On Nargis’s 39th death anniversary, here are some lesser-known facts about the legendary actor

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By
May 03, 2020 10:18 AM IST

Actor Nargis is easily one of the most-iconic Indian actors to have appeared on the Indian silver screen. On her 39th death anniversary, here are some lesser known facts about her life.

Actor Nargis is easily one of the most talented actors the Indian screen has seen. First, as the muse of actor and filmmaker Raj Kapoor in several hit films and later for her iconic role in Mother India, Nargis has sealed her place in the annals of Indian history and the hearts and minds of millions of Indians.

Nargis with her family, husband Sunil Dutt, son Sanjay Dutt and daughters Priya and Namrata.
Nargis with her family, husband Sunil Dutt, son Sanjay Dutt and daughters Priya and Namrata.

On her death anniversary on Sunday, here’s a look at some lesser known facts about the actor.

Nargis died of pancreatic cancer

With the memories of Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor’s deaths still fresh in the minds of all, it should be known that on May 3, 1981 when Nargis passed away, she had been battling pancreatic cancer.

Her family had flown her to USA’s Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Post her treatment there, she returned to India but her condition had deteriorated. She was admitted at Mumbai’s Breach Candy hospital. She went into come on May 2, 1981 and died the next day.


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|...Mrs Dutt and Mrs Dutt...❤️

A post shared by Nargis Dutt (@dutttnargis) on

While it is well documented that her son Sanjay Dutt’s drug addiction took a turn for the worse around that time, what is not known that Sunil Dutt too suffered from depression for days after her death. She was only 51.

Nargis was born Fatima Rashid

Nargis was born to a Hindu father Mohanchand Uttamchand, a Punjabi Mohiyal brahmin, who later became Adbul Rashid, and well-known singer of Allahabad and later cinema personality, Jaddan Bai.

She made her first film appearance in 1935, aged only 5, in a film called Talash-e-Haq. She made her debut as an adult in 1943 film Taqdeer, aged 14, opposite Motilal. She would later go on to work with Raj Kapoor in a number of celebrated films.


How she ended up marrying Sunil Dutt

Nargis was in a long-time relationship with Raj Kapoor, who was married with children. She reportedly asked him to divorce his wife which he refused. She then ended their nine-year-old relationship.

It is said that an accident on the sets of Mother India and Sunil’s valiant act of saving her was the reason that triggered their relationship. They married on March 11, 1958.

Nargis quit films, not public life

Post her marriage to Sunil, Nargis quit films for good and settled into happy matrimony. Sunil and she have three children - Sanjay, Namrata and Priya.


What many would not know was that Nargis was actively involved with The Spastics Society of India. She also formed and managed 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.

Nargis was fond of white saris, telephone conversations

In an article in Times of India, Nargis’s elder daughter Namrata mentioned how her mother was fond of wearing white saris. “She wore only cotton and organza with little embroidery. She never wore jewellery, maybe just small studs or pearls and two gold bangles. Later, she began wearing a rudraksh mala. She’d chant on the same mala,” Namrata was quoted as saying.

The article mentions how she was very fond of telephone conversations and would do so, even when she had to get a massage. Namrata has said, “When she’d lie on the mat for her massage, the phone would be brought next to her. Dad would say, ‘How can she relax when she continues talking?’”

In her heydays too, Nargis hardly cared about her star status and would happily have pani pooris (an Indian street food) from roadside vendors. She was also an ace swimmer and loved playing cricket with her brothers.

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