Popular As: Uma Devi, Tun Tun
Birth: 1933
Death: 24th November 2003
First Film: Wamaq Azra
Last Film: Kasam Dhandhe Ki
Work Span: 1947 - 1990

Uma Devi was born in 1933 into a conservative Panjabi family in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh. She was unfortunate to lose both her parents at a very young age. As a child she used to enjoy listening to songs on the radio. Soon this enjoyment turned into fascination with film songs. singing was not encouraged at the home of her parental uncle., in whose charge she was now, Ram Lilas were okay. These did not corrupt young minds, it was felt.

In 1944 when Naushad's Rattan songs hit the Indian airwaves, Uma was excited. She wanted to sing the songs that Naushad had composed. She was so impressed with the songs that she decided to become a singer. Not only that, she decided to sing for composer Naushad, no less. With that in mind, she started practising her singing. Two years later she moved to Bombay. But meeting Naushad , without any formal training or Ustaad, without any contacts, was not an easy task. She struggled a lot to become a singer. In the year 1947 she got her first break in Wamaq Azra. The composer of the film Allah Rakha Qureshi (later known as Ustad Allah Rakha), and the film's producer-director Nazir spent valuable time helping her to record the song, 'Haye Do Dil Milte Milte Reh Gaye..'. The formidable Malika Pukhraj had recorded the other tracks in the film. This made yound Uma nervous. But in the end all went well.

Now that she had earned the playback singer's tag she decided to meet Naushad. This time she not only got to meet the maestro, she met film maker Kardar too. They auditioned her and she chose to sing Noorjahan's 'Aandhiyan Gham Ki Yun Chaleen..'. The convinced composer arranged Rs 500 to be given her as advance. What's more they gave her a place to stay at the guesthouse with other staff. Her first song with Naushad became the then racy 'Afsana likh rahi hoon..' picturised on Munawwar Sultana in Dard. It was a hit, and often this is the song she is most remembered by. After Dard, Uma sang for Naushad in a few films like, Naatak, Anokhi Ada, Chandni Raat and Dillagi.

Uma Devi did many other songs for other composers, as for Ghulam Mohammad, in the duest with Lata Mangeshkar in Maang" 'Na Jaane Aaj Kyun Ghabra Raho Ho'. She sang many songs till the year 1949. Buy by then her golden days of playback singing were probably over. She was pushed back with the rise of new talents in the industry. Meanwhile she also put on a lot of weight which inspired laughter. She capitalized on this and switched to becoming a comedienne, with a little help from Naushad, who also became her Rakhi brother. Uma Devi always dreamt big. Now infront of the camera she wanted to act with Dilip Kumar. Once again fortune favored her and she got to work with him soon in Babul in 1950. She did the role of an obese girl who was in love with Dilip Kumar and wanted to marry him. The comic relief in the otherwise heavy film came from her.

She was instantly accpted in her new avatar. After Babul, she came to be called Tun Tun. She claims that it was the audience that gave her that name. No one knows what Tun Tun means but Uma gave this a meaning. Tun Tun now means the fat actress. She acted in many films like, Aar Paar, Baaz, Deedar, Gunaah, Andher Nagri Chaupat Raja, Chori Chori, Udan Khatola, Mr & Mrs 55 and dozens of films, bringing mirth and joy to millions.

Uma was the woman who showed us that one must dream big and wait for it to take shape. She always attempted to bring joy and cheer in poeple's lives, always allowing herself to be the butt of jokes. In mid November 2003, Uma Devi complained of fever and convulsions, She was admitted to Hospital where she passed away on November 24. She is survived by 2 sons and 2 daughters.

Contributed by: Mr. Manek Premchand
Author: Yesterday's Melodies Today's Memories

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