Appreciated for very bubbly personality and wonderful comic timing Tun Tun was one of the first woman comediennes of Hindi cinema. But comedy was second choice as her acting and comic timing don’t require any extra effort. She from beginning was determined to carve her niche as a singer in Bollywood. To some extent she succeeded by giving her voice in films like Dard, Dillagi, and Raat. But fate had something else in store for her. She later on switched to acting and in years to come became a household name with her terrific acting skills. She died on 23 November 2003 in Andheri, Mumbai, after a prolonged illness at the age of 80 and is survived by her four children and four grandchildren.
Born as Uma Devi on 11 July 1923 in Uttar Pradesh Tun Tun was one of the most popular faces of Bollywood. Due to untimely death of her parents, she was raised by her brother and later by her uncle. She was married to Mohan and the couple had two daughters and two sons.
Uma Devi Khatri famously known as Tun Tun though entertained audiences for decades with her comic lines was also an accomplished singer. Legendry Music wizard Naushad shaped her career in music industry. Tun Tun during her early days used to listen film songs from radio. When Naushad heard her voice he instantly made her sign a contract with A. R. Kardar Production as their 'exclusive' lady playback singer, earning 500 rupees a month! A young girl with golden baritone her debut song "Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon Dil-e-beqarar ka" was a runaway hit. She also sang a duet 'Yeh Kaun Chala' with Suraiya. She was at the peak of her stardom with her name at par with legendry singers of that time including Zohrabai Ambalewali, Noorjehan and Shamshad Begum. She gave her voice in Dillagi Chandni Raat ('Chandni Raat Hai, Dekhi Kya Raat Hai'), and Naatak.
Tun Tun remained Naushad's favourite performer. Her other two songs "Kahe jiya dole" and "Dil ko lagake humne kuch bhi na paya" from Mehboob Khan's Anokhi Ada (1948) brought her into the league of highly rated playback singers. She achieved pinnacle of her success with S.S. Vasan's "Chandralekha" (1948) made by Gemini Studios, Chennai. All songs including hits like, "Saanjh ki bela", remain her most accomplished work in her singing career. But unfortunately her career came to halt after she breached contact with producer-director A.R. Kardar, which led to her dwindling fortunes in the industry. Originally super hit song 'Ayega Aane Wala...' (MAHAL) was written for Tun Tun but went to upcoming singer Lata Mangeshkar, thus making Lata a star singer.
From 1950, songs for her in films started getting reduced because of her older style of singing and limited vocal range. The period saw the rise of other singing stars like Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. She was suggested by Naushad to take up acting. She got her name Tun Tun from Dilip Kumar Starrer film Babul (1950) which also had Nargis as the lead actress. With the release of the film a comedic legend was born. From here there was no stopping. She got many other movies including Guru Dutt's classics like Aar Paar (1954), Mr. & Mrs. '55 (1955) and Pyaasa (1957). She remained on the top list of comic actors and was a permanent comic relief in numerous Bollywood films. She also starred in Amitabh Bachchan starrer, Namak Halaal (1982), a Prakash Mehra's blockbuster.
During her lifetime Tun Tun acted in almost 198 films and shared screen space with veterans like Bhagwan Dada, Johnny Walker, Agha, Mukri, Sunder, Dhumal, and Keshto Mukherjee. She was last seen in Hindi film in 'Kasam Dhande Ki' (1990). Owing to her popularity, the name Tun Tun has become synonymous with fat women in India.
Tun Tun died after a prolonged illness on 23 November 2003 in Andheri, Mumbai. Condoling her death Cine Artiste Association president Chandrashekhar said, "Her death is a major loss to the film industry." Tun Tun saw golden days of her life and earned love and respect for her melodic voice and acting skill.
May her soul rest in peace .
Entire Film Industry
(FAN OF Shrimati TUN TUN)
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