Veteran actress and talk show host, Tabassum started her career as child actor Baby Tabassum in 1947. She went on to carve a successful career as the host of Indian television’s first talk show - Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan. The show, on which she interviewed film and television personalities in her inimitable style, aired on Doordarshan from 1972 to 1993. As a feature film actress, she essayed character roles in films such as Mughal-e-Azam (1960), Heer Ranjha (1970), and Chameli Ki Shadi (1976), her last film appearance being in Swarg (1990). She also directed, produced and wrote the film Tum Par Hum Qurban (1985). Acting in the TV serial Pyaar Ke Do Naam: Ek Raadha, Ek Shyaam, as well as Abhi Toh Main Jawaan Hoon based on the golden period of Hindi films, she also featured as judge in the reality stand-up comedy show Ladies Special. Her YouTube channel, Tabassum Talkies features film nostalgia as well as celebrity interviews.
She was born Kiran Bala Sachdev on 9 July, 1944 in Bombay to Ayodhyanath Sachdev, an Indian freedom fighter, and Asghari Begum, freedom fighter, journalist and an author. Interestingly, she was named Tabassum by her father, who sought to keep her mother's religious sentiments in mind. Her mother, on the other hand, named her Kiran Bala, keeping her father’s religious sentiments in mind. Eventually, her official name as per documents, was Kiran Bala Sachdev.
Making her film debut as a child artiste, she featured in the film Nargis (1947) followed by Mera Suhaag (1947), Manjhdhar (1947) and Bari Behen (1949). In Nitin Bose’s Deedar (1951) she played the childhood role of Nargis. She also featured in the hit song Bachpan ke din bhula na dena rendered by Lata Mangeshkar and Shamshad Begum in the film. The following year, she featured in the childhood role of Meena Kumari in Vijay Bhatt’s Baiju Bawra (1952). Other films she featured in during this period include Mera Suhaag (1947), Chhoti Bhabhi (1950), Sargam (1950), Jogan (1950), Gumashta (1953), Aaram (1951), Deedar (1951), Bahar (1951), Afsana (1951), and Baap Beti (1954). After a break, she returned to films in adult roles. Among the films she went on to feature in are College Girl (1960), Mughal-e-Azam (1960), Dharmputra (1961), Phir Wohi Dil Laya Hoon (1963), Dara Singh: Ironman (1964), Zimbo Ka Beta (1966), Ganwaar (1970), Bachpan (1970), Heer Raanjha (1970), Johny Mera Naam (1970), Shri Krishna Leela (1971), Shree Krishnarjun Yuddh (1971), Ladki Pasand Hai (1971), Gambler (1971), Adhikar (1971), Tere Mere Sapne (1971), Shaadi Ke Baad (1972), Maa Bahen Aur Biwi (1974), Naache Mayuri (1986), Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986), and Swarg (1990).
Tabassum acted in supporting roles in films; however, her real success came on television as talk show host of Indian television’s first talk show, Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan. Produced by Doordarshan Kendra, Mumbai, it was an immensely popular programme which saw Tabassum interviewing film celebrities. Her friendly, chatty style of interviewing became highly popular, as she drew out the life experiences of cinema’s stars. Phool Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan ran for 21 years from 1972 to 1993. Tabassum also enjoyed considerable success as a stage compere.
Returning to television in 2006, Tabassum acted in Rajshri Productions’ Pyaar Ke Do Naam: Ek Raadha, Ek Shyaam. She was a judge in the reality stand-up comedy show, Ladies Special (2009). Her work as an interviewer continued with Abhi Toh Main Jawaan Hoon on the golden years of Hindi cinema.
She also launched her YouTube channel Tabassum Talkies, which comprises nostalgic features, celebrity interviews and more.
On the personal front, she is married to Vijay Govil, elder brother of TV actor Arun Govil. Their son Hoshang Govil acted in a few films such as Tum Par Hum Qurbaan (1985), Kartoot (1987), and Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeah (1996) produced by Zee TV and directed by J Om Prakash. Her granddaughter Khushi made her film debut with Hum Phir Mile Na Mile (2009).