India’s most successful star kid was superstar at 14, daughter of tawaif, affair with married star broke her, died at…

India’s most successful star kid was superstar at 14, daughter of tawaif, affair with married star broke her, died at…

This star kid was a superstar at 14, gave more all-time blockbusters than anybody else, but quit films at just 29

The term superstar has been used prolifically over the last few years. Any actor who attains some amount of mainstream success is quickly dubbed a superstar by press and overzealous publicists. But there was a time when this term was used scarcely, only for the biggest of the stars in any film industry. The likes of Ashok Kumar, Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor, and KL Saigal were the first superstars of Bollywood. But the women were not too far behind. In fact, the youngest of them all was a star kid.

India’s most successful star kid

Nargis was born to tawaif-turned composer and filmmaker Jaddanbai in 1929. Her father Abdul Rashid, formerly Mohanchand Uttamchand Tyagi, was a wealthy heir from Rawalpindi who had converted from Hinduism to Islam. Originally named Fatima, Nargis made her debut at 6 in Talashe Haq, a film made by Jaddanbai herself. In 1943, she appeared in Mehboob Khan’s Taqdeer, opposite Motilal. The film was a big box office success and made Nargis an overnight star. She had her next breakthrough in 1949 when she appeared in Andaz and Barsaat. Both films broke the record for being the highest-grossing Indian film ever. Still only 19, Nargis was now the biggest female star in the country.

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Nargis

Nargis’ phenomenal box office run

From 1951057, Nargis was virtually untouchable at the box office, appearing in all-time blockbusters like Awaara, Shree 420, Chori Chori, all with Raj Kapoor. In 1957, she starred in Mother India, which broke the record for being the highest-grossing Indian film ever. Till date, it remains the only woman-led film to be the highest grosser. Nargis holds the record for being the actress with most all-time blockbusters. And she achieved all this by the age of 29, after which she married her Mother India co-star Sunil Dutt, and quit acting.

Nargis’ affair with Raj Kapoor

In 1948, Nargis starred with Raj Kapoor for the first time in Aag. Although Raj Kapoor was already married and had kids, the two started a relationship. As Raj Kapoor and Nargis worked together in a number of successful films over the next decade, the affair continued. However, after Raj Kapoor refused to leave his wife, in 1957, Nargis ended the relationship. As per reports, the young star was left heartbroken at this. Soon, however, she found love in Sunil Dutt when they worked together in Mother India.

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Nargis and Raj Kapoor

Nargis’ comeback and tragic death

 

In the 60s, Nargis appeared only in cameos in a couple of films. In 1967, at the age of 38, she attempted a comeback with a bold, experimental film called Raat Aur Din. She received critical acclaim for her performance of a woman with dissociative identity disorder and won the National Award for Best Actress. However, this was her final film performance. Nargis entered politics and was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1980. During a session in the Parliament, she fell ill and was diagnosed with cancer. She died in May 1981 at the age of 51.

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