Nargis born as Fatima Rashid on 1 June 1929 is regarded as one of the greatest actresses in the history of Indian cinema. She was the first Film artiste to be honored by the Govt. of India with the Padma Shree Award. She is also the first film actress to receive the Govt. of India National Award for Best Actress. The Govt. of India National Award for the Best Feature Film on National Integration is called the Nargis Dutt Award in her honour. She was nominated as member of the Indian upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha in 1980 but died during her tenure. A street in Bandra, Mumbai was renamed Nargis Dutt Road in her memory after her death.
Fatima entered films in 1935 when she was 6 years old. As an adult she set the screen ablaze as Nargis. She got her first leading role at the age of 14 and starred in popular Hindi films of the late 1940s and 1950s like Barsaat (1949), Andaz (1949), Awaara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), and Chori Chori (1956). In most films she acted with Raj Kapoor and they were the popular Hindi on-screen couple. Raj Kapoor (a married man) and Nargis are also known to have had a longtime romantic affair during the 1950s. One of Nargis’ most popular roles was in the Oscar nominated ‘Mother India’ (1957). After marriage in 1958, Nargis’ appearances on screen became very rare. Her last appearance was in the 1967 film ‘Raat Aur Din’, for which she became the first actress to be awarded the National Award for Best Actress.
In 1958, at the age of 29 Nargis an established film star married actor Sunil Dutt a newcomer and who played her son in Mother India. Dutt had saved her life from a fire accident on the sets of Mother India. It was while recuperating from the injuries that the two fell in love. Sunil & Nargis have three children: Sanjay, Namrata, and Priya. Sanjay Dutt is a popular Bollywood Star. Namrata married actor Kumar Gaurav, son of actor Rajendra Kumar who acted as Nargis’ eldest son in Mother India. Priya became a politician, and since 2005 is a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha).
Nargis was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and underwent treatment in New York. Upon her return to India, her condition deteriorated, and she died on 3 May 1981 at the age of 52. Nargis was conspicuous by her absence at the premiere of Rocky, her son Sanjay’s debut, on May 7, just four days after her demise. A seat was kept vacant besides Sunil as a tribute to her. In 1982, the Nargis Dutt Memorial Cancer Foundation was established in her memory.
A Tribute to Nargis: One of the greatest actresses in the history of Indian cinema. Nargis was the first Film artiste to be honored by the Govt. of India with the Padma Shree Award. She is also the first film actress to receive the Govt. of India National Award for Best Actress. She married actor Sunil Dutt who played her son in Mother India. Her son Sanjay Dutt is a popular Bollywood Star. Nargis died on 3 May 1981 at the age of 52 due to cancer. She was a Rajya Sabha MP at the time of her death.
Watch Raj Kapoor & Nargis in “Shri 420” – the rain scene singing Pyar hua under an umbrella.