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Nargis Birth Anniversary: Mother India to Awara, 5 Memorable Performances of the Iconic Actress

Nargis, born Fatima Rashid on June 1, 1929, left behind a stellar filmography that made her one of the greatest actresses in Hindi cinema.

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Updated:June 1, 2019, 1:10 PM IST
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Nargis Birth Anniversary: Mother India to Awara, 5 Memorable Performances of the Iconic Actress
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One of the biggest stars of her times, Fatima Rashid, best known as Nargis, is widely regarded as one of the greatest actresses in the history of Hindi cinema. A career that spanned from the 1940s to the 1960s, Nargis appeared in numerous successful commercial and critically appreciated films, many of which featured her alongside actor Raj Kapoor.

While her life was tragically cut short at the age of 51 due to pancreatic cancer, the actress, who would go on to marry Sunil Dutt and raise a family with him, having three children, including Sanjay Dutt, left behind a treasure trove of films that prove that when it came to cinema, Nargis Dutt is timeless.

Mother India: Nargis' performance in Mehboob Khan’s Oscar-nominated Mother India earned her many awards the world over. A remake of Mehboob Khan's earlier film Aurat (1940), it is the story of a poor village woman Radha (Nargis), who struggles to single-handedly raise her sons and survive against a cunning money-lender. The film has been a classic Mother’s Day watch. She was only 28 years old when she played Radha, while her future husband Sunil Dutt played one of her sons.

Awaara: The film saw Nargis essaying the character of Rita, with the plot showing the intertwining lives of poor Raj (Kapoor) and privileged Rita (Nargis). While Kapoor's Chaplinesque character would further be developed in films like Shree 420, Awaara is considered a milestone in the history of Bollywood. Her performance as the urban belle, even though contemporary cinema bent more towards the traditional, is something to look out for.

Raat Aur Din: Directed by Satyen Bose, this was another career-defining film for Nargis. Her performance as a woman with multiple personality disorder earned her the first-ever National Award for Best Actress. The film saw Nargis play the role of Varuna, a married woman who has dissociative identity disorder. By day, she is a homemaker, while at night she calls herself Peggy and walks the streets of Calcutta.

Shree 420: The highest-grossing Indian film of 1955 saw Nargis essay the role of Vidya, a poor but virtuous city girl who has a soft corner for country boy Raj, who had travelled to Bombay. However, Raj is soon seduced by an unscrupulous lifestyle and ends up being a conman. Vidya's vacillation from a woman in love to one disgusted by the man she loved makes for a compelling character study.

Andaz: The Mehboob Khan directorial, featuring Dilip Kumar, Nargis and Raj Kapoor in a love triangle was the only movie to have the two iconic actors together on the big screen. The movie had a wonderful character arc showing Nargis' Neena - from being the spoiled daughter of a rich businessman who finds herself in the middle of a love triangle with two men to a woman being condemned to life in prison for murdering one of them - showcased the entire gamut of Nargis' acting prowess.

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