Have we given enough credit to Tabu’s style sense?
In 2.5 + decades of being relevant in film industries in India and overseas, the one thing that’s stayed constant is how simple Tabu’s style is. Tabu has never been the conventional Bollywood heroine — too tall, pretty but hardly a stunner. Yet, few actors have had a grip on the collective consciousness of the nation as she has had. Simple through nuanced, powerful performances that take her viewers into the moment that she’s living with her character. Leonardo Da Vinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” and Tabu is an example of embodying this in her real and reel life.
In the last few years, she’s proven that in the highly glamorous world of films, it’s necessary to be yourself. It’s true when they say that your twenties and thirties are a reflection of how your forties and beyond will shape up. With great skin, a healthy body and beautiful hair, that she’s maintained throughout, we know we’re in for more stylish surprises from this versatile actor. It’s not as though there aren’t other names one thinks of when they think glitz and glamour. All of Tabu’s contemporaries in the ‘90s namely Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Sridevi, Urmila Matondkar, Karishma Kapoor, Raveena Tandon to name a few, experimented with fashion, hairstyles, make-up and more, but with Tabu it was always a different story. Maybe it was the roles she played or the characters she imbibed, her persona has stayed the same, we know of her today the same way we saw her a few years ago. The only reinvention - her roles - they’ve only gone from a thin layer to a multi-layer.
She is known to be a fitness aficionado and religiously practices yoga, setting an example for several young women who’ve probably grown up watching her work in the last two decades and more.
Designer Nikhil Thampi says, “Tabu is a beautiful woman who epitomises Indian beauty and grace and thus she makes a beautiful canvas, memorable on reel and effortless in real.”
He adds, “Tabu and her style is minimalist, chic, effortless and very approachable. Her approach to fashion has made it her signature looks. From beautiful Indian couture to a fun street style, she put her unique touch in everything she wears.”
One part of her signature style is the long, black hair that has always found character on Tabu’s style. They’re so key to her appearance that she’s never worn it another way, except for a pixie cut in the first half of 1999’s Hu Tu Tu and a wavy look in her more recent work, including Jawaani Jaaneman, where she plays a phone call hating ‘hippie’ on screen. This is also the first time that Tabu has been styled by Sanam Ratansi who has also styled Alaya F for the film and the subsequent promotions. Sanam says, “Tabu plays a free-spirited person and a hippie at heart with all her quirks in place. I put together a mood board and pitched to her (Tabu) what I had in mind for her look and she was on board!”
Explaining the inspiration behind the look, Sanam adds, “I love the whole boho hippie space. Once we were all on board with the vibe of the character, the execution didn’t take very long. We did about two look tests and locked down all her looks for the film. Tabu hasn’t played anything like this before and she can pull off pretty much anything.”
Whether it’s the chikankari the actor wears during crucial scenes of 2004’s Maqbool or the Kashmiri patterns and silhouettes in both 2014’s Haider and 2016’s Fitoor or channelises the boho-chic avatar we didn’t know of before, Tabu’s done it all through sophistication and grace. Think a grayscale image of the actor’s profile with just a sparkle of the statement nose pin and you too will find beauty in a moment the way Maqbool views his Nimmi or Haider views his Ghazala or how Begum Hazrat Jaan Mahal wanted to be seen, loved and appreciated. Here’s to more graceful style from this trendsetter!