SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY
Yesteryear actress Tabassum returns to the small screen with the Star Plus daily, "Pyar Ke Do Naam... Ek Raadha, Ek Shyaam"
With Tabassum, you can't help being nostalgic. Be it reeling back to the "Deedar" days for the song that she lipped as a child artiste, "Bachpan Ke Din Bhula Na Dena... ", or the first talk show on the onset of television in India, "Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan" that she hosted so superbly on Doordarshan, Tabassum has not just touched many milestones in her long span in the entertainment industry but has also touched many hearts on her way. With her thin, childlike voice, with her no-holds-barred laugh, with her round, sparkling eyes, with her matchless wit and humour.Tell her that and the lady, now in the autumn of her life, giggles as in the old days, "I have always got a lot of love from people. Khuda ne mujhe mukhtalif banaya (I think I am the chosen one)."
Now that she has chosen to be back on the box in this cable era, Tabassum, her trademark humour intact, introduces her character in the Star Plus serial, "Pyar Ke Do Naam... Ek Raadha, Ek Shyaam" : "I am anyway old and look at me, I am playing a role which is even older to me." Making its foray into Star Plus with this serial, the well-known production house, Rajshri Productions has wheeled out since early April a yarn of reincarnation that spans two centuries, two heroes, two heroines and their never-ending love. Tabassum fits into the mosaic as the grandmother of the hero in his past life. "I play Kisna's dadi in the serial. I am a lovable woman in my 70s, very attached to my village. I mortgage my house and land, etc to finance Kisna's education in the city in the hope that he will work for the betterment of the village," explains the actress. "Except for the age, (Tabassum is in her 60s, she says) I am playing myself in the serial. I also have two granddaughters and I am attached to them as dadi is to Kisna," adds the bubbly.Looking back at her life as the conversation progresses, Tabassum, primarily a character artiste in Bollywood, something that is fast fading now, recalls those days: "I have worked with great people and I have preserved those moments. Be it Nargis, Dilip Kumar and Ashok Kumar in "Deedar" or Meena Kumari and Bharat Bhushan in "Baiju Bawra", or even Suraiya, they all pampered me and I am grateful to them. Those days are gone but we have to learn to move with times." Even in the television arena, she feels, "In today's age no doubt, TV is technologically superior but during the olden times, TV was script wise superior." Among new actors, Rani Mukerji, she underlines, is her favourite. "Woh hamare goad mein pali bari.( I saw her growing up)," she adds.
Books on jokes
If not acting, Tabassum has always kept humour in circulation. "I have written 10 joke books in Urdu. The books have been very well-received. Some organisations have given me the title of India's jokes queen. In the Doordarshan days, then Information and Broadcasting Minister Vasant Sathe crowned me the TV queen for "Phool Khile... ". The women's magazine, Grihalaxmi called me `The Stage Queen' 15 years ago. All these makes life worth it," she feels.Though her son, Hoshang, tried to follow his mother's footstep to Bollywood by making his debut as a hero in the film, "Tum Par Hum Qurban", he quite couldn't make it. But Tabassum has no regrets. "Everybody tries to make it in Bollywood, some get a lot of recognition and some get little. But that doesn't take away one's talent. My son is still an actor. He is doing some films." Well, do you think, it is just motherspeak?