When some aged movie-lover laments over the decadence of feminine grace among the tomboyish, over-vibrant and exposure-bent female actors of the present days, he must be delighted to discover the grace of Nutan, softness of Nargis and depth of Meena Kumari in Tabassum Hashmi, nicknamed as Tabu. Tabu saw the day-light on November 4, 1970 in Hyderabad ( Hyderabadi Pulao in "Chini Kam, by coincidence). Tabu hails from a cultured Muslim family, gifted with art, acting and poetry. By kinship, Tabu is niece of Shabana Azmi, daughter of Kaifi Azmi. Naturally, saps of performing art are coursing through Tabu's veins. Tabu's elder sister Farah had already made her appearence acknowledged on the silver screen in 80s. Farah despite her beauty can hardly be a good substitute for Tabu in terms of depth. But she is a 'Black-belt" in martial art and got brided in the house of Dara Singh, the emperor of typical Indian "martial art". Tabu's debut was in Dev Anand's movie "Hum Naujawan", but the role was too trivial to be reckoned with. Tabu made her appearence in the lead role in "Prem"released in 1995. It was Gulzar who unearthed the copious potentials in Tabu and "Machis"became a stamp of this. In "Machis" Tabu's performances were not only acclaimed but the cine-world realized that a star was born. She is so sensitive, so vulnerable, so catchy that the members of audience feel, Tabu is not acting, situations are making her do the things. A master gem-cutter like Gulzar must have the touch-stone to judge the quality and carat of a gem. When Tabu was lipping the song "Pani pani re", one grim-jawed, biased cine-lover of yester-years can not help convincing himself that the lady is "Nutan" in Bandini or "Meena Kumari" in Kajal. Tabu was soon earmarked by Govind Nihalni, whose name is pronounced next to Shyam Benegal, and Tabu was cast in "Takhsak' (mohe rang de). Then came "Chandni Bar" by Madhur Bhandarkar. Madhur came to eminence and applauses were showered upon Tabu. She bagged the National Award in this film. In "Astitwa"by Mahesh Manjrekar, Tabu is initially a docile house-wife who finally stands rebel and leaves her husband's dominance to create her own identity(astitwa). In this film too, Tabu is superb. Gautam Ghosh took Tabu in "Abar Aranye", a Bengali film. Tabu has left an abiding impression in this film too. Vishal Bhardwaj used Tabu in "Maqbool"and the role had some considerable shadow of Lady Macbeth, which Tabu accomplished impeccably. Meera Nayar provided an international platform for Tabu in "Namesake",in which she is a typical Bengali house-wife who goes through different thick and thin in life and returns home at old age after her prolong stay in the USA. In "Filhaal"by Meghna Gulzar, Tabu's performance, specially in the dilemma caused by motherhood sexually or asexually. In Gulzar's "Hu Tu Tu" Tabu is shown a victim of the system.
Other than these serious movies Tabu tried light roles. In "Vijaypath" she is a mod against Ajay Devgan ; in "Fanna" she is a top-ranking official in quest of a hard-core activist ; in "Chini Kum" Tabu is opposite Big B in a sweet romance in "Hera Pheri", "Amdani Athani...""Kohram" Tabu comes with light-hearted spirit induced with humour. Tabu has ever and ever come in the newspapers' scoops. She has all the qualities which are apt to generate many suitors. Right now in Bollywood, there are a good number of female actors as tall as Taboo (5 ft 9 inches). But the "Padukans and the Katrinas" are yet to get at the height where Tabu qualitatively abides in.