Published On: Wed, May 4th, 2016

The Kooza pays tribute to Nargis Dutt on her 35th death anniversary today.



Remembering Nargis, one of the greatest actresses in Indian cinema, on her 35th death anniversary today.

sanjay-nargisGraceful, alluring and one of Indian cinema’s finest actresses, Nargis was lauded for giving life to different facets of an Indian women on celluloid. She was truly the queen of Indian cinema.

Her talent in acting was so great that the various human emotions came alive on the silver screen. Her contribution to Indian cinema is exceptional. Her character in all the films touched human heart and left a lasting impression on the viewers. She put her heart and soul to her profession and made it most perfect. Her role in the film ‘Mother India’ was a mile stone in her acting career.

nargis-duttBorn Fatima Rashid in 1929, she got her first film break only five years later, when Mehboob Khan cast her in a child’s role in Talaash-e-Haq. At 14, she played her first leading role, as heroine of Mehboob’s Taqdeer. Nargis, as she was now called, rapidly shot to the top with her next few films, including Romeo and Juliet, Daroga, Kismat, Lahore and Humayun, another Mehboob production. The prolific actress starred opposite leading male stars of the day, including Dilip Kumar (Jogan, Babul, Hulchul, among others), Ashok Kumar, Motilal and Raj Kapoor.

She ruled the silver screen in the 1950’s with her pivotal roles in ‘Barsaat’, ‘Andaz’, ‘Awaara’, ‘Deedar’, ‘Shree 420′ and ‘Chori Chori’.

Her iconic role in Mehboob Khan’s Oscar-nominated rural drama ‘Mother India’ won her the Filmfare Best Actress Award.

sunil_Nargis duttNargis made her last screen appearance in the 1967 film Raat Aur Din. The film was well received and Nargis’ performance as a woman, who suffers from multiple-personality disorder, was critically acclaimed. For this role she won a National Film Award for Best Actress, the first actress to win in this category.

After her marriage to Sunil Dutt in 1958, Nargis gave up her filmy career.


Nargis was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 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 to Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai. She went into a coma on 2 May 1981 and died the next day.

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

(L to R) Mukesh, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Talat Mahmood, S.D.Burman, Lata Mangeshkar, Nargis, Madan Mohan, Mohammed Rafi and Mannaday

(L to R) Mukesh, Majrooh Sultanpuri, Talat Mahmood, S.D.Burman, Lata Mangeshkar, Nargis, Madan Mohan, Mohammed Rafi and Mannaday

Lata Mangeshkar on Nargis:

Nargis will always be remembered as a talented, beautiful and a popular actress on the silver screen but also a homely woman with a pleasant personality who took up lot of social work during her lifetime.

I still remember our first meet. I had finished recording for the film Mahal. Nargis and her mother, the famous singer Jaddanbai, were sitting outside the studio.

Jaddanbai praised my rendition of the song that was just recorded and asked me my name.

I replied: “Lata Mangeshkar.”

She said: “You are the daughter of Master Dinanath.”

She used to know my father, Master Dinanath who was a famous actor and singer of the Marathi Theatre. Jaddanbai was particularly impressed with my pronunciation of Urdu words. Nargis was ready with her makeup for the shooting of the movie Lahore for which I had given playback.

In the year 1949, films like Andaaz and Barsaat were released. My songs in those films as well as Nargis’s performance were highly appreciated and immensely popular. Since the film Awara, Nargis used to attend my recordings. We started conversing and established a close bond.

I still remember the recording of the song “Ghar aaya mera pardesi”. The recording started at 9:30 in the morning and finished at 3:50 AM next day! Raj Kapoor and Shankar-Jaikishan took every effort to make this perfect. Once the recording was over, all of us were tired. Nargis had prepared sandwiches for all of us. It was a nice gesture from one of the leading actresses of those days.

Nargis got married with Sunil Dutt in the year 1958. She took a break from films and got busy as a housewife. She was involved in social work. She worked for Sunil Dutt’s production house, Ajanta Arts. I have given playback for her film Raat aur Din which was completed by Nargis after hard work and diligence. This film was completed after her marriage.

Nargis’s journey from an actress who dazzled the silver screen to a content housewife was witnessed by me. Her untimely death has left a lasting imprint on me.


India was only in its fourth year of Independence when Raj Kapoor decided to offer his fans ‘Awara’. It may not qualify as an epic but it was a landmark movie for its story and the treatment of the subject.

Music is what you remember most from ‘Awara’ and of course, the beautiful Nargis. She carries the movie on her shoulders even though Raj Kapoor is the central character.

About the Author

Syed Ammar Alavi

- is Lahore (Pakistan) based journalist & writer with 25-year experience in print, wire and broadcast forms of journalism. His major fields of interest are politics, film,tv,sports, climate change and technology