‘Success is a gamble, can’t be taken for granted’: Tabu on Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and Drishyam 2

In a year where hyper-masculinity ruled, one woman ruled. It’s twice. Two of Tabu’s movies, Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and Drishyam 2, raked in more than Rs 350 crore in India, making her the only Bollywood star to do so.

As she sits on a couch in her living room, surrounded by happy, excited energy, the actor pinches herself for being reminded of her golden run. A team effort and her desire to never get complacent made her phenomenal last year. As far as my career is concerned, I can’t calculate it, but I can’t sit on my laurels either.”

Tabu opens up about her idea of success, her growing fan base, and being Tabu in an exclusive interview with

Edited excerpts:


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How do you look at 2022 for you?

It was hectic, challenging, and tough because I was doing four or five films simultaneously. All of us in the film team worked hard for the last one and a half years. It started with COVID, then routine testing, and then people got COVID. We weren’t used to it. Still, I enjoyed my work – from Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, Khufiya, Kuttey, and Drishyam 2.

I’m most happy with Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2 and Drishyam 2’s success because we worked hard. As an actor, Bhool Bhulaiyaa was physically challenging for me. I did everything: romance, dance, action, horror, double role, and ghost! I knew the movie belonged to Anjulika-Manjulika when I heard the first line. Manjulika had the ‘hero’ entry in the film. Having all this experience in your career is incredible.

I felt at home in Drishyam! There weren’t many movies in this space back then, especially with established names. It didn’t even occur to me that there would be a sequel. It was a great Hindi adaptation. My expectations were big, but this has exceeded them. It’s worked out for me so far.

Did you learn anything about success early on?

You can’t take it for granted, and you can’t be sure if it’ll work. It’s especially true in movies, where there are so many variables. Some people make calculations and predict what will happen, but I’m scared to take success for granted, to think it’ll happen again. You’ll be surprised by destiny, then. You have to be grateful and gracious to everyone who helped you succeed. It’s not enough to rest on your laurels. Don’t get stuck in one place too long.

When you’re successful, how do you celebrate?

My friends call me from all over the world when my family watches my films, and they send me pictures. I have a friend in Dubai, Chandrika, who runs a beauty salon. So she’s taking all 50 girls to the theatre, cheering for me, and sending me videos! I’m most concerned about these things.

Kiara Advani recently said you’re the ‘golden girl of Bollywood. It’s also the more considerable sentiment – it’s your year. 

Oh my God (long pause). That’s really sweet of Kiara. Having people say those things about me makes me feel fortunate. I feel honoured that they’re really celebrating me. There’s genuine affection and love for me. It just fills my heart with gratitude.

This sense of security, this Zen-like state, where does it come from?

I’m the only one with that personality. My friends have known me this way for years. I don’t think I’ve changed. Despite all the distractions, I’ve kept doing good work and improving. For me, it’s an anchor, and I can’t let go of it.


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Many young girls and boys adore you; they call you ‘queen’, ‘icon’, or ‘goddess’. They’re revisiting your older stuff, which is fascinating. 

I feel exhilarated. My heart would swell if I could meet them and show them, my love. Making you feel like your whole journey has meant a lot to people. Thanks to all these filmmakers for making those films and letting me find my space with work that has reached out to people. Namesake and Maqbool, for example, were ahead of their time, so I can imagine people connecting to them when they revisit them.

In other news, you were spotted at Karan Johar’s 50th birthday party this year, which surprised people. It’s rare to see you at these things.

(Laughs) No one was partying for two years, so I wasn’t alone. Karan is an old friend; I’ve known him since he became a director. Any party he invites me to, I’m there. His parties are fun.


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What are you looking for at this point in your career?

I don’t want to get to a particular place. That wasn’t my goal. I want to reach a certain point in the film I’m making. I can’t plan long-term. My growth doesn’t just happen linearly but in all directions. My first thought when a movie is offered to me is what will be the experience and what will it establish for me in my career?

A good example is Bhool Bhulaiyaa 2, and I’d never done anything like that before and never worked with Anees Bazmee, a director I admire. I love exploring new places. Over 25 years of working with people you’re comfortable with is a blessing, too. No matter if it’s Ajay Devgn or Vishal Bhardwaj. This feels like my playground, so I’m going to play.

Actors wouldn’t want to play a ghost because of the scope of what they could do.

That’s awesome!

However, it’s as if you don’t look down on anyone.

I don’t; I’ve never done it. Every character is an opportunity for self-discovery. Going on sets, figuring out my personality, collaborating and bringing it to life is fun. When a film hits, it’s a different chapter. Creating that final chapter is what you work towards from day one. It is the filmmaking process that gives me the most joy; it is what fuels my passion for filmmaking.


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How does it feel to be Tabu?

At any given time, more than one part of you is working. You’re many people in one lifetime, playing many roles. It’s what you identify most that you’d put your energy into. I go to work with the point that I have to be on time, do the scene properly, not forget my lines, do action, and be alert so I don’t break my jaw!

I’m just chilling with my mom, dog, family, and friends in the building where I’ve lived for so long when I’m not acting. That’s where I’m comfortable. I also want to start writing again. It’s great, but I haven’t written in a while.

No, it’s not a script. It’s about stuff I write. It’s a lot of writing for me. Also, I’ve started singing again! I’ve been learning Hindustani classics for a while. All those things I do. It’s my space; I love it. It keeps me happy.

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Kavya Mishra

Hi, I'm Kavya Mishra, an entertainment journalist with a passion for all things Bollywood. I graduated from Lady Shri Ram College for Women–Delhi University (LSR–DU) in 2016, where I honed my writing and communication skills. During my time at LSR–DU, I completed an editorial internship at India Today and gained valuable experience working in the editorial department. After completing my degree, I worked as a writer for missmalini, one of India's top entertainment websites. At missmalini, I wrote engaging and informative articles on the latest celebrity news, movie releases, and fashion trends. My love for all things entertainment, combined with my exceptional writing skills, made me a valuable asset to the missmalini team. I'm known in the industry for my geeky passion for Bollywood and my ability to unearth the juiciest and most exclusive news stories. I have an extensive network of industry insiders, which enables me to get the inside scoop on the latest happenings in the entertainment world. As a driven and dedicated entertainment journalist, I'm always striving to be at the forefront of the industry. I have an innate ability to connect with my readers and am committed to providing them with the latest and most accurate information on their favorite celebrities and movies.

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