Nargis was daughter of a courageous lady Bai Jaddanbai who initially used to sing on Kotha, private music programs/ Mehfils and then started working in movies. She started her own film company and debut film of Nargis ‘Talash E Haq’ was produced by that company. Original name of Nargis was Fatima Rashid as her father was UttamchandMohanchand alias Abdul Rashid an original Hindu converted to Muslim. For silver screen Fatima was named as Baby Rani. Though journey in films was started, Nargis wanted to be a doctor, but later on Mehboob Khan made her to continue career in films only.
Teenager Nargis appeared as a heroine in movie ‘Taqdir’ by Mehboob Khan. He named her ‘Nargis’ meaning a daffodils flower and the name continued to be used all the life. She confidently performed with the then great actors Motilal, Chandra Mohan and her initial movies ‘Humayun’, Nargis achieved moderate success.
The movie Aag gave a turning point to film career of Nargis. It was released in 1948 in which she was the third heroine with Nigar Sultana and Kamini Kaushal. It was R K banner film and thus she entered in R K films. In the same year, her another two movies Anokha Pyar and Mela were released with Dilip Kumar. In Anokha Pyar role of Nalini Jaywant was kind of getting sympathy of viewers but role performed by Nargis impressed all. Both these movies are still remembered for songs. Nargis proved her acting skills in the film Andaj by Mehboob Khan. She competently played the role with all mental agonies of one-sided love affair, blame of a murder and all consequential psychological ups and downs.
R K achieved great success for Barsaat and Raj Kapoor Nargis pair became hit of the time making people mad to watch their films. Both of them started coming close and it was objected by Jaddanbai. In 1949 she expired and then Raj Kapoor became the big support for Nargis. Release of Barsat stamped Nargis as heroine of R K Films. Then came historically acclaimed Awara and Shree 420. Though movies were centralized to Raj Kapoor only, Nargis also had importance in the story and that’s why her role of a simple girl in Shree 420 is still remembered.
Other producers also made movies with hit Raj Kapoor Nargis pair such as ‘Jaan Pahchan’, ‘Pyar’, ‘Ambar’, ‘Anhoni’, ‘Ashiyana’ and the list goes on. ‘Chori Chori’ is the last movie by this pair as after that they did never came on screen as hero and heroine. Nargis was there in ‘Jagate Raho’ but with a guest appearance. There were many speculations and gossip about relation of Raj Kapoor Nargis pair. It was also said that story of ‘Sone ki Chidiya’ film was based on their relation.
Artist with much acting potential have to get roles to prove their talent and it has to be scrutinized that how much times Nargis got such roles. Her role was very nice in ‘Jogan’ and her opposite was the great Dilip Kumar, but this film by Ranjeet could not get success. Nargis honestly performed the roles in ‘Adalat’, ‘Lajwanti’ but the films were inferior. She nicely lived the roles in all movies; just remember an innocent rural girl in ‘Babul’, heroine starving for freedom in ‘Chori Chori’.
But Nargis means ‘Mother India’. It’s a remake of film Roti, but it superseded the original movie. Mother India is the story of Radha who represented the women in rural India who are being crushed cruelly with injustice, exploitation and struggle to protect chastity and self – respect. Mother India is the apex point of career of Nargis, giving meaning to her acting and the movie is best on fronts of story, screenplay, dialogues, direction, music and also acting. In this single movie Nargis presented a young lady, middle age mother and an old courageous woman at her best. Radha is the reflection of sorrows and pains who starves for few happy moments all the life along. It is her courage that makes her able to face innumerable difficulties and struggles. This makes Radha not only a role in any movie but an epic tragedy. After so many decades generations together are loving Radha portrayed by Nargis with all her spellbound magical performance which is never being considered as ‘acting’.
Nargis was so lucky to have a matured and understanding person like Sunil Dutt as husband. After the movie ‘Raat Aur Din’, she left acting and devoted herself to social work. She was honoured with an opportunity to become member of Rajya Sabha (MP) where she worked for issues in film industry and also contributed for industry to gain prestige. But destiny was so cruel to make her suffer with cancer. She could have contributed a lot to films and society, but she succumbed to cancer with very untimely death. She might have started character roles in movies, but industry and we all were not that much lucky. Nargis, the daffodil flower, is still giving aroma by all her contribution for films and society and will continue to spread it forever.