A thinking man’s actress, Tabu has always been a critics’ favourite. Though she has seen a fair share of box office success, not a single film of hers has failed to get rave reviews from all quarters. While she is a proud recipient of two National Awards, a lesser known achievement that she boasts of is that she has won the highest number of Filmfare Critics’ Choice Awards, just one award ahead of her Cheeni Kum co-star Amitabh Bachchan.
As Tabu turned 45 on 4 November, we celebrate the occasion by looking back at the four nuanced portrayals that fetched her the four Filmfare Awards:
- Gehna in Virasat
A small yet significant role, Tabu played a village woman who marries the highly educated Anil Kapoor’s character Shakti in this 1997 drama by Priyadarshan. In what was entirely an Anil Kapoor film, Tabu managed to hold her own. Treading on the fine line between vulnerability and self-respect, she played an uneducated woman who felt inferior to her husband. To dominate the screen space despite essaying a submissive role was the challenge that she took head on and consequently earned her first Filmfare Critics’ Choice Award.
2. Hu Tu Tu
It would be safe to declare Tabu as the “queen of conflicted characters”. In this 1999 film directed by Gulzar, her character gets abducted by her ex flame Aditya, played by Sunil Shetty. Tabu showed her fans what a reverse Stockholm syndrome would look like. Her enraged face, peppered with traces of rekindled love, served as a prelude to her eventual reunion with Aditya. To see her oscillate from remorse to vengeance was an absolute delight.
The toughest challenge of a good actor is to surpass her past role. After essaying a number of strong female characters, Tabu upped the ante in her portrayal of Aditi in this 2000 film directed by Mahesh Manjarekar. She displayed a myriad range of emotions in her journey from a victim of spousal abuse to a woman who refuses to let her matrimony justify her existence. From keeping mum to her husband’s abuses to delivering the power packed monologue in the climax, she is one actress who needs no background music.
- Cheeni Kum
Unlike any of her past characters, Tabu sparkled as Neena in this lighthearted rom-com from 2007, directed by Balki. She was at her subtle best as she shared the screen space with Amitabh Bachchan. Rolling her lips instead of laughing out loud and sobbing instead of bawling are just some of the subtleties she got right. With just the right mix of sugar and spice, she mastered yet again the unique ability she is known for – to take the turmoil within and turn it into a breeze.
Clearly, we know why she has been every film critic’s favourite muse. She admits that she attempts every role without the baggage of any method acting or tricks of the acting school. That is why, every role she does, is completely her own.
Don’t you think it’s time she wins a Filmfare Award in the popular category as well?