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Time to exhale!

Tabu is looking at life beyond cinema.



Tabu... The best is yet to ome. Photo: Sandeep Saxena.

THE MAN has always courted controversy. This time, though, he seems to have surrendered to those opposed to his work. Yes, M. F. Husain has withdrawn `Meenaxi - Tale of Three Cities' from theatres across the country after some people protested that Quranic verses had been misused in the film. The film may not be seen in cinema halls till the time Husain changes his mind or corrects the errors, but in the two-week run `Meenaxi' has had, talented Tabu has left people spellbound with her portrayal of three girls - from Hyderabad, Jaisalmer and Prague.

Tabu's oeuvre spans all kinds of cinema - mainstream and parallel/art, and her performances have fetched her many accolades. As an artiste, she is able to portray a kaleidoscope of emotions and impart a sense of realism to her roles. Be it Mumtaz, the bar girl of `Chandni Bar', Nimmi, the mistress of Abbaji, the don in `Maqbool', or the wife in `Astitva', she gets into the skin of the character and delivers a natural and flawless performance. Her other films are `Maachis', `Kala Pani', `Virasat', `Filhaal', `Kandukondein Kandukondein' and `Abar Aranye'. She has worked with the likes of Gulzar, Gautam Ghosh, Rajiv Menon, Priyadarsan, Madhur Bhandarkar, Mahesh Manjrekar, M. F. Husain, and others.

Tabu glides through `Meenaxi... Tale of 3 Cities'. As Meenaxi and Maria, she is able to bring out the nuances (particularly the language) and subtleties perfectly. About her experience, she says, "It was great and certainly different. It was not the regular form of storytelling. I got to learn a lot from Husain Saab - at this age, he has explored a different realm and carried his experience forward. For me, it was very enriching."

"I didn't look at it as a challenge, I just went with the flow. Husain Saab's passion rubs on to the others. I never felt I was acting. I had a lot of freedom; there was no pressure, no deadline." The Hyderabadi dialect comes naturally to her and her slow rendition as Maria is impressive too. "I never worked on the dialogues. Maria's way of rendition was a product of my own imagination. I guess there was some magic."

Tabu had a blast doing this film. "It was one of the best experiences of my career. In Prague, we used to wait for pack-up time, as Husain Saab would take us to a restaurant every evening. I remember this more than the shooting." Would she like to work with Husain Saab again? "Of course, if he wants to."

For the time being, she is taking a break. "I am going slow." And she is happy doing what she likes - travelling (to Hyderabad and the U.S. to visit her family) and playing with her new friends - the young boys and girls (11-year-olds) in the building. "I play with them, they read to me and I get to know a lot from them. They can relate to me. They even bully me. It's nice to be bullied and they want to know everything about my programme. I really enjoy being in their midst." Now and then she reads whatever she can lay her hands on. `If I feel I can't proceed beyond 30 pages, I stop reading that book."

`Sarhad Paar' is among a handful of films she is working on. "It's a mainstream film where I am paired opposite Sanjay Dutt." She has a couple of films with old favourite Sunny Deol too.

Asked to identify her favourite films, she names `Kala Pani', `Maachis', `Astitva', `Ninne Pelladutha' and `Kandukondein Kandukondein'.

She has spent quite a few years in the industry now.

Has she reached the saturation point?

"Maybe if I had done the same thing again and again, I would have felt saturated. My best is yet to come. I want to go easy now."

About her journey in showbiz, she says: "I have enjoyed every single moment of it. My identity is because of my work. There have been upsetting moments, sad moments. But there is good and bad in everyone's life too. In my life, the good times have outnumbered and outweighed the bad." How does she motivate herself when she is down and out? "I motivate myself. Faith in God and myself has kept me going."

RADHIKA RAJAMANI

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