Nargis Dutt Biography: Early Life, Love, Career, Marriage and Death

Nargis Dutt was born as Fatima Rashid in Allahabad on June 1, 1929. Nargis came from a family where “art was a way of life.” Her mother, Jaddanbai, was a well-known classical singer, and her father came from a wealthy Rawalpindi (Then British India) family. For a short time, the family lived in Calcutta before settling in Bombay.

Nargis Dutt Early Life [Parents and Grandmother]

Nargis’s mother, Jaddanbai, got married thrice in her life. Her first marriage was with a Gujrati Hindu Businessman named Narottam Das, who later converted to Islam after marriage(as claimed in some websites but has no documented proof). The couple had a son named Akhtar Hussain. Narrottam Das was regular at Jaddanbai’s mehfil in Banaras (as mentioned in The-True-Love-Story-Of-Nargis-Sunil-Dutt by  Kishwar Desai), but after some years, he disappeared due to his family pressure.

Then Jaddanbai got married to Musician Ustaad Irshad Meer Khan, and the couple had a son named Anwar Hussain, who later appeared in many Hindi movies as a character artist.

Nargis or Fatima Rashid is from Jaddanbai’s third marriage. Jaddanbai got married to Mohanchand Uttamchand, a Punjabi Hindu Brahmin from a wealthy family hailed from Rawalpindi. His parents were Lala Dalbirchand Mohan and Ramdevi Mohan.

Her father, Mohanchand, went to the UK to study Medicine and returned to India after completing his studies. For further studies, he moved to Calcutta, where he met Jaddanbai (though in some books, it has been claimed that he knew Jaddanbai from Lucknow). He was so impressed with her voice and beauty that he told his parents that he did not want to go back to the UK and want to settle down with Jaddanbai.

Considering Jaddanbai’s status, religion and marital status, his parents disagreed, but Mohanbabu (most people called him by that name) was stubborn. He married Jaddanbai, and as a result, Mohanbabu’s family broke all relation with him.

He converted himself to Islam after marriage and was named Abdul Rashid and interestingly Maulana Abul Kalam Azad carried out the conversion. Mohanbabu was 4 years younger than Jaddanbai and mother of two sons, marrying her was and discontinuing his further studies was a brave decision to take.

The interesting fact is that Nargis’s grandmother Dilipa was also a Brahmin who got married at a very young age. But at the age of 13, her husband died, and she left with a miserable life. But Dilipa left her in-laws home in Baliya and married a Sarangi player Sheikh Mianjan of Chilbilla village (As narrated in The True Love Story Of Nargis & Sunil Dutt by Kishwar Desai).

Nargis had a huge influence of her mother in her life, and that is why she faced the camera at the age of 4, and the movie was Talash-e-Haq. Her mother, Jaddanbai, was the writer and music director of the movie. Also, she appeared in the lead role.

Nargis was familiar with film culture from her childhood as big film personalities were regular at their bungalow, which was at marine drive, Mumbai (then Bombay).

Nargis did many movies as a child artist like Sher Dil Aurat(1935), Shadi Ki Raat (1935), Madam Fashion (1935), Hriday Manthan(1936), Moti Ka Haar (1937).

Nargis studied at Queen Mary’s Convent in Bombay and was among very few actresses who could speak fluent English in the 1950s. But she could not complete her studies as she entered into movies at a very early age, but she had a dream to become a doctor in childhood.

Her father Mohanbau died on 18th November 1948 and soon after her mother followed him as she also died on 21st July 1949. In matter of nine months Nargis was all alone as she was very close to her parents. Though Nargis had 16 more members excluding her living in the same house but she was not that close to anyone.

After her parents if anyone one was little closer to Nargis then it was her elder sister-in-law Iqbal.

Nargis Career

Nargis started her acting career at a tender age as a child artist in movies made by her mother Jaddanbai. In her initial movies as a child artist, she was credited with the name baby Rani.

But her first movie as a lead actress was the 1943 movie “Taqdeer“. She was only fourteen years then. She tasted measure success as a lead actress in the 1948 movie ‘Aag’ opposite Raj Kapoor.

Raj Kapoor and Nargis appeared in many movies after that, like Andaz, Barsat, Awara, Bewafa, Aah, Shree 420 etc. Jagte Raho was the last movie in which Nargis appeared with Raj Kapoor and concisely. Nargis can be seen in the movie’s last scene, where she gives water to Raj Kapoor to drink. After this movie, and the duo never worked together.

The interesting fact about the duo is Nargis never wore a high heel when she shared the screen with Raj Kapoor as Nargis was 5 feet 4 inches, and Raj Kapoor was only 5 feet 7 inches so that they don’t look awkward on-screen.

In his book ‘Khullam Khulla‘, Rishi Kapoor wrote that Nargis never stepped into RK studios after 1956 until Rishi’s marriage in 1980.

Nargi’s life-changing performance was in Mehboob Khan’s Mother India. She shared the screen with her future husband, Sunil Dutt, Raj Kumar and Rajendra Kumar. Nargis won the Filmfare and National award for the best actress.

Nargis was the first Indian actress to receive the Padma Shri Award in 1958.

Nargis and Sunil Dutt Marriage

Nargis was distraught during the Mother India shoot because of her relationship with Raj Kapoor. The duo had a relation, and Nargis even wanted to marry Raj Kapoor without disturbing his already married life. Nargis felt lonely after her mother passed away, and she got closer to Raj Kapoor. Though raj Kapoor was married then but it did not stop both of them to start a relation.

There was a time Nargis did not work outside RK studios and even asked other filmmakers who were interested in offering her a role to include Raj Kapoor in the movie.

She even met Moraji Desia, who was drafting the Hindu Marriage Act 1955 then. But the meeting was not fruitful as nothing came out of it. But with time, Nargis realized that her relationship with Raj Kapoor is going nowhere, and she should think of her own life.

Balraj Dutt, also known as Sunil Dutt in Bollywood, first rose to prominence as the popular voice of the radio station Radio Ceylon, where he worked before becoming an actor. Sunil Dutt or Balraj Dutt came to Bombay (It was called Bombay in 1950) with only 50 Rupees and no ambition of appearing in films. But destiny has planned something else for him. He joined Jai Hind College to complete his graduation.

Before joining Radio, Sunil Dutt also worked as clerk in BEST bus depot for Rupees 120 per month.

Sunil entered Bollywood in the mid-1950s when Ramesh Saigal spotted him at the sets of Shikast. He interviewed Dilip Kumar, and Saigal offered him a role in Railway Platform and suggested he change his name from Balraj Dutt to avoid name conflicts with veteran actor Balraj Sahni. Sunil rose to prominence two years after his debut, in 1957, with the release of Mother India, in which he co-starred with his future wife, Nargis.

When a fire broke out on the sets and Nargis became trapped within the ring of fire, it was Sunil Dutt who stormed in to save her without hesitation. Sunil suffered burns to his chest and face, while Nargis suffered burns to her arms. Nargis would have died if it hadn’t been for Sunil’s quick action. That was the start of Sunil and Nargis’s eternal love story, which was sealed on 11th March 1958 with a secret wedding at Arya Samaj. The marriage was kept secret as Mother India’s director Mehboob Khan thought it might harm his movie as the duo played mother and son in the movie.

The couple was of almost same age though as per records Nargis was only 5 days older than Sunil Dutt.

Nargis Dutt Death

Sunil Dutt and Nargis Dutt’s marriage took a tragic turn in 1980 when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after her health deteriorated due to jaundice. Nargis was taken to a cancer care specialty hospital in the United States, but despite the best care and treatment, she fell into an indefinite coma. Sunil refused to give up on Nargis after the doctors suggested turning off her ventilator. Nargis had been in a vegetative state for four months before regaining consciousness, being discharged from the hospital, and returning to Mumbai in 1981.

Unfortunately, Nargis died on May 3, 1981, just three days before Sanjay Dutt’s first film was released. She was buried with Muslim rituals near her mother’s cemetery in Chandanwadi, Mumbai.

Nargis and Sunil Dutt Children

The couple had three children named Sanjay Dutt, Priya Dutt and Namrata Dutt. Sanjay Dutt is into movies, whereas Priya Dutt is into politics. Namrata Dutt keeps away from limelight.

Nargis Dutt Award for Best Feature Film on National Integration

The award started in 1965 by the Ministry of Information and Broadcast, and the first recipient was Manoj Kumar starred Shaheed. The last recipient of the award was the Kannada movie Ondalla Eradalla in 2018.


What is the real name of Nargis Dutt?

Her original name was Fatima Rashid.

Why is Nargis famous?

She was considered as one of the finest and beautiful actress. She was the first Indian actress to receive Padma Shri award.

How old is Nargis Mother India?

Nargis was only 27 years old while shooting for Mother India.

Who is the mother of Sanjay Dutt?

Nargis or Nargis Dutt after marriage is mother of Sanjay Dutt.

Who is father of Nargis?

Nargis’s mother, Jaddanbai, got married to a Hindu Brahmin named Mohanchand Uttamchand, and after marriage, he converted to Islam and renamed himself, Abdul Rashid.

At what age Nargis died?

Nargis Dutt was about to complete 52 years when she died on May 3,1981.

What cancer did Nargis?

She had pancreatic cancer.

Is Nargis a Hindu?

She had Hindu roots as his father was a born Hindu Brahmin. Also after marriage with Sunil Dutt, she converted to Hinduism.

The book about Nargis Dutt and Sunil Dutt?

Darlingji: The True Love Story Of Nargis and Sunil Dutt by Kishwar Desai.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *