Free Press Journal

Remembering Uma Devi… alias Tun Tun the singer, first female comedian


Remembering Uma Devi on death anniversary. She was well known as Tun Tun, the name given by legendary Bollywood actor Dilip Kumar on screen. She was a famous comedian and a talented singer. In fact, Uma Devi was a first Indian female comedian in Bollywood.

Tun Tun’s journey to Bollywood and singing…

She was born in an north Indian family in Uttar Pradesh. Her parents died during her teenage, following which her brother and uncle raised her. During those days, in UP there was no tradition to send girls to school, as a result of which Tun Tun did not do any schooling.

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However, her in-bound talent and attraction towards filmy songs brought her to Mumbai. She used to sings songs after hearing then on radio. Hence, she ran from her house and came to Mumbai to become a singer. She met Naushad Ali’s and got a chance to sing songs alike “Afshana Likh Rahi Hu”, “Yeh Kaun Chala Meri Aankhon Mein Sama Kar”, and “Aaj Machi Hai Dhoom Jhoom Khushi Se Jhoom”, which she sang for actress Munawar Sultana in A.R. Kardar’s (1947).

Then, she also sang a duet, “Betaab Hai Dil Dard-e-Mohabat Ke Asar Se”, with Suraiya.  In fact a gentleman from Dilhi was enamoured from her songs “Afshana Likh Rahi Hu”, He came to Mumbai and marred her. The couple had two daughter and two sons. Tun Tun’s husband died in 1992.

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Competition in Bollywood and act with Dilip Kumar

As competition in Bollywood increased following the advent of melody queen Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhosle, Naushad Ali asked TunTun to try her skills in acting. For which, she replied that if I want to act in films than, I want to act only with Dilip Kumar. Following which, Naushad Ali asked his friend Dilip Kumar to cast her in one his films, and she debuted in “Babul” in 1950. In one the scene Dilip Kumar ran behind Tun Tun and fell on her on bed an then he called her and renamed her as Tun Tun to suit her comic persona.

She went on to act in Guru Dutt’s classics like Aar Paar (1954), Mr. & Mrs. 55 (1955) and Pyaasa (1957). In the 1960s and 1970s, she was a permanent comic relief in numerous Bollywood films.

After a long prolonged illness at the age of 80, she died on 23 November, 2003 in Mumbai.

Here we bring some video of comedy scene from her movies.