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  Where does Tabu go from here

Where does Tabu go from here

Published : Nov 3, 2016, 10:42 pm IST
Updated : Nov 3, 2016, 10:42 pm IST

Tabu, who turns 45 today, finds herself at a crossroads in Bollywood. The past few years has seen a gradual shift in her positioning from leading lady to character actress.

Tabu
 Tabu

Tabu, who turns 45 today, finds herself at a crossroads in Bollywood. The past few years has seen a gradual shift in her positioning from leading lady to character actress.

Like it or not, Bollywod has been a gender-biased film industry. While leading men continue to play lover boys for the longest time, a leading lady loses her sheen once she marries or hits 40 — which ever is first.

 

Back in 2014, Tabu played sister to Salman Khan in Jai Ho, a move that very few actresses have made. Her decision to play mother to Shahid Kapoor and Katrina Kaif in Haider and Fitoor respectively too came under the scanner. In Drishyam, one of her only major releases in the past few years saw her being cast opposite Rajat Kapoor and not Ajay Devgn.

A director who has worked with the actress and claims to care deeply for her career believes that Tabu dug the grave of her own career. “She has made brave choices as an actress. But these choices have one after another shut the door on her career as a leading lady. In Hindi cinema, you can’t play mother to the heroes and then expect them to play your romantic leads. And unless you play romantic leads you are not considered an A-lister in Bollywood,” he says.

 

Tabu’s colleague, Kajol, has done well to reverse this tragic fact. She’s adhered to leading lady roles in the few films that she’s taken up, even after crossing 40. Tabu, on the other hand, for all her talent, has no assignments in hand right now.

Her illustrious aunt, Shabana Azmi, thinks Tabu’s career is impervious to dips and curves. She says, “Hits and flops will make no difference to Tabu’s career. She is a class apart and will always be the first choice for strong roles of characters her age. She is beautiful in a unique way; doesn’t look like a manufactured product and she is a versatile actor. People think of her as a dramatic actor but she also has a keen comic timing and a terrific mimic like her mother. More power to her on her birthday.”

 

Writer-editor and director, Apurva Asrani, is dazzled by Tabu’s rare appearances on screen. “I was so relieved to see Tabu in Haider, he says. “She was given one opportunity after ages, and she simply stole the show. It’s rare to find writers/directors, who create strong female characters. Our industry is known for being sexist. Heroines’ careers used to end when they were 30, and men played heroes till 55 at least. Clearly this has been no country for women,” he sighs.

“But having said that, we’ve had Bimal Roy, who created really powerful female characters. We have Vishal Bhardwaj, who has given Tabu some of her meatiest roles. We have Shoojit Sarkar who gave Deepika Padukone Piku and Ram Madhvani, who gave Sonam Kapoor Neerja. I just had the good fortune of writing her an exciting character in Hansal Mehta’s Simran,” he continues.

 

“Today the scene is much better for actresses. Sridevi has made a solid comeback with English Vinglish and now readies up for Mom. I am hopeful that more writers and directors will write parts that do justice to a phenomenal talent like Tabu,” finishes an awe-struck Apurva.

Adds film critic Raja Sen, “That the magnificent Tabu finds such rare occasions to dazzle on screen is one of Hindi cinema’s most profound tragedies. Her legacy is assured. As the beholders, the loss is entirely ours.”