5 Must-watch Tabu Films To Binge Before The Indian Superstar's 'Dune: Prophecy'

Published 05/14/2024, 5:34 AM EDT

When it comes to the world of cinema, an actress' shelf-life has nothing to do with how talented she is. In the Hindi film industry as well, among the many leading ladies of bygone eras, only a select few have managed to sustain their impact with back-to-back commanding performances. Tabassum Fatima Hashmi, or Tabu, as she is known, is one of them. Unfortunately, the actress never quite received the recognition she merited from the world and her brilliance remained known only to the intrepid explorers of cinematic artistry. Having appeared in international projects earlier, she is set to shine globally again in Dune: Prophecy.

Before the 52-year-old appears in the fan-beloved franchise, take a sneak peek into the layers of her acting prowess through these must-watch 5 films. 



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Every time Vishal Bharadwaj and Tabu team up, it is almost a guarantee that a masterpiece is about to be born from their creative genius. In their adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Haider, Tabu received multiple awards, including a Filmfare and an IIFA, for her supporting role as Ghazala. Apparently, she turned down the part twice, but Bharadwaj was not the one to give up and patiently waited for her to come on board. 

Perhaps the National Film Awards-winning director knew that no one but only Tabu could do justice to the complex character of Ghazala Meer, Haider’s (Hamlet) mother, who transformed into Queen Gertrude. Her depiction of the intricate bond she had with her on-screen son, portrayed by Shahid Kapoor, which might occasionally come off as a bit uncomfortable, earned her a shower of praises.

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This was, however, not the first time Tabu and Vishal Bharadwaj had put a Desi twist on a Shakespeare classic.


It has been twenty years since the legendary duo, the late actor Irrfan Khan, also known for his role in The Amazing Spider-Man, and Tabu was brought together by Vishal Bharadwaj. Together, they injected a new life into the classic Macbeth, with a backdrop of the Mumbai underworld.When I was reading the script, I wondered, does Vishal really see me this way?”, Tabu told Vogue in 2004. Her Nimmi, a version of Lady Macbeth, stole the show with the scheming character who unknowingly awaited her downfall. 

The actress not only added depth to Nimmi and Maqbool’s chemistry but also conveyed the emotions of ambition and betrayal with artistry in just two hours and eleven minutes. Tabu soon became a favorite of both critics and cinema literates. And then birthed another one of the collaborative gems of Tabu and Irrfan Khan, an English drama film. 

The Namesake

A movie where every single frame, every scene, brims with aesthetics- The Namesake. The Irrfan Khan and Tabu starrer is an adaptation of Indian-American author Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel of the same name. It traced the journey of first-generation immigrants from West Bengal to the United States and their American-born offspring. Some might say Tabu's understated and authentic portrayal of Ashima outshone every other performance in the film.

Prior to The Namesake's release in 2007, the Khufiya actress was mainly seen in dark and gritty films like Maqbool. But her portrayal of Ashima was a breath of fresh air for fans. As scholar Nasreen Munni Kabir puts it: "She gives off a feeling that life is lived internally”. This authenticity endeared her to audiences, despite her multiple lengthy hiatus from the industry. 

Cheeni Kum

A risque movie of its era, something Indian audiences were definitely not ready for, Cheeni Kum showcased the love story of two individuals belonging to starkly different demographics. Tabu was paired up with the legendary actor, Amitabh Bachchan. And though at first, everyone found the pairing odd, it all came together beautifully in the context of the R. Balki movie. 

In an interview with Times Entertainment, Bachchan shared about his co-star, “Nothing that comes out from her as a performance is without conviction”. In fact, much like fans, even the now 81-year-old actor found himself staring at the actress in admiration of her dramatic dynamics during the film's shoot.  



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Andhadhun was the movie that introduced Tabu’s potential to the new-age audiences. Simply because it was not only critically acclaimed but also became a commercial success in no time, unlike the previously mentioned movies. The actress played the antagonist in the Sriram Raghavan thriller that rode on a streak of rave reviews ever since its release. Throughout the movie’s running time, Tabu kept her audience on their toes with her character, Simi Sinha’s shrewd maneuvers to manipulate situations in her favor. 

Whether she was a seductress, an aspiring actor, a stepmother, or a cunning accomplice determined to cover her tracks, Tabu kept viewers engaged throughout the entire movie. In an industry that often typecasts female actors as on-screen mothers long before they get their first wrinkle, the actress has firmly held her ground. And now, with her upcoming project, Dune: Prophecy, following the success of Dune: Part Two, it is evident that the star is here to stay!


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What do you think about Tabu's casting in Dune: Prophecy? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!



Hriddhi Maitra

1142 articles

Hriddhi Maitra is a Hollywood News reporter at Netflix Junkie. An enthusiastic movie buff, Hriddhi found her true calling when she worked as a Cinema Content Writer at My Cinema Story while analyzing movies objectively, and offering constructive feedback. Coming from a background where she worked in different niches like finance, food, travel, medicines, automobile, and entertainment, we can safely say she is a jack of all trades.

Edited By: Itti Mahajan