Remembering Tun Tun on her 20th Death Anniversary (24/11/03)

BollywooDirect
2 min readNov 24, 2023

Today marks the 20th death anniversary of Uma Devi Khatri aka #TunTun. She was a well-known singer and actress, famous for being the first female comedian in Hindi cinema. Uma was born in 1923 in a small village near Amroha, Uttar Pradesh, India. Tragically, her parents and brother were killed over a land dispute. Uma lost her family when she was very young and had to live as a maid with relatives. Despite these hardships, Uma’s life changed when she met Akhtar Abbas Kazi, an Excise Duty Inspector, who supported and encouraged her. During the India-Pakistan partition, Kazi moved to Lahore, but Uma went to Bombay (now Mumbai) to pursue a singing career in movies. They later married in Bombay in 1947. Uma bravely approached composer Naushad Ali in Bombay, asking for a chance to sing, and he gave her an opportunity. She debuted as a singer in the film “Wamiq Azra” (1946) and quickly made a name for herself. Uma had a series of hit songs in the 1940s, including in the movie “Dard” (1947). Her singing career flourished, and she became one of the top playback singers. However, as music styles changed, she found it hard to compete with newer singers. Naushad suggested she try acting, and she debuted in the film “Babul” (1950) alongside Dilip Kumar, where she got her stage name “Tun Tun.” Tun Tun became a famous comic actor, appearing in many films over the next decades, including with stars like Amitabh Bachchan. She acted in about 198 films in various languages, becoming a well-loved figure in Bollywood comedy. Her last film appearance was in “Kasam Dhande Ki” (1990). Tun Tun’s name became a cultural reference in India, often associated with comic characters.

--

--