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Tanuja was born in Bombay into a family of four children as Tanuja Samarth to poet and director Kumarsen Samarth and actress Shobhna Samarth. When she was very young her parents separated. Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
Tanuja says in an interview - "My parents separated before my brother was born: When my parents went their own ways, Jaideep was yet to be born. But although they were no longer husband and wife, they were still Mom and Dad for us. In fact, Dad came to meet us almost everyday. Around then, Mom decided that I would study at St George's in Switzerland because I had a flair for languages. While in Switzerland, Dad wrote to me in German and I always replied in German." Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
Tanuja entered films as a child actress and continued working until 1973. She started her film career with her older sister Nutan in the film Hamari Beti (1950) as Baby Tanuja. Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
Tanuja recalls fond memories of her childhood - "I was a movie star at five! My first school was Villa Theresa, a kindergarten. I then went to Walsingham, a co-ed school from where I remember Vikas Desai, Vasant Desai's son. I had no interest in studies and was a complete brat. In fact, I was the only kid my mother beat up! I was five when my parents made Hamari Beti. When Mom asked whether I wanted to act in a movie, I replied, 'Does that mean no school?' I played baby Nutan in the film and memorised everybody's dialogues, in addition to my own! During shooting, I lost two of my baby teeth and refused to open my mouth. And when I heard my own squeaky voice on tape, I refused to speak! Lots of lemonade with ice finally won me over!" Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
Tanuja says she has been always highly influenced by her mother. In an Interview Tanuja says - "I grew up in awe of my mother: My earliest memories, after I was born on September 23, 1943, in Bombay to Shobhana Samarth and Kumar Singh as the second of four children, are of the fascination I had for my mother. I still remember her red toenails, her red lipstick, her gorgeous sarees with backless cholis, her eyelashes with imported mascara, her oval face... she was so perfect! I was never beautiful. Mom was the pretty one. In fact, people joked that although my parents were good-looking, I hadn't inherited their genes." Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
Tanuja's parents were strict disciplinarians. The actress says - "For my parents, discipline came first: My father was a director and my mother, an actress. Both were strict disciplinarians and we were not allowed chocolates on weekdays. People from the film industry visited us -- David, Jayant, Moti kaka, KN Singh, Begum Para, Nadira. But I was never taken to the sets till Tai (Nutan) was launched in Hamari Beti." Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
People close to the actress when Tanuja was young say that she was an extreamely energetic and enthusiastic young girl. She was said to be always making people laugh and jumping around the house. Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
People close to the actress also say that Tanuja is an extremely avid reader. And the strange part is that Tanuja usually does so with her feet in the air! Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
It is said that Tanuja can never pass a bookstall without stopping to scan its contents. Tanuja's greatest quest was to marry a big bookshop and accept the husband as dowry when she was young! Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
The young Tanuja in an interview says about her acting career, "Can you imagine, with all that money, what a huge library I can have!" Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
But Tanuja was never a plain Jane bookworm. She is pert, pretty and has a whistle-bait figure. She is crazy about ballet, but not stark crazy as with books. Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
Tanuja's mother speaks of her tomboy daughter with pride and affection. "Tanuja never tells lies. She abhors people who lie. Once, pointing to the living-room carpet, I said to a friend: 'That cost Rs. 800.' 'Oh, Mummy,' piped Tanuja, you know it only cost Rs. 775!'" Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
Tanuja's mother Shobhna Samarth is all praises for her daughter. She says Tanuja is the most generous person alive. "In Switzerland, where she goes to school, Tanuja once gave her last 100 francs to a needy British friend, in spite of her own foreign exchange difficulties. Tender-hearted, she always treats, rarely gets treated." Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
Tanuja's mother talks about her daughter in an interview. "She is not very thrifty, either. Once, asked to take the small car to fetch her birthday cake from downtown, she took the big car and returned triumphantly bearing the cake. When her mother reprimanded her for not being economical, she pouted, "So what, Mummy. Don't we have enough?"" Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
Tanuja's mother talks about her daughter in an interview. "But she is also dreadfully independent and can take care of herself at all times. Once, visiting friends at Malabar Hill (the Samarth family then lived at Pedder Road), she found the car hadn't come to fetch her. Beckoning her ayah, she walked home, tired but proud. She was then six years old." Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
Tanuja's family used to call her "Granny". She was said to be very with talks about fate, destiny, sex, politics, philosophy and life in general. Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
Tanuja's mother talks about her daughter in an interview. "She is often blunt to the point of rudeness. Once, after a ballet performance, at her school in Switzerland, she turned to the founder of the school, who took her to be Italian, and said: "Madam, don't insult me. I am Indian." She is fiercely patriotic and will not stand for snobbishness or colour differentiation." Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
Tanuja speaks French and German fluently, has lots of European friends, but is homesick even before the plane reaches Switzerland. She adores Indian food. Thinks European food is horrible. Image Source: Procured via Google Search.
Tanuja has always been extremely proud of her sister, Nutan. When shown a picture of Nutan in a foreign magazine at school, Tanuja burst with pride, as she cried excitedly, "That's my sister!" Later, she wrote in a letter: "Oh, Mummy, you don't know how wonderful it feels to tell people about my sister." Image Source: Procured via Google Search.