Along with her husband, Nargis formed the Ajanta Arts Cultural Troupe, which roped in several leading actors and singers of the time and held stage shows at border areas. In early 1970s, she became the first patron of Spastics Society of India, and her subsequent work with the organisation brought her recognition as a social worker, and later a Rajya Sabha nomination in 1980.
Nargis died in 1981 of pancreatic cancer, a few days before her son Sanjay Dutt made his film debut in Bollywood. In 1982, the Nargis Dutt Memorial Cancer Foundation was established in her memory. The award for best feature film on national integration in the annual National Film Awards ceremony is called the Nargis Dutt Award in her honour.
Nargis was born in Calcutta, the daughter of Allahabad-based Muslim singer, Jaddanbai and a Hindu Mohyal father of Rawalpindi, named Uttamchand Mohanchand. Her only brother, Anwar Hussain, also became a film actor.
Nargis appeared in numerous movies after her film debut; she won lasting fame for her later, adult, roles, starting with at the age of 14, in Mehboob Khan’s Taqdeer in 1943 opposite, Motilal. She starred in many popular Hindi-Urdu movies of the late 1940s and 1950s such as Barsaat (1949), Andaz (1949), Awaara (1951), Deedar (1951), Shree 420 (1955), and Chori Chori (1956). In most of her films she starred alongside Raj Kapoor and Dilip Kumar.
Her most famous role came in Mehboob Khan’s Oscar-nominated rural drama Mother India in 1957. She won the Filmfare Best Actress Award for her performance. After her marriage to Sunil Dutt in 1958, Nargis gave up her film career after her last few film releases to settle down with her family. She made her last film appearance in the 1967 film Raat Aur Din for which she won a National Film Award for Best Actress, the first actress to win in this category. She also received a Filmfare Best Actress Award Nomination for this film.
Along with her husband, Nargis formed the Ajanta Arts Cultural Troupe, which roped in several leading actors and singers of the time, and performed at remote frontiers to entertain the Indian soldiers; it was the first troupe to perform at Dhaka, after the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 and the formation of Bangladesh. Later, Nargis worked for the cause of spastic children. She became the first patron of The Spastics Society of India. Her charitable work for the organisation got her recognition as a social worker.
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