A baby at 67!
Baby Tabassum on everything from Phool Khile… to Ladies Special
Tabassum can rightly be called the First Lady of entertainment. She started her career as a child artist at the age of 5. After establishing herself as a film artist Tabassum moved to the small screen. The extremely popular TV show Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan which ran for a record 21 years was hosted by her. Her career has spanned 62 long years and Tabassum claims that she owes her success to her temperament which is still child-like. In fact she is still often called Baby Tabassum!
From the legendary Prithviraj Kapoor, Raj Kapoor, his sons and now to Kareena and Karisma, Tabassum has known all of them. Laughingly, the actress says that her range spans from K.L. Saigal to Baba Sehgal and from Devika Rani to Rani Mukherjee.
Tabassum will now be seen as a judge on Zee TV’s Ladies Special – Hasne Hasaane Ka Tonic. She reveals that initially she refused the offer but the channel convinced her saying that she is popular amongst the older generation and now they want to introduce her to the youth of today.
In a free-wheeling chat with TellyChakkar, Tabassum spoke at length about her career, her desires, an unfulfilled wish and the show.
Many stars quit television when they get Bollywood offers, but you are one of those who quit Bollywood for television. What do you have to say about this?
Believe me people used to laugh at me at that time. They used to taunt me saying that since I couldn’t do well on the silver screen I am now trying my luck on the small screen. But now if you see, all the major Bollywood celebrities are appearing on television. Taking that into consideration I am the pioneer of the small screen, in fact ‘Mother of Television’.
How does it feel to make a comeback on the small screen with this show?
I started with Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan which aired for 21 years from 1972-1993. Then I did a kids show which was called Story Time and then came Phir Wahi Tabassum where I did star interviews. For the last 11 years, Boogie Woogie has been introducing me to the younger generation. So basically I’ve never been out of sight but yes, you can definitely refer to this as my comeback.
Why did you choose this show as your comeback vehicle?
I’ve always been associated with comedy for years. Infact of the nine rasas, hasya ras has been my most favourite. Most of the comedy shows in current times are vulgar. Because this was Ladies Special, such vulgarity will definitely not be seen and in fact that will not be entertained in this show. I want people to change their opinion about women as they are being typecast by a handful of people. Through this show, I want to make them understand that if they think that women can only torture, we are out here to prove that they can also make people laugh.
What will be your criteria for judging?
I will give the first preference to content because for me that’s the most important thing. Content should be new and even if it’s old, it should be presented in a fresh way. Secondly, presentation should be very good and should be done with confidence. And last but not the least, they should possess good presence of mind.
Personally, have you given any tips to the contestants?
No, actually we have not been able to even meet them properly. We’ve just seen their performances as we’ve already shot for four episodes.
Co-judge Baba Sehgal doesn’t fit the bill as this is a ladies show. How do you justify his presence?
Baba is the punching bag in the show. He’s associated with music which is very essential for any comedy act. In fact all his songs are associated with comedy. Even the participants are using songs to pep up their comedy acts.
Many people think that women lack humour when compared to men. What is your take on this?
No, you will get to see this in this show how ladies will make everyone laugh and that too with dignity.
Are you following any of the shows on television now?
To be very frank, I love watching Discovery and National Geographic which are interesting and knowledgeable. I still feel one keeps learning throughout life.
How has television evolved in all these years?
I definitely feel that television has improved to quite an extent when it comes to technology, but I still maintain that we had some beautiful concepts and gripping stories before. Infact, today TV is more repetitive. Earlier during Satyug there was only one Manthara but nowadays you’ll find one Manthara in every house.
In your long journey is there anything that you regret not having accomplished?
Since the day I started living, I’ve never desired or wished to do anything. Whatever God offered me I accepted. I learned Bharatnatyam and Kathak at a very young age. I am a writer, a poet and have been the editor of the popular magazine Grihalakshmi for 15 years now. I have done everything but my only regret remains to be my inability to scale heights as an actress on the silver screen. But yes, there is an interesting thing which I am doing now and that is swimming.
Any childhood memory which you would like to share with us?
It was when I started with my acting career as a child and came in the movies. That was the time when my name was always mentioned in the end as ‘And Baby Tabassum’. I used to always think that ‘and’ was a part of my name and whenever people used to ask me my name, I used to always say ‘My name is ‘… and Baby Tabassum’ and people just couldn’t stop laughing.
Would you choose to do any daily soap?
Not really because now I want to do things which I haven’t done till now. I see many ladies of my age crying, laughing, bitching about each other on television but all this doesn’t interest me. I am very sure that I will not do any daily unless I get a challenging role like that of Baa in Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.
What do you do in your free time?
Apart from spending quality time with my family, now I am doing something which I couldn’t do till now. I am learning to swim. I also love to cook and enjoy eating as well.
What are your favourite dishes?
I love kheer puri, biryani, kabab and fish.
Who has been your inspiration?
My mother has been my inspiration. She was a journalist who was a scholar in Persian and Urdu. Born as a Muslim Pathan, she nursed a desire to learn Hindu religion at the age of 17. She was so liberated in her thoughts. She married a Hindu during those times. She was a rebel in the true sense and I truly respect her for the same.
One advice which you would like to give to the youth of today?
My only advice to the younger generation is that regardless of how successful are you must always think that nobody is smaller than you. The day you realise that you have attained perfection you will stop growing.