Tabu was born to Jamal Hashmi and Rizwana. Her mother was a school teacher and her maternal grandparents were retired professors who ran a school. She went to St. Anns High school in Hyderabad. Tabu moved to Mumbai in 1983 and studied at St. Xavier's College for two years. Tabu's first credited role came as a teenager in Dev Anand's Hum Naujawan (1985), and her first major role was in the Telugu film Coolie No. 1 in 1991.Her performance in Gulzar's Maachis (1996) proved to be a breakthrough for her. She had a brief role in the war film Border, the highest-grossing Hindi film of 1997 and in the Priyadarshan-directed drama Virasat. Among her 1999 releases were two of the top-grossing Bollywood films of the year—the comedy Biwi No.1, and the family drama Hum Saath-Saath Hain. She also starred in Gulzar's Hu Tu Tu. The film garnered positive reviews from critics but performed poorly at the box office. In 2003, she starred in the Bengali film Abar Aranye. Her other releases of 2003 are Hawa, Jaal: The Trap were commercial failures. The year 2006 saw Tabu star in her first international project—the Mira Nair-directed adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's novel The Namesake. Also that year, she played a brief role in the romantic thriller Fanaa. In 2014, Tabu starred alongside Salman Khan in Jai Ho, and garnered critical acclaim. Her upcoming movie is Missing.