Tabu turns 50: From Gazala in 'Haider' to Saeeda Bai in 'A Suitable Boy', iconic roles of the versatile actress

08:10 AM Nov 04, 2020 | FPJ Web Desk

Actress Tabu, who's given several super hit movies in languages like Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Malyalam and Marathi, is celebrating her 50th birthday on Wednesday, November 4. Born as Tabassum Fatima Hashmi in a Muslim Family, the 'Maqbool' actress made her debut with an uncredited appearance in 1982 film 'Bazaar'.

Today, Tabu is one of the most celebrated actors from the film fraternity and has played some iconic roles in her three-decade-long career.


From Shahid Kapoor's mother Gazala in 'Haider' to a courtesan named Saeeda Bai in 'A Suitable Boy', here are some of the most memorable roles of the versatile actress:



Vishal Bharadwaj-directed 'Maqbool', inspired by the Shakespearean tragedy Macbeth, featured late actor Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Pankaj Kapur and and Masumeh Makhija in lead reads.

While Irrfan and Tabu's on-screen chemistry in the 2004 crime tragedy film left audiences swooning, her character as a mistress named Nimmi also won her international acclaim.

Chandni Bar

In Madhur Bhandarkar's 2001 crime film 'Chandni bar', Tabu was seen in a completely different role. She played the role of a bar dancer, who's family has been killed in communal riots.

Her character as Mumtaz won her a National Award in 2002 in the Best Actress category. She also bagged an IIFA award, a Star Screen award and a few others in the same year for the critically acclaimed film.


Shahid Kapoor-starrer 'Haider', a Kashmir-set modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, won five hounours at the 62nd National Film Awards. Also starring Irrfan Khan, Shraddha Kapoor and Kay Kay Menon, it was set amidst the insurgency-hit Kashmir conflicts of 1995 and civilian disappearances.

In the 2014 psychological thriller, Tabu played the role of Shahid Kapoor's mother Gazala and bagged several awards for her role. In fact, filmmaker Vishal Bhardawaj had even gone on record to say that if Tabu hadn’t agreed to act in 'Haider', he wouldn’t have made the film.


The Ajay Devgn starrer revolved around cable TV operator Vijay Salgaonkar, whose life revolves around cinema and his family; wife Nandini (Shriya Saran) and daughters Anju and Anu.

Directed by late filmmaker Nishikant Kamat, the film showed Tabu in the role of police IG named Meera Deshmukh, who is dealing with the sudden disappearance of her son.

The nail-biting suspense thriller did exceptionally well at the box-office and also garnered praises for the performances.

The Namesake

Based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s book, this Mira Nair-directed movie is a coming of age story where Irrfan Khan and Tabu (again) play a middle-aged couple from West Bengal who have immigrated to the United States.

The story of how they come to terms with the lives of their American born children is remembered for Irrfan and Tabu’s performances.

Chachi 420

Kamal Hassan‘s Chachi 420 was the desi rip off Robbie William‘s Mrs. Doubtfire. The 1997 comedy flick showed the extent a father can go to for his daughter. In the film, doting father Kamal Hassan disguises himself as an old lady and become his own daughter's caretaker, just to be around her.

Tabu played the role of Hassan's ex-wife, Janki Paswan.

Life of Pie

Ang Lee’s directorial was a cinematic adaptation of Yann Martel's Man Booker Prize-winning novel of the same name and had late actor Irrfan Khan in the lead role.

Tabu plays the role of Pi's mother Gita Patel in the 3D adventure film, which also featured Adil Husain. Delhi-based Indian boy Suraj Sharma plays young Pi in it.


The film, featuring Ayushmann Khurrana, Tabu and Radhika Apte, was released on October 5, 2018 and did stellar business in India.

Sriram Raghavan directorial, featured Ayushmann as a blind man. The edge-of-the-seat thriller about a blind pianist, which was dubbed as 2018’s best Hindi film by critics, was widely appreciated.

A Suitable Boy

Based on the critically acclaimed novel by Vikram Set, it starred Ishaan Khatter, Tabu, Tanya Maniktala, Rasika Dugal, Shahana Goswami and Ram Kapoor.

Actor Ishaan Khatter plays the role of Maan Kapoor in Mira Nair's adaptation, while Tabu essays the role of Saeeda Bai, a Muslim courtesan. Maan is the son of a minister from a Hindu family and almost half her age. Their 'forbidden romance' is shown in a beautiful and layered manner.

Also Read: A Suitable Boy review: Tabu, Tanya, Ishaan with charming performances steal the show

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