The rosy-cheeked, innocent-faced Baby Guddu, born Shahinda Baig, was perhaps the most popular child artiste of the 1980s Hindi cinema. Known for her performances in films such as Pyar Kiya Hai Pyar Karenge (1986), Aakhir Kyon? (1985), Kudrat Ka Kanoon (1987), and Jurm (1990), she would have up to seven film releases in a single year. She also shared screen space with leading names of the time such as Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Sunny Deol, and Sridevi, among others. Her admirable acting skills and cute demeanor ensured she became a household name and earned her a huge fan following. Frequently interviewed, she also featured on the covers of magazines. She was cast in both male and female child roles in myriad films through the decade, post which she quit films at age 11. Staying away from the film industry, she did not attempt to pursue a career as a heroine.
Born in 1980 to mother Mumtaz and film director father M M Baig, who had directed the film Choti Bahu in 1994, she started off making a splash in advertisements. The Colgate ad aired on Doordarshan was one of her earliest ad films. She featured in it along with Sangeeta Bijlani and a male model playing her parents, endorsing the toothpaste. From crying because of a toothache to endorsing, “I love its fresh minty taste,” after using the toothpaste, she made her impact in the ad, winning hearts across the country. She would go on to appear in other popular ads as well, such as Melody chocolates in which she is portrayed as a glamorous, grown-up star arriving at a big event in her swish car. From amongst the media crowding her, one journalist asks how Melody became so chocolatey. With a twinkle in her eye, she responds with the well-loved line, “Melody khao, khud jaan jao’.
It was reportedly on the suggestion of actress Kiran Joneja that Baby Guddu’s parents explored the realm of films for their daughter. Gaining a break as a child artiste, she would go on to feature in more than 30 films in the span of her career. Among her notable films, she played the daughter of Anand (Anil Kapoor) in the romantic drama directed by Pyar Kiya Hai Pyar Karenge (1986). The plot of the film revolved around Anand and Usha (Padmini Kolhapure) who are separated in love. Years later they meet and speak about how happy they are in their respective married lives but the reality is quite different. She essayed an important role playing Munni Verma in K C Bokadia’s drama thriller Kudrat Ka Kanoon (1987). The Mahesh Bhatt-directed Jurm (1990) saw her feature onscreen as the daughter of Inspector Shekhar Varma (Vinod Khanna) and Meena Verma (Meenakshi Seshadri) in this critically and commercially successful film.
Some of her early releases include Aakhir Kyon and Bepanaah both released in 1985. The former J Om Prakash directorial Aakhir Kyon saw her cast as Pooja, the daughter of Nisha (Smita Patil) and Kabir Suri (Rakesh Roshan) in the drama film that was declared a hit on its release. Bepanah saw her cast as the child Rohit in the family drama directed by Jagdish Sidana, starring Shashi Kapoor, Mithun Chakraborty and Poonam Dhillon.
She soon became the child artiste of choice for filmmakers, appearing in a host of films during the decade. Bhagwaan Dada (1986) saw her feature in the J Om Prakash directorial, starring Rajinikanth, Rakesh Roshan and Sridevi. She played Ginny, sister to Sridevi’s character Bijli in the drama thriller.
Nagina (1986), the thumping hit directed by Harmesh Malhotra, saw her cast as the young Rajiv (Rishi Kapoor) in the fantasy romance film. The film revolves around Rajni, a shape-shifting cobra, who marries a civilian to avenge the death of her spouse at the hands of an evil saint.
Parivaar (1987), the Shashilal K Nair-directed family drama, saw her play a character named Bobby in the film that told the story of Anita (Meenakshi Seshadhri) who finds shelter with a street perfomer Birju (Mithun Chakraborty) when she is abandoned by her relatives due to dowry issues.
She acted in Vijay Sadanah’s Aulad (1987) starring Jeetendra, Jaya Prada and Sridevi. It told the tale of a man who, believing his wife to be dead, lets a woman, who has lost her child, nurse and bring up his infant son - until he finds out that his wife is still alive, and wants the baby back at any cost.
In the 1988 K Bapaiah-directed Pyar Ka Mandir, she played a character named Geeta S Kumar. The family drama revolved around a man who takes the blame for a crime in return for money to get his sister married and educate his brothers. After his release, when he goes to meet his brothers who are doing well in life, they reject him. It starred Mithun Chakraborty and Madhavi in the lead roles.
She played Seeta (Jaya Prada)’s daughter in the Kalpataru directorial Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani (1988), and a character coincidentally named Guddu in the action thriller Do Qaidi (1989), starring Sanjay Dutt, Govinda and Farha Naaz, directed by Ajay Kashyap.
The B Subhash directed Love, Love, Love (1989), starring Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla, saw her cast as Munni Verma, in the romantic drama that involved Amit, the son of a taxi driver, and Reema, a rich business man's daughter, who fall in love. However Reema's father wants to marry her to Vicky, whose father is the biggest gangster in the city.
In Aag Se Khelenge (1989), directed by Subhash Ghai and Bhaskar Shetty, she played a character called Pinky Saxena in the action genre film starring Jeetendra, Anil Kapoor, Meenakshi Seshadri and Kimi Katkar.
Among the other films she featured in are Deepak Shivdasani’s Ladaai (1989) starring Rekha, Mithun Chakraborty and Dimple Kapadia; Kroadh (1990) starring Sanjay Dutt, Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh; K C Bokadia’s crime drama Aaj Ka Arjun (1990) starring Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Prada; Anil Suri’s Begunaah (1991) starring Rajesh Khanna; Mohanji Prasad’s Ghar Parivaar (1991) starring Rajesh Khanna, Rishi Kapoor and Raj Kiran. Her last release was the Ramsay brothers’ Inspector Dhanush (1991).
After a relatively short but immensely successful career as a child artiste, Baby Guddu quit the film industry at age 11, at the behest of her family, to focus on her education. She evidently did not attempt to seek a career as a full-fledged actress and stayed away from the film industry.
Currently, she lives in Dubai, is reportedly happily married, and works with an international airline.