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Nargis - Hindi Movie Actress (7).jpg
Born Fatima Rashid
(1929-06-01)1 June 1929
Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British India
(now Kolkata, West Bengal, India)
Died 3 May 1981(1981-05-03) (aged 51)
Bombay, Maharashtra, India
Cause of death Pancreatic cancer
Burial place Badakabarastan, Marine Lines, Bombay
Nationality Indian
Other names Baby Nargis (as a child artist)
Occupation Actress
Years active 1935, 1942–1968
Era Pre-Golden era and Golden era of Bollywood music and films
Known for Bollywood songs and films
Notable work
Spouse(s) Sunil Dutt (m.1959–1981 till death)
Children Sanjay Dutt
Priya Dutt
Namrata Dutt
Relatives See Dutt family
Honours Padma Shri (1958)

Nargis Dutt[1] (born Fatima Rashid; 1 June 1929 – 3 May 1981)[2] was an Indian film actress, who starred in classic films of Bollywood. Highly regarded as the greatest actresses in the history of Hindi cinema, she made her screen debut in a minor role at the age of 5 with Talash-E-Haq (1935), but her acting career began with Tamanna (1942).

In a career that spanned three decades, Nargis appeared in numerous commercially successful as well as critically acclaimed films, many of which featured her alongside actor Raj Kapoor. She was the younger sister of the well-known actor Anwar Hussain. Her best-known role was that of Radha in the Academy Award-nominated Mother India (1957), a performance that won her the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. She would appear infrequently in films during the 1960s. Some of her films of this period include the drama Raat Aur Din (1967), for which she received the inaugural National Film Award for Best Actress.

Nargis had a longtime romantic relationship with actor Raj Kapoor but didn't marry him as he was already married at that time and had children. Instead Nargis married her Mother India co-star Sunil Dutt in 1958 who, reportedly, saved her life from a fire on the sets of Mother India. Together they had three children, including the actor Sanjay Dutt. long with her husband, Nargis formed the Ajanta Arts Culture Troupe which roped in several leading actors and singers of the time and held stage shows at border areas. In early 1970s, Nargis became the first patron of The Spastic Society of India and her subsequent work with the organisation brought her recognition as a social worker and later a Rajya Sabha nomination in 1980.

Their marriage ended on 3 May 1981, when Nargis died from a pancreatic cancer at the age of 51, only three days before her son Sanjay Dutt made his debut in Hindi films with the film Rocky. In 1982, the Nargis Dutt Memorial Cancer Foundation was established in her memory. The award for Best Feature Film on National Integration in the Annual Film Awards ceremony is called the Nargis Dutt Award in her honor.

Early life and background[edit]

Nargis was born as Fatima Rashid in Calcutta, Bengal (now Kolkata, West Bengal). Her father Abdul Rashid (born Mohanchand Uttamchand Tyagi alias Mohan Babu), was originally a wealthy Mohyal Brahmin (a Punjabi Hindu), from Rawalpindi, Punjab (now in Pakistan) who had converted to Islam.[1][3][4][5] Her mother was Jaddanbai, a Hindustani classical music singer and one of the early pioneers of Indian cinema.[6] Nargis's family then moved to Allahabad from West Punjab. She introduced Nargis into the movie culture unfolding in India at the time. Nargis' maternal half-brother, Anwar Hussain (1928–1988), also became a film actor.


Nargis, Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar in a scene from the film Andaz (1949)

Fatima made her first film appearance in the 1935 film Talashe Haq when she was six years old, credited as Baby Nargis. Nargis (نرگس [ˈnərɡɪs]) is a Persian word meaning Narcissus, the daffodil flower. She was subsequently credited as Nargis in all of her films.

Nargis appeared in numerous films after her debut; she won lasting fame for her later, adult, roles, starting with at the age of 14, in Mehboob Khan's Taqdeer in 1943 opposite, Motilal.[7] She starred in many popular Hindi films of the late 1940s and 1950s such as Barsaat (1949), Andaz (1949), Awaara (1951), Deedar (1951), Shree 420 (1955), and Chori Chori (1956). She appeared in Mehboob Khan's Oscar-nominated epic drama Mother India in 1957 for which she won the Filmfare Best Actress Award for her performance. Baburao Patel of the film magazine Filmindia (December 1957) described Mother India as "the greatest picture produced in India" and wrote that no other actress would have been able to perform the role as well as Nargis.[8]

After her marriage to Sunil Dutt in 1958, Nargis gave up her film career to settle down with her family, after her last few films were released. She made her last film appearance in the 1967 film Raat Aur Din. The film was well received and Nargis' performance as a woman who has dissociative identity disorder was critically acclaimed. For this role she won a National Film Award for Best Actress and became the first actress to win in this category. She also received a Filmfare Best Actress Award nomination for this film.

In 2011, listed her as the greatest actress of all time, stating, "An actress with range, style, grace and an incredibly warm screen presence, Nargis is truly a leading lady to celebrate."[9] M.L. Dhawan from The Tribune said, "In almost all her films Nargis created a woman who could be desired and deified. The charisma of Nargis's screen image lay in that it oscillated between the simple and the chic with equal ease."[10]

She was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha (Upper house of Indian Parliament) from 1980–81[2][11] but due to cancer she fell ill and died during her tenure.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Nargis had a long-time relationship with actor Raj Kapoor, who was her co-star in the films Awara and Shree 420. Raj Kapoor was married and had children. After he refused to divorce his wife, Nargis ended their year-long relationship.[13][14][15]

Nargis married actor Sunil Dutt (a Mohyal from Jhelum, British India) on 11 March 1958 after converting to Hinduism and changing her legal name to "Nirmala Dutt" after the marriage. Reportedly, Dutt had saved her life from a fire on the sets of Mother India.[16] They married on 11 March 1958.[17] Three children were born from their union: Sanjay, Namrata, and Priya.

Sanjay went on to become a successful film actor. Namrata married actor Kumar Gaurav, son of veteran actor Rajendra Kumar who had appeared alongside Nargis and Sunil Dutt in Mother India. Priya became a politician and a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha).[16]

With her husband, Nargis formed the Ajanta Arts Cultural Troupe, which involved several leading actors and singers of the time, and performed at remote frontiers to entertain the Indian soldiers at border. It was the first troupe to perform in Dhaka, after the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971.[18] Later, Nargis worked for the cause of spastic children. She became the first patron of The Spastics Society of India. Her charitable work for the organisation got her recognition as a social worker.[18]


Nargis was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1980 and went to New York for the treatment. She returned to India, but again became ill with the cancer. On 2 May 1981, Nargis went to coma and died on 3 May 1981 in Breach Candy Hospital in Bombay, only three days before her son's debut film Rocky was released. One seat was kept in vacant of her. Nargis was buried at Badakabarastan in Marine Lines, Mumbai.[16] After one year of her death, The Nargis Dutt Memorial Cancer Foundation was established by Sunil Dutt in her memory.


Nargis is being played by actress Manisha Koirala in the film Sanju, the biopic of her son, Sanjay Dutt. The film is ranked as the highest grossing Indian film of 2018 after Padmaavat.[19][20]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

A postal stamp of face value 100 paise was issued by India Post was issued in Nargis' honour on 30 December 1993.[23] Google celebrated Nargis Dutt on her 86th birthday on 1 June 2015.

The National Film Awards honoured Dutt by instituting the Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration upon her achievement in Hindi Cinema.[24]


Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Bollywood actor Nargis Dutt remembered in today's Google Doodle". The Indian Express. 1 June 2015. 
  2. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 1 May 2009. Retrieved 19 May 2009. 
  3. ^ T. J. S. George (December 1994). The life and times of Nargis. Megatechnics. ISBN 978-81-7223-149-1. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  4. ^ Parama Roy (6 September 1998). Indian traffic: identities in question in colonial and postcolonial India. University of California Press. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-520-20487-4. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  5. ^ Shyam Bhatia (20 October 2003). "Nargis-Sunil Dutt: A real life romance". Rediff. Retrieved 3 June 2012. 
  6. ^ "India's Independent Weekly News Magazine". Tehelka. Retrieved 12 July 2012. [permanent dead link]
  7. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 10 February 2007. Retrieved 17 January 2007. 
  8. ^ Mishra 2002, p. 65.
  9. ^ Sen, Raja (29 June 2011). "Readers Choice: The Greatest Actresses of all time". Retrieved 19 September 2011. 
  10. ^ Dhawan, M.L. (9 December 2007). "Queens of hearts". The Tribune. Retrieved 22 September 2011. 
  11. ^ "Maharashtra govt in peril, governance takes backseat". Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  12. ^ "Nargis: A daughter remembers". Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  13. ^ "Clangorous Liaisons – Bhaichand Patel – Nov 19,2007". Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  14. ^ "Rishi Kapoor Reveals Dad Raj Kapoor's Alleged Affairs With His Heroines - NDTV Movies". 17 January 2017. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  15. ^ "Feryna Wazheir to play Nargis in 'Manto'". Times of India. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  16. ^ a b c Dhawan, M. (27 April 2003). "A paean to Mother India". The Tribune. Retrieved 7 September 2008. 
  17. ^ "Other side of Love Jihad", Siasat, 20 October 2016.
  18. ^ a b "The Tribune - Magazine section - Windows". Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Filmfare Awards Winners From 1953 to 2018". Filmfare Awards. Retrieved 2018-05-30. 
  22. ^ "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India – Nation". Retrieved 2 June 2015. 
  23. ^ "Nargis Dutt". Indian Philately. Thakkar Numismatic & Art Foundation. Retrieved 30 May 2018. 
  24. ^ "An award in a different genre". 7 January 2005. p. 2. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 
  25. ^ "Archive News - The Hindu". The Hindu. Retrieved 30 July 2017. 

External links[edit]