The first comedienne of Hindi cinema was born Umadevi Khatri in Uttar Pradesh on 11 July 1923. Fond of singing since a young age, she ran away from home at 13 to try her luck at playback singing in Bombay.
Uma Devi began singing solo songs with Nazir's Wamiq Azra (1946) with music composed by AR Qureshi. However, she got her first big break through music composer Naushad, who was impressed by her determination to sing for him and gave her the song 'Dilwale Tu Preet Na Kar Pachhtana' in the film Natak (1947).
Uma Devi signed on for a contract with Kardar Films for around Rs400 a month where she mostly worked with Naushad. The biggest hit of her singing career was 'Afsana Likh Rahi Hoon' from the film Dard (1947) starring Munawar Sultana and Suraiya.
She took up the assignment to sing for SS Vasan's epic Chandralekha (1948), the most expensive film made in India till then, a bilingual Tamil and Hindi production. It was one of the last films she would sing for. AR Kardar, the producer, perceived this as a breach of contract and Naushad started using another upcoming singer called Lata Mangeshkar for his compositions.
Umadevi started acting with the 1950 film, Babul, co-starring Nargis, Dilip Kumar and Munawar Sultana. It was Kumar who christened her Tun Tun (her character's name in the movie). The name stuck throughout her acting career.