was the daughter of actress, singer and filmmaker Jaddanbai
who introduced her to films at the tender age of 5. Her first
film in the female lead was in Mehboob Khan's Taqdeer (1943)
opposite Motilal. Though she went quite un-noticed but her lucky
break was the with the same filmmaker's Humayun (1945) as Hamida
Bano. Her performance was appreciated and she went on to bag
roles in the films Andaaz (1949) and Barsaat (1949) which were
major box office hits. Andaaz remains one of the best triangles
in Hindi Cinema with Nargis as the modern woman caught between
Dilip Kumar and Raj Kapoor.
rose to stardom and with every film she became a mature actress.
She met Raj Kapoor while filming for Andaaz and both of them
fell head over heels in love. Raj Kapoor was married but that
didn’t seem to be a problem for the couple. They were
the talk of the town. They were always together. After Awaara
(1951) she worked almost exclusively with Raj Kapoor even turning
down her mentor Mehboob Khan's Aan (1952).
The passion that Raj Kapoor and Nargis poured out on the screen
as they romanced each other in several films was magical and
unseen on the Indian Cinema.
was also called Raj Kapoor’s lady in white since she used
to wear only white knowing about Kapoor’s obsession for
white. However the relationship didn’t last too long.
Kapoor being a married man and unable to divorce his wife, it
was Nargis who finally walked away. Chori Chori (1956), a romantic
movie based on Frank Capra's It Happened One Night (1934), was
their last film together. She did do a special appearance in
his production Jagte Raho (1956) for old time’s sake.
Raj Kapoor out of her life, Mehboob Khan offered her his magnum
opus Mother India (1957). The film won her the best actress
award. She gave a powerful performance and the movie showed
the Indian cinema how intense and emotive actress she was. Mother
India was the ultimate tribute to Indian Womanhood! Mother India
was also nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film but it
lost to Fellini's Nights of Caberia by a solitary vote.
shooting for the film, Nargis was trapped amidst lit haystacks
and Sunil Dutt who played her rebellious son, Birju, in the
film ran through the fire and rescued her. He proposed to her
and Nargis married Sunil Dutt and quit films after marriage.
She did lend her voice and we do see her silhouette in Sunil
Dutt's Yaadein (1964). Her last film was Raat Aur Din (1967)
in which she played a woman with a split personality which won
her the National Award.
was the first film personality to be awarded the Padmashree
and later her charitable work for spastics saw her nominated
to the Rajya Sabha. She died of cancer in 1981.