BollyCurry is back once again with the latest edition of Fragrance of Yesteryears,
Dutt. Born as Fatima Rashid, she is one of the greatest in the
Hindi cinema - a legend back in 1940s - a time when the cinema was still
at its ongoing rising peak.
The talented actress was born on June 1, 1929
to Uttamchand Mohanchand fondly known as Mohan Babu, a Punjabi Brahmin,
and Jaddanbai, a Muslim immigrant. Before entering the world of cinema,
she was a classical music singer and courtesan in Allahabad, as she
lived during the time of the British Raj.
As a child, at tender age of merely six, she was first seen in the movie Talashe Haq
starring alongside her mother Jaddanbai. She received the title 'Baby
' then and has since been lovingly called Nargis
, the Persian word
for a daffodil. While little is known about her life in between, she
returned to the world of Cinema at the age of 14, appearing in various
movies, starting with Tamanna
(1942) and then Mehboob Khan
's production, Taqdeer
Her legendary career began in the 1940s and spanned
till late 1960s. Dutt appeared in numerous commercially successful as
well as critically appreciated films, where the screen-space was mostly
shared with actors Raj Kapoor
and Dilip Kumar
. Her charisma, grace and
the characters she portrayed lead her to star in numerous acclaimed
films, including Barsaat
in 1949, Awaraa
in 1951, Shree 420
and Chori Chori
in 1955 and 1956 respectively, where she shared the space with Kapoor in Awaraa
and Shree 420
Dutt's biggest success came about in 1957, Mehboob Khan
's rural drama Mother India
also bagging her the Filmfare Best Actress award, an Oscar
nomination and a love to last a lifetime. While it took her a step
upwards in the history of Indian Cinema, it also brought her a step
closer to her career's end. In Mother India
the character of Radha, considered the "mother" of the village whereby
the film goes in flash-back to the time when she was married and lived
her life in poverty, ending with her having to kill her own son, Birju
In 1958, Nargis
married Dutt, an actor, producer,
director and a politician. As reports claim, Sunil saved Nargis
fire on the sets of Mother India
, probably leading to the
somewhat cliche scenario of the damsel falling in love with her savior.
Following the event, Nargis
took the decision to end her film career and
settle down and give her entire time and sole attention to her family.
She made her last appearance in the 1967 movie, Raat Aur Din
winning the National Film Award for Best Actress and thus becoming the
first actress ever to win in the category. She also won the Filmfare
Best Actress Award for the same.
has also shared in Humayun
(1848), Anokha Pyar
(1964), and many more over the 20 years span of her active career.
Her success in the film world is not the only high points of her life. Nargis
formed the Ajanta Arts Cultural Troupe
with her husband. Here, they would gather leading actors and singers of
the time to hold stage shows across the war areas to entertain the
Indian soldiers. After the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971 and newly formed
Bangladesh, this was the first troupe to perform at Dhaka. She also
supported the Spastics Society of India, starting in the 1970s, working
to improve conditions for children ailed by the muscular disease. All
her work did not go unnoticed, gaining her recognition as a social
worker and a nomination in the Upper House within a decade.
Coming to her personal life, she had three children:
- an actor, producer, comedian, politician and TV presenter;
- Politician (Indian National Congress), and Namrata Dutt.
During the last months of her life, her son Sanjay worked in his first
film debut, Rocky
. The film went in theaters just four days
after she breathed her last due to pancreatic cancer. Upon diagnosis of
the cancer, she travelled to New York for treatment at Memorial Sloan -
Kettering Cancer Center. Upon her return to India,
her condition worsened and she slipped into coma on May 2, passing away
on May 3, 1981 at Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai.
During the complex moments for the Dutts' was the premier of Rocky
May 7, 1981. At the location, a seat remained vacant in honor of Nargis
Dutt, despite the known absence - a loving son's action becoming a
nationally famous event. Shortly after in 1982, the Nargis Dutt Memorial Cancer Foundation
establish in her honor and memory. Dutt remains buried in Mumbai, the
road renamed as Nargus Dutt Road in her memory, originally known as
Badakabarastan in Marine Lines.
Here's a tribute from BollyCurry to the
ever-charismatic actress who set the stone in motion for many other
actresses to follow. "An actress with range, style, grace and an incredibly warm screen presence, Nargis is truly a leading lady to celebrate."
- Her first three films all began with 'T's.
- Like her mother who married a Mohylal, she did too.
- She was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha (upper house of Indian Parliament) (1980-81).
- Sunil and Nargis' first movie together had them playing the roles of mother and son.
- The Nargis Dutt award for nationally integrated best feature film is in her honor.
- Books have been written on the love story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt by her children.
- Mehboob Khan had the good fortune of starting both Nargis and Sunil's film careers.
- As speculating rumors may have it, she was known to have a romantic connection with Raj Kapoor during the 1950s.
Writer: Khushi P.
Editor(s): Gunia M.
Graphics: Saraa K.
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