Actress Tabu—who debuted with the 1991-Telugu film Coolie No. 1, in which she was paired opposite actor Venkatesh—will be starring in a Telugu film after more than a decade. But for someone who was born and raised in Hyderabad and then went on to grow to great heights in the Indian film industry—having acted in Tamil, Malayalam, English, Bengali and Marathi films—Tabu considers doing a Telugu film something akin to homecoming. “It’s always great to return to Telugu cinema. This is the place I started my career. I have been busy with Hindi films, but I’ve always wanted to do a Telugu film. I have a deep-rooted association with Telugu films, going back to my childhood,” says Tabu.
On clocking three decades
Across the different film industries the two-time National Award winning actress has played varied roles. But she is taken aback, when we remind her that her journey began close to three decades ago. “Oh is it? I can’t believe,” she says expressing her disbelief at how fast time past.
Then sitting back in contemplation, the Padma-Shri recipient adds, “It’s been a fantastic journey. I never thought that I will have this longevity and success in films. I’d ascribe them to a mix of hard work, perseverance and undying passion for cinema.”
Tabu came into the industry as a teenager, but the ride, she says, has been a great experience. “I’ve seen ups and downs as well as success and failures; in fact, cinema has completely altered my views on several things in life. Then with age and experience, my ambitions evolved. I became better at handling situations and looking at them with some more objectivity. But I thank my upbringing for it too because I grew up around people who are very positive in life; so I always believe that I can dig deep,” she shares.
Seeking creative gratification
Tabu is one of those few modern-day actors who had the opportunity to work with a wide range of filmmakers. Tagged as ‘a director’s actor’, she has even experimented with different genres.
“I guess exploring different genres pushed my limit as an actor; that gave me a lot of creative satisfaction, and I credit filmmakers for casting me in beautiful roles. But I also want to thank the audience for constantly appreciating my endeavours,” she reveals.
All for love
As our interview draws to a close, we ask for her take on relationships. Did she ever feel like she was missing out on love? After pausing for a moment, and looking thoughtful, she replies, “I don’t know if I have I missed out on love, but it is certainly a beautiful thing in life.”
And as we wrap up the conversation, we’re eager to shoot out the one question we’ve long wanted to ask. But being the perceptive person she is, Tabu catches us off guard when she turns around and asks, “Is it about my marriage?” The guilt is writ all over our faces as we smile back at her in agreement, and she throws her head back, laughing.
“I’m surprised people still ask about my marriage. But with so much love pouring in, I am sure whatever happens will be for the good,” she says in conclusion.
With all her relatives still staying in Hyderabad, Tabu reveals that she frequently visits the city to catch up with them. “I also catch up with my childhood and college friends. I am constantly in touch with all my filmy friends too. In fact, I have more friends in Hyderabad than in Mumbai,” she adds laughing.