Tabassum Biography, Wiki, Age, Husband, Children, and Family: Tabassum is an experienced Indian actress, host of a TV show, and YouTuber. She was the host of the first Indian talk show on TV called “Phool Khaile Hain Gulshan Gulshan’ (1972-1993) that aired on Doordarshan.
Tabassum Govil was born on the 9th of July 1944 ( age 78 years in 2022) in Bombay, Bombay Presidency, British India (now Mumbai, Maharashtra). Her zodiac sign is Cancer.
She did her schooling up to class 10 from Anjuman-I-Islam, Girls, High School, Mumbai. She pursued a Bachelor of Arts from Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh.
Height (approx.): 5′ 2″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Brown
Parents & Siblings
Her father, Ayodhyanath Sachdev, was an Indian freedom fighter and journalist. He was one of the acquaintances of the legendary Indian freedom fighter Bhagat Singh. Her mother, Asghari Begum, was an Indian freedom fighter, journalist, and author. Earlier, Tabassum’s parents used to work as a journalist for the newspaper ‘Tej’ in Delhi, and later, they were transferred to Mumbai.
Tabassum’s mother then started a magazine ‘Tanveer Monthly’ along with Abdul Hamid Ansari, who was the father of Khalid Ansari (businessman and journalist). Asghari Begum used to teach Urdu to Govinda‘s father Arun Ahuja. She had two elder brothers and one elder sister. One of her brothers’ names is Jagit. Tabassum is the youngest among her siblings.
Husband & Children
Every year on 1 March, Tabassum celebrates her wedding anniversary with the Indian actor and director Vijay Govil. The couple has a son together named Hoshang Govil, who is an actor and film director.
The Indian actor Arun Govil who is famous for portraying the role of Lord Ram in the Hindi TV series ‘Mahabharat‘ (1988), is her younger brother-in-law.
In an Instagram post, Tabassum shared a picture of her with Arun Govil and captioned the image,
Duniya k lie ye Ram hai lekin mere lie mera Lakshman hai.”
Her son is married to the Indian podcaster Hemali Govil.
Tabassum has two granddaughters Khushi Govil and Krishna Govil. Krishna is an actor and content creator.
In an interview, while talking about her religion, she said,
I am neither Hindu nor Muslim. I am a human being. Whenever I am asked my religion on a form, I write humanity.”
At the age of 4, she started working as a host on the radio show ‘Phulwari’ in which she used to talk to children, sing songs, do poetries, and crack jokes. In January 1948 issue, her photo was featured on the cover of the All India Radio monthly magazine.
She gained immense popularity with her radio show. In 1970, she made a comeback on the radio with the former Indian radio announcer Ameen Sayani’s radio show ‘Saridon Ke Saathi.’ Tabassum then hosted a joke-based radio show ‘Maratha Darbar Ki Mehkti Batein.’
At the age of 3, Tabassum started her career as a child actor. In 1946, she signed the contract for her first film ‘Nargis’ for Rs 5000. The film was released in 1947, in which she played the role of young Nargis. After the release of the film, people started recognizing her Baby Nargis. In an interview, while talking about her debut film, she said,
Famous Pictures was making a film called Nargis, starring Nargis. The film’s music composer, Rajendra Krishen, and O P Dutta (filmmaker J P Dutta’s father) were my father’s friends. They told my father that I should get into acting as I was very smart and there was a role for a child artiste in Nargis. My parents first said no because, those days, it was considered bad to work in films. The World War II was on, paper had become very expensive and my mother’s magazine was about to shut because of shortage of paper. That’s when someone suggested I be allowed to take up the Nargis offer.”
In the same year, she acted in the Hindi film ‘Mera Suhaag.’ She was then offered a role in the Hindi film ‘Manjhdhar,’ but her mother rejected the offer. During an interview, while sharing the memories, Tabassum said,
In 1947, filmmaker Sohrab Modi came to our house. He was making a film called Majhdhaar with Surendra Nath and Khursheed. He wanted me in it as a child artiste. My mother said they didn’t want me to act in films any more. Rajendra Krishen and O P Dutta told my mother that it wasn’t good to say no to a film straightaway, as people may take that as an insult. You ask for more money and they themselves will go away. So my parents decided to ask for Rs 10,000. Modi said he would give Rs 12,000 and made a contract. I was four years old then. The film was a flop but I got great reviews. Some reviews mentioned that the older actors should learn Urdu diction from four-year-old Baby Tabassum. By the time I was 10 years old, I earned Rs 7 to 8 lakh per film. But the sad part is that most of the money never came in, and my balance is still outstanding.”
She then worked as a child actor in many popular Hindi films like ‘Bari Behen’ (1949), ‘Sangram’ (1950), ‘Afsana’ (1951), ‘Bahar’ (1951), and ‘Baiju Bawra’ (1952).
The Hindi song “Bachpan Ke Din Bhoolana Dena” from the Hindi film ‘Deedar’ was picturized on Tabassum and Parikshit Sahni. The song became very popular in that era.
Her last film as a child actor is ‘Baap Beti’ (1954).
In 1966, she made her debut as a lead actor in the Hindi film ‘Zimbo Ka Beta’ (Zimbo Finds A Son) as Leela.
In the 1970s, she acted in many Hindi films such as ‘Ganwaar’ (1970), ‘Heer Raanjha’ (1970), ‘Johny Mera Naam’ (1970), ‘Gambler’ (1971), ‘Shaadi Ke Baad’ (1972), and ‘Maa Bahen Aur Biwi’ (1974).
In 1971, she played the female lead in the Gujarati film ‘Upar Gagan Vishal.’
However, her films failed to do well at the box office. She then acted in a few Hindi films like ‘Sur Sangam’ (1985), ‘Naache Mayuri’ (1986), ‘Chameli Ki Shaadi’ (1986), ‘And Swarg’ (1990).
She worked in the 1995 Hindi film ‘Janana Mujhse Door,’ but the film got shelved. After this, she quit acting in Hindi films. In an interview, while talking about her flop films, she said,
My parents decided that I was not getting interesting roles. I was a very big child artiste but, as a grown-up, I could not achieve any success. So I was married off.”
In 1972, she made her TV debut as a host with the popular Hindi TV talk show ‘Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan.’ The show was aired on Doordarshan every Friday from 1972 to 1993.
In an interview, while talking about picking the name for the show, Tabassum said,
While DD wanted to name the show Guldasta, I didn’t find it appealing. I chose a couplet called Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan from Begum Akhtar’s ghazal instead and ended up sporting a flower in her hair on the show. It became her style statement. Doordarshan (DD) wanted a show that would have music and dance performances, and 10-minute interviews with celebrities. The show’s makers applauded my style of interviewing, jokes and shayari. They realised that this was a novel concept, as viewers hadn’t seen interviews on TV in the 1970s.”
She further talked about getting very less remuneration for the show. She said,
I was getting paid peanuts, and people told me that I was being taken advantage of. You will be shocked to know that Doodarshan paid me Rs 70 per show. When the show ended 21 years, I was being paid Rs 750. Ameen Sayani and I S Johar told me I was being exploited. But I wanted to do the show because it had made a household name. I stayed back just because of that greed. But when the younger generation was asked to do shows in the same format, they were paid in thousands. It hurt me and I left. I did TV hoping to earn good money, which didn’t happen. But I got a lot of respect and fame.”
She has appeared in a few Hindi TV serials like ‘Pyaar Ke Do Naam: Ek Raadha, Ek Shyaam’ (2006) and ‘Ladies Special’ (2009).
She has worked on a TV show ‘Abhi Toh Main Jawaan Hoon’ aired on TV Asia USA and Canada. The show is based on the Golden Era of Hindi Cinema.
She has also worked as a host of the TV show ‘Bhakti Main Masti, Tabassum Bhajan Sandhya.’
For more than 15 years, she worked as an editor at the Hindi women’s magazine ‘Grihalakshmi.’ In 1985, she worked as a director, producer, and scriptwriter for the Hindi film ‘Tum Par Hum Qurban’ starring her son, but the film failed miserably at the box office.
In 1987, she directed the Hindi film ‘Kartoot’ which was never released. She has also published more than 10 books on jokes and Urdu Shayari. For the past few years, she has been performing in the stage show ‘Tabassum Hit Parade.’ In 2016, she started a YouTube channel ‘Tabassum Talkies’ in which she uploads her interviews with yesteryear Indian celebrities. As of September 2022, she has around 737k subscribers on her YouTube channel.
- Tabassum gained immense popularity as a child artist in Bollywood with the name Baby Tabassum.
- In an interview, she shared an interesting story behind her name. She said,
My father named me Tabassum, keeping my mother’s religious sentiments in mind. My mother kept my name Kiran Bala, keeping my father’s religious sentiments in mind. My name on all official documents was Kiran Bala Sachdev. After marriage, it became Kiran Bala Govil.”
- The Indian actress Vyjayanthimala used to call her ‘Papa.’ During an interview, Tabassum shared the reason behind it. She said,
Vyjayantimala loved me a lot. She gave me a pet name, ‘papa’. In some places in south India, they call children ‘papa’. She would sing Tamil songs for me. I was offered the role of Madhubala’s younger sister in Mughal-e-Azam. Later, they decided that I was too young for it. I was given another role, but even that got edited out. I don’t have a single scene in the whole movie.”
- In the initial years of her acting career, she used to bring along her father or mother while shooting for films. The Indian actress Madhubala once told Tabassum that if she continued the same in the long run, she would not become a successful actress. In an interview, while talking about it Tabassum said,
Madhubala once told me ‘Tabassum, as long as you have parents with you on the set, you will never be able to become a top heroine.’ Madhubala also advised me never to return to films. She said Don’t ever return to films after marriage. This red mitti (makeup) addiction is very bad. It is like wine. Youth and career are temporary. Your personal life is the destination.”
- Since her teens, she practices yoga regularly.
- Tabassum has helped many Indian celebrities in getting their first acting project in Bollywood. One such actor is Johnny Lever. She spotted him in one of the stage shows and offered him a role in her film. In an interview, while talking about Johnny Lever, she said,
I met Johnny Lever while I was doing a show in Shanmukhananda Hall in Mumbai. My manager saw him performing on the street and brought him in. I haven’t seen a man as talented as Johnny Lever.”
Another Indian celebrity who was first spotted by Tabassum is the Indian singer Sunidhi Chauhan. During an interview, while talking about the same, she said,
Sunidhi Chauhan is also my discovery. I was doing a show in Delhi and she asked for me permission to sing on stage. I told her that it can’t be done and she had to meet my manager. But she insisted. When I went to the washroom during a break in the show, she followed me and said, ‘Listen to my song’ and immediately started singing. I was quite amused. But I let her sing on stage. She sang so well. I told her father to get her to Mumbai and work in Bollywood. I even gave him my home address.”
Tabassum then called Sunidhi and her father to her home. She then advised them to meet the Indian musician Kalyan. In an interview, she talked about it, she said,
They came to my house the same day that Babul Supriyo had come. I told Sunidhi’s father that if she sings in my stage show, it will not benefit her career. I told him to go to Kalyanji’s office and say I had sent him. I called Kalyanji and told him I was sending him a birthday present — it was his birthday that day. The rest is history.”
- In an interview, she shared that once the Indian legendary actor Amitabh Bachchan saved her life like a Bollywood hero. She said,
I was sitting in a wheelchair and conducting the show as my leg was fractured. Suddenly there was a fire and that caused a stampede. ‘I started shouting for help. Nobody responded. They were all running for their lives. Then Amitji came…’
- In 2021, she tested positive for COVID-19. While she was hospitalized, some media sources spread rumors of her death. However, she took to her social media accounts to clear the rumors.
- She has been featured on the cover page of various magazines.
- She has attended various seminars and events as a guest speaker.
- Tabassum has received many awards for her acting skills and for hosting various talk shows.