Is there anything that the incredibleTabucan’t do? From Lady Macbeth to Gertrude, Tabu has played the most pivotal literary characters in Hindi films. She won her first national award for Gulzar’sMaachis, when she was just 25 years old. Her vulnerability on the screen was a piece of simmering intensity that left everyone in awe of her.

AfterMaachis,Tabuwent on to do films that defied all odds. Her appearances inVirasat, Hu Tu Tu, Astitva, Chandni Bar, Maqbool, Cheeni Kum, The NamesakeandHaidermade her the finest actress of her generation and one of the greatest actresses in Hindi cinema’s history.

LikeSmita Patil andShabana Azmibefore her,Tabuhas a ferocious intelligence that glimmers on the screen when she inhabits the character — you almost see it in her eyes.

Tabuis one of the very, very few actresses who manages to choose characters that have different shades. And it’s another such performance thatTabugives in Abhishek Kapoor’sFitoor. She maintains a great amount of restraint in her postures — even when she’s broken, that’s an audacity of its own kind.

She allows her character, Begum Hazrat, to retain a slice of unknowability, or maybe mystery to invite the audience deeper in.

Two of the sequences inFitoor, involvingTabu, may well be added to the gallery of exquisite Indian art. In one of the situations, right after the interval, Begum Hazrat[Miss HavishaminGreat Expectations] recalls her past. As soon as the flashbacks end, you’ll see Begum muttering a verse in Arabic repeatedly.

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Following is the English translation of the verse that Begum recited:

Translation: Verily, God is with those who are patient.

I wish this part could’ve been subtitled because a large chunk of the target audience may not have been aware of the verse’s meaning, which is deep and thought-provoking considering Begum’s past. In this particular sequence,Tabushakes your heart with a hauntingly melancholic pain flowing through her eyes — forcing you to feel for her character.

There is another such spine-chilling moment when Begum switches her attire from glare to glamour seamlessly as she visits Noor’s [Aditya Roy Kapur] art exhibition in London.

On the same day, Noor visits Begum in the middle of night. At this particular moment, Begum conveys a palpable sense of devastation through her words. She turns into a breathing individual who is far more delicate than her words.

Here,Tabubrings the audience to a point where she earns their tears with her sincerity. It is a performance that must be cherished for years to come.

Tabuhas often played the role of strong women, but Begum Hazrat’s vulnerability will earn your warmth without over-dramatization. It’s incredible to watch her.Unafraid to lose the sympathy of audience, Tabufinds an innate sadness in the portrait of Begum that reminded me of Charlotte Rampling’s portrayal of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations (1999).

Apart from Tabu’s performance, everything is pitch-perfect inFitoor. In a heart-melting collaboration, Abhishek KapoorandSupratik Senhave mounted a fragile aura of grief in Fitoor that lingers in your mind long after you’ve left the cinema. You don’t end up loving the movie for Tabu’s performance only, but you will love it for the profound character study and deep investigation that has gone into crafting Begum Hazrat’s role. Bravo!

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