Early life and background

Nargis was born as Fatima Rashid in Calcutta, Bengal Presidency, British Indian Empire (now Kolkata, West Bengal, India). Her father Abdul Rashid, formerly Mohanchand Uttamchand (“Mohan Babu”), was originally a wealthy Mohyal Brahmin Hindu heir from Rawalpindi, Punjab Province who had converted to Islam.Her mother was Jaddanbai, a Hindustani classical music singer and one of the early pioneers of Indian cinema.Nargis’ 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.



Portrait of Nargis from Jan Pahechan

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 Persianword meaning Narcissus, the daffodil flower. She was subsequently credited as Nargis in all of her films.

Nargis appeared in numerous films after her debut. In 1943 at the age of 14, she appeared in Mehboob Khan’s Taqdeer, opposite Motilal. She starred in many Hindi films of the late 1940s and 1950s such as Barsaat (1949), Andaz (1949), Jogan (1950), Awaara (1951), Deedar (1951), Anhonee (1952), 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.[better source needed]

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 Awardnomination for this film.[citation needed]

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.” 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.”

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

Personal life


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

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 nine year-long relationship.

Nargis married actor Sunil Dutt (a Mohyal from Jhelum, British India) on 11 March 1958. Reportedly, Dutt had saved her life from a fire on the sets of Mother India.They married on 11 March 1958.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 Kumarwho had appeared alongside Nargis and Sunil Dutt in Mother India. Priya became a politician and a Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha).

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. 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.


Nargis was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 1980 and underwent treatment for the disease at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Upon her return to India, her condition deteriorated and she was admitted at Breach Candy Hospital in Bombay. Nargis went into coma on 2 May 1981 after she became seriously ill and died the next day. On 7 May 1981, at the premiere of her son’s debut film Rocky, one seat was kept vacant for her.

Nargis was buried at Badakabarastan in Marine Lines, Mumbai.A street in Bandra, Mumbai, was renamed Nargis Dutt Road in her memory.

One year after her death, The Nargis Dutt Memorial Cancer Foundation (Barshi Maharashtra) was established by Sunil Dutt in her memory. Though Nargis’ death was widely attributed to cancer, her daughter Namrata shared that she had successfully fought the pancreatic cancer but died from a urinary tract infection. Her son Sanjay added that her lowered immunity levels made her susceptible to the infection.

In popular culture


Nargis on a 1993 stamp of India

Nargis was played by actress Manisha Koirala in the film Sanju, the biopic of her son, Sanjay Dutt. The film is ranked as one of the highest grossing Indian film of 2018.Feryna Wazheir played her character in the film Manto (2018 film).

Awards and recognitions

  • 1958 – Filmfare Best Actress Award for Mother India
  • 1958 – She was the first film actress to conferred by the Government of India with the Padma Shri title, the fourth highest civilian award.
  • 1958 – Best Actress Awardat the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival for Mother India
  • 1968 – National Film Award for Best Actress for Raat Aur Din.
  • 1969 – Nominated, Filmfare Best Actress Award for Raat Aur Din[citation needed]
  • 2001 – “Best Artists of the Millennium” award by Hero Honda and film magazine Stardust along with actor Amitabh Bachchan.

A postal stamp of face value 100 paise was issued by India Post was issued in Nargis’ honour on 30 December 1993.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.



Portrait of Nargis from Pyaar

  • Talashe Haq (1935)
  • Madam Fashion (1936)
  • Taqdeer (1943)
  • Humayun (1945)
  • Bisvi Sadi (1945)
  • Ramayani (1945)
  • Nargis (1946)
  • Mehandi (1947)
  • Mela (1948)
  • Anokha Pyar (1948)
  • Anjuman (1948)
  • Aag (1948)
  • Roomal (1949)
  • Lahore (1949)
  • Darogaji (1949)
  • Barsaat (1949)
  • Andaz (1949)
  • Pyaar (1950)
  • Meena Bazaar (1950)
  • Khel (1950)
  • Jogan (1950)
  • Jan Pahechan (1950)
  • Chhoti Bhabhi (1950)
  • Babul (1950)
  • Aadhi Raat (1950)
  • Saagar (1951)
  • Pyar Ki Baaten (1951)
  • Hulchul (1951)
  • Deedar (1951)
  • Awaara (1951)
  • Sheesha (1952)
  • Bewafaa (1952)
  • Ashiana (1952)
  • Anhonee (1952)
  • Amber (1952)
  • Shikast (1953)
  • Paapi (1953)
  • Dhoon (1953)
  • Aah (1953)
  • Angarey (1954)
  • Shree 420 (1955)
  • Jagte Raho (1956)
  • Chori Chori (1956)
  • Pardesi
  • Mother India (1957)
  • Lajwanti (1958)
  • Ghar Sansar (1958)
  • Adalat (1958)
  • Yaadein (1964)
  • Raat Aur Din (1967)
  • Tosa oneira stous dromous (1968)