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Her role as a Punjabi woman caught in the rise of Sikh insurgency was acclaimed; she went on to win her first National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance.
The same year saw her major blockbuster films down south.
The film was a success at the box office and Tabu won the Filmfare Critics Award for Best Performance.
In 1999, she starred in two successful multi-starrer films; Biwi No.1 and Hum Saath-Saath Hain: We Stand United.
This was followed by many films that did not do well at the box office. Two films Saajan Chale Sasural and Jeet went on to be hits; both were within the top five films of that year.
Her other significant film, Maachis, was critically acclaimed.
Maqbool was a box office failure, but was met with huge acclaim.
2001 saw her star in Chandni Bar directed by Madhur Bhandarkar.
Her portrayal of a bar dancer met with unanimous praise, and she won her second National Film Award for Best Actress for her performance.
The mind-blowing range of emotions she displays, her exquisite face and her subtle quiet dignity with which she handles her character, will take her far in her film career." Down south, Tabu had two releases in Tamil, namely Kandukondain Kandukondain, a multi-starrer blockbuster film directed by Rajeev Menon; and Snegithiye directed by Priyadarshan, along with a Malayalam release Cover Story.
Original Malayalam version of Snegithiye, which is Raakilipattu was later released in 2007.