NARGIS Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Nargis was a major Indian star during the ’40s and ’50s recognized for her  charisma, tremendous dignity, great intelligence, and ability to play a  variety of roles ranging from shy coquettes to westernized women.  Nargis was born on June 1, 1929 as Fatima Rashid, the daughter of the  Allahabad-based singer, Jaddanbai and Uttamchand Mohanchand. Nargis,  her stage name, means “Narcissus", the flower. She was always credited  as Nargis in all of her films.


Nargis started her career as a child artist in “Talashe Haq", she quickly progressed to playing lead roles and became the top actresses of her era. She made her debut as an actress in “Tamanna” released in 1942. She appeared in a number of movies after that the most popular being Humayun (1945), Nargis (1946), Mela (1948), Aag (1948), Barsaat (1949), Jogan (1950).


Nargis paired well with Raj Kapoor and together they developed both  a personal and professional partnership and gave Hindi cinema some of  its best classics. Their first was Aag release in 1948. Their first  blockbuster an onscreen couple was the unforgettable “Barsaat” released  in 1949. The famous hit song Pyaar Hua Iqrar Hua is still considered as  one of the finest romantic songs ever. Barsaat was followed by another  hit “Aawara” in 1951 and “Shree 420″  in 1955. Both films still maintain top positions amongst Bollywood’s  finest classics. A portion of their success could be attributed to  their fame as real life couple. Their romantic entanglement provided  fans with hours of gossipy entertainment as Kapoor was a married man.


Nargis’s best performance came with perhaps Indian cinema’s greatest  work Mehboob Khan’s “Mother India". The film was critically acclaimed  and a box office wonder and it topped all charts. The film grossed over  Rs. 40 million the highest for any Indian film at that time. The film  is still respected by the audience and critics of all ages and  generations. It was the first Indian film to be nominated for Oscars in  the Best Foreign Language Film category. Nargis played the role of a  mother who killed her rebellious son for the goodwill of the whole  village thus becoming the ‘mother’ of the entire village. She also won  the Filmfare Best Actress Award for that role.


One year later Nargis married her co-star of Mother India Sunil Dutt.  The marriage seemed scandalous to many at the time, because Sunil had  played her son in the movie.


After the marriage, Nargis retired from films to raise her children  and to volunteer for charitable work, but she still remained active in  the film industry using her friendship with Indira Gandhi to help lobby  for better conditions for filmmakers. In 1980 she became a member of  the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of Parliament).


Pancreatic cancer claimed Nargis on May 3, 1981, ironically the same year her son Sanjay Dutt made his Bollywood debut with Rocky. Nargis and her movies,  (approximately 50) which spanned from 1935 through on to 1967, continue  to be popular even now.