Tun Tun’s 99th Birth Anniversary: Facts About “Hindi Cinema’s First-Ever Comedienne”

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The singer, actor, and comedian Uma Devi Khatri is most commonly known as Tun Tun. Described as “Hindi cinema’s first-ever comedienne”, Tun Tun was born 99 years ago on July 11, 1923, in Uttar Pradesh.

Tun Tun began her career in the Hindi film industry as a playback singer. She made a name for herself as a singer in the film industry, but in the following years, she was unable to compete with singers Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle. Thus, Tun Tun was advised to take up acting and was cast in the 1950 film Babul, starring Dilip Kumar and Nargis. One of the well-known Tun Tun facts is that Kumar was the actor who coined her new name to suit her comedic persona following her acting debut in the film Babul.

Tun Tun’s last appearance in Hindi films was in the 1990 movie Kasam Dhande Ke. In her 40 years of acting, Tun Tun has featured in around 198 films. On November 23, 2003, she passed away at the age of 80 and is survived by her four children and grandchildren.

Here are some Tun Tun facts that are less commonly known about the playback singer turned comedic icon in Hindi cinema.

Suggested Reading: Did You Know Veteran Actor Tun Tun Was Bollywood’s First Female Comedian?

Lesser-Known Tun Tun Facts

  • The playback singer, actor, comedian and icon in Indian cinema Tun Tun was orphaned when she was young. Following the death of her parents, she lived with her older brother until his death. She was forced to work for her relatives in exchange for meals by the time she was four or five years old.
  • She had wanted to be a singer since she was a child. Raised in a small village, she was able to attend school and spent her time listening to songs on the radio. Since singing was taboo in the orthodox North Indian household, she secretly practised singing and was inspired by film songs and Ramlila, the dramatic folk re-enactment based on the epic
  • Tun Tun’s journey in Hindi cinema began in 1946 after she travelled to Mumbai to pursue a career as a playback singer in films. At the age of 23, she ran away from home and met the actor and director Arun Kumar Ahuja and his singer and actor wife Nirmala Devi, the parents of actor Govinda.
  • The couple introduced her to music directors, including Allah Rakha. She then made her debut as a playback singer in the 1946 film Wamiq Azra.
  • Tun Tun then met and convinced composer Naushad Ali to audition her and was hired.
  • Reportedly, Tun Tun’s rendition of the song Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon enamoured a man from Pakistan named Mohan. He and Tun Tun got married and he passed away in 1992.
  • After years of a successful career as a playback singer, she switched to acting on the advice of Ali.
  • She wanted a role opposite actor Dilip Kumar and was hired as an actor for the 1950 film. The role was created for her and Kumar coined the name ‘Tun Tun’.