Tanvi Azmi is undeterred about her tonsured look in Bajirao Mastani, in which she plays Radhabai, the mother of Ranveer Singh’s Bajirao Ballal Bhat. Before taking on the role for the December 18 release, she was aware that it could lead to other offers slipping away. Azmi said, “Yes, I was approached for All Is Well but due to overlapping dates and my bald look, I couldn’t take it up. It was a great role, but other things will come in future, I guess.”

Azmi has always played by this instinct. Born to actress Usha Kiran on November 9, 1960, she began her acting career in 1985. Her first appearance was as a widow in Vijaya Mehta’s acclaimed drama Rao Saheb, in which she proved that she was here to act and would take on such a challenging role with as much sincerity as anything else that came her way.


Unfortunately, Azmi got typecast soon after she played Mithun Chakraborty’s hapless sister in Pyari Behna (1985). Tanvi met cinematographer Baba Azmi on the sets of the production and married him later. Her next major role was as poet Mirza Ghalib’s wife, Umrao Begum, in the television series of the same name, written and directed by Gulzar.

Azmi played the part of an ageing wife to her elderly husband Ghalib (Naseeruddin Shah) with such aplomb that it was hard to tell that she was a young woman in her twenties and raring to go.


The success of the show lead to other parts in television, such as Lohit Kinare (1988), Lifeline (1991) and Zameen Aasman (1995). Azmi followed up her television work with roles in Darr (1993), Akele Hum Akele Tum (1995) and Dushman (1998), playing everything from an anguished mother to a sympathetic neighbour. These are small parts that she perfected. Her roles may have been brief, but her performance was never wasted.

In her role as a mother (Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, 2013, Lai Bhaari, 2014) Azmi has always shown the promise of something better coming along. Could her role as a matriarch with a tonsured head in Bajirao Mastani surprise viewers the way Supriya Pathak’s turn as the ferocious Dhankor in Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela re-vitalised that actresses's career? Tanzi Azmi is not done yet.