtesan who is head over heels in love with a criminal named Karan (Deol). While her role wasn’t too big her character is remembered as the kind hearted lover whose love remains unrequited. Her performance on the song Dil ka kya kare sahib till date is regarded as one of her best performances. For the 42nd FilmFare Awards Tabu was nominated for the best supporting actress award.

Mohnish Bahl
It wasn’t the first time that both Tabu and Bahl had worked together but in this film their pairing was one people wanted to see again and again. In ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’ (1999) Bahl starred as Vivek the older brother to three siblings who is quiet by nature and very kind-hearted. Sadhna (Tabu) sees his caring side at a family event in which she and her father are invited after that she can’t help but fall for him.

Gurdas Maan
Legendary singer and actor Gurdas Maan has worked in a number of films before but it was the first time he worked with Tabu in the Hindi film ‘Zindagi Khoobsurat Hai’ (2002). Maan played the role of a singer named Amar who is asked to use his talent to help a little girl who has learning difficulties. Tabu played the role of Shalu an alcoholic who lives a life which she would much rather escape from. When Amar enters her life her miserable life starts to become beautiful. The film received mixed reviews but the music became ever so popular.

Amitabh Bachchan
When this pairing was announced many were in shock at the time to hear Tabu playing the love interest to the much older Amitabh Bachchan in the romantic comedy ‘Cheeni Kum’ (2007). Though it sounded strange this unique pairing actually worked. The love story of a woman in her thirties who falls for a man in his sixties was a good watch as it made people think and actually talk about this topic. Bachchan’s character Buddhadev Gupta was grumpy and very arrogant because of his talents in the kitchen and the fact that he owned one of the best Indian restaurants around. When Nina (Tabu) enters his restaurant for the first time he doesn’t realise that his life will change forever.

Salman Khan
Tabu has actually worked with Salman Khan in many films but not once have they been paired opposite one another. In the 1999 film ‘Hum Saath Saath Hain’, Tabu was seen playing Khan’s sister-in-law and then many years later they were actually cast as siblings in ‘Jai Ho’ (2014). Keeping up with this tradition in 2019 they were seen in the much talked about film ‘Bharat’ in which they played the part of siblings who get separated. It seems as though this is a pairing we may never get to see as they seem comfortable playing sibling roles but who knows only time will tell.

Saif Ali Khan
When the trailer for the film ‘Jawaani Jaaneman’ (2020) released it was Tabu that got a lot of appreciation even though her role was quite small compared to other actors in the film. Every time she appeared she would have something funny or sarcastic to say which made the audience love her. Her scenes with Saif Ali Khan were full on hilarious as they were constantly bickering at one another like teenagers. Again they are two actors that have worked in quite a few films together but they had never been cast opposite one another till this year. The audience was very happy to see the two finally work together hopefully it won’t be too long till we see them in another film together.

Ajay Devgn
Ajay Devgn and Tabu first worked together in 1994, in the romantic drama ‘Vijaypath’. The film is still remembered today for its melodious music and of course this talented pairing who were very young at the time. The song Raah mein unse mulaqat ho gayi is a beautiful reminder of some of the work the two had been a part of. With their pairing being so successful they went onto work in many more films during the 90’s such as ‘Haqeeqat’ (1995) and ‘Thakshak’ in 1999. Their most recent work together was in the 2019 romantic comedy ‘De De Pyaar De’ which received mixed reviews but their work was appreciated.

Irrfan Khan
The late Irrfan Khan and Tabu are a combination that the audience is so thankful to have witnessed. Classed as two great talents of Indian cinema they both managed to impress people far and wide with their work. ‘The Namesake’ (2006) gained a lot of attention as it was directed by Mira Nair and it was based on a novel of the same name written by Jhumpa Lahiri. To work in a film directed by Nair was no joke as only the best worked with this director. Another international project they got to work on was the 2012 film ‘Life Of Pi’ which didn’t see them actually opposite one another but still the film did exceptionally well.

Ishaan Khatter
It hasn’t been very long since Ishaan Khatter made his mark in the film industry but what an entry. In such a short space of time he has garnered a lot of appreciation for his choice of roles. One such role that has had many people talking was the character of Maan Singh in the BBC drama ‘A Suitable Boy’ who finds himself mesmerised by the much older Saeeda Bai (Tabu). One would never have thought of casting both Tabu and Khatter together but because of the roles they played it worked. Tabu’s role of a mature woman who has an interest in poetry finds herself amused by a young man’s curiosity in her. It was definitely an interesting pairing one which we as the audience may never see again but will remain memorable.

The team at wishes Tabu a very happy 50th birthday!