Jennifer via I know, right? is here this month to give us a glimpse in to the life of Nargis who is regarded as the greatest actress of Hindi Cinema. She also was the first Indian Actress to be honored with the Padma Shri award (which is the fourth highest civilian award in India). Read on to know more about her ...
Nargis was a child star who became a Bollywood icon.
By the time she was in her late 20s, the breathtakingly gorgeous actress had appeared in numerous critically-acclaimed box-office hits. Her glowing face was plastered all over movie posters and glossy advertisements around the country. Awards were thrown at her feet. She was hailed as the greatest Indian actress of all time.
Millions of fans around the world devoured the tantalizing gossip that the glamorous movie star was having a steamy affair with her very married acting partner, Raj Kapoor.
And they were right: behind the scenes, a fairytale romance was being born.
But, it was a different one.
In 1957, Nargis was on the set of Mother India, unbeknownst at the time to be one of the most important Indian films ever produced. (It would be the film which changed the way the world saw Bollywood movies. Mother India would be nominated for Academy Awards and cement Nargis' position as one of the most talented actresses in the world).
In the film, Nargis, then 27, was the same age as the actor playing her son. His name was Sunil Dutt. The two couldn't have been more different. Nargis was a cosmopolitan glamour queen, a true movie star of the world who shocked people by swearing like a sailor, with a mischievous wink. Sunil was a quiet, gentlemanly aspiring actor, humbled by a conservative, financially restrictive upbringing.
When he met Nargis, Sunil was completely blown away. Not only was she the most stunning woman he'd ever met, but she was a firecracker with a heart of gold. He couldn't have been more smitten.
During filming, an accidental fire broke out on set. Without missing a beat, Sunil lunged into the raging flames to save Nargis. When the movie star looked into her real-life hero's eyes, as he dragged her out of the fire, she had never felt more safe.
Her knight in shining armour nearly killed himself saving her life, and she faithfully visited him every day in the hospital, until he recovered.
Their mutual attraction flowered into a sweet and tender romance. The two developed endearing nicknames for each other. When they were apart, they wrote to each other every day. They had no secrets from each other. When Sunil's sister developed a life-threatening illness, Nargis, without hesitation, used her star power to get her the best medical attention in the country, much to the shock and gratitude of her beloved.
The courtship was not without a few snags, however. Sunil, who was raised by a traditional family, was still getting used to the fact that his girlfriend made more money than him. His family was also displeased by the hard-pressed (inaccurate) rumors in the media that Nargis was romantically involved with the dashing Raj Kapoor. Plus, the two had to keep their romance a secret during the filming of Mother India, because they played mother and son.
Instead of allowing the challenges to tear them apart, the couple talked constantly. Open communication about their feelings and thoughts allowed them to resolve their differences before getting married in 1958.
In the height of her success, Nargis happily took a long break from filmmaking to start a family with her new husband, who was quickly becoming a Bollywood sensation himself. They had three children.
Since both Nargis and Sunil were very compassionate people, they worked together on several impressive charitable causes. Nargis, who had once harbored a childhood dream to be a doctor, often visited hospitals to take care of cancer patients and learn about progressive treatments. The couple also formed the Ajanta Arts Cultural Troupe, which roped in several leading actors and singers to entertain Indian soldiers. And those are just a couple of the activities which earned the power couple world-wide respect.
Life seemed perfect until 1981. Sunil, now a respected director and producer, helped their son, Sanjay break into films. His first movie, Rocky, was expected to be a smash hit. Nargis was elated about her son's burgeoning acting career and couldn't wait to see the finished product. But the 52-year-old ended up being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Despite being treated by the best doctors in the United States, she passed away right before the film's premiere. The entire family was devastated.
Her son, Sanjay, took it the hardest. He turned to a life of drugs, before his father finally intervened and forced him to change his life. Sanjay is now a prominent figure in the Indian film industry.
Despite her early death, Nargis' influence shaped her family, and therefore the future of India. Her daughter, Priya, is now a well-known politician. Sunil also entered politics, before his death in 2005.
There is also a foundation in her name, which collects millions of dollars for cancer victims in India.