Mostly recognized by her screen name, Tuntun was renowned as the Hindi cinema’s first-ever comedienne, Uma Devi Khatri was born in 1923, in a small village of Uttar Pradesh.
1. Uma Khatri’s childhood was full of poverty, sorrows, and difficulties. Her parents were killed for land arrogate, and her brother was also killed when she was around 4.
2. At the age of 23, Uma ran from Uttar Pradesh to Mumbai to follow her dream of becoming a singer. The first door she knocked in Mumbai was of the composer Naushad Ali.
3. Her encounter with Naushad Ali was a bit humorous. Ali hired her on-the-spot after she told him that she could sing and would throw herself in the ocean if he didn’t give her a chance!
4. She was a debut single playback singer in Waqam Azra (1946). After getting a break that big, her career went on like a storm. She then got featured in Noor Jehan, Rajkumari, Khursheed Bano, and Zohrabai Ambalewali.
5. Uma was married to Akhtar Abbas Kazi, whom she met earlier before coming to Mumbai. The whole India-Pakistan partition scenario separated both of them. She decided to go to Mumbai to pursue her dreams.
6. Kazi Sahib moved to Lahore but eventually decided to move to Mumbai, where they got married in 1947.
7. During the period of her music career, Tuntun has given us a lot of unforgettable songs like,
- Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon Dil-e-Beqarar Ka’
- ‘Yeh Kaun Chala Meri Aankhon Mein Sama Kar’
- ‘Aaj Machi Hai Dhoom Jhoom Khushi Se Jhoom’
8. After getting songs in Big Brand’s movies, Uma Devi was unstoppable. She then tested her acting skills on Dilip Kumar’s advice in Babul. Dilip Kumar was the one who given her name Tuntun.
9. Later on, she got featured in Guru Dutt’s masterpieces like Aar Paar (1954), Mr. & Mrs. ’55 (1955) and Pyaasa (1957). In her stretched career in Bollywood, Tuntun has been a part of 198 films.
10. Two days before her passing, Tuntun was interviewed by the film historian and critic Shishir Krishna Sharma.
Tuntun said, “I don’t remember who my parents were and how they looked, I would be two to two and half years old when they passed away, I had a brother eight or nine years old whose name was Hari. I just remembered that we were living in a village named Alipur. One day my brother was killed and left for a maidservant to relatives in exchange for two meals, that time I was four or five years old”.
11. Tuntun died on 23 March 2003, leaving all her painful struggle, beautiful memories, her sweet voice, and her funny nature behind with us.
12. Tuntun was a brave actress as she used her fat body and brown colour to make the audience laugh, instead of feeling ugly about it.
At times, even compared with the Great Charlie Chaplin, we, the team of Desi ChalChitra, give hats-off to one of the most inspiring and the funniest actresses Bollywood ever had–Uma Devi Khatri aka Tuntun.
Love to watch films, love to write about films and most importantly love to think about films. A cinephile chatterbox with a Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communication.