Popular film actress Nargis, mother of present-day actor Sanjay Dutt and wife of eminent Indian actor and politician Sunil Dutt, is India’s ‘First’ and the ‘Only’ actress to date to win the prestigious Best Actress Karlovy Vary International Film Festival Award. She won the award for her powerhouse and gigantic performance in Mehboob Khan‘s film Mother India (1957). It may be noted that Karlovy Vary International Film Festival is one of the oldest that started in 1948. Nargis won the award in 1958.
Besides, international acclaim Nargis won the Best Actress Filmfare award and much accolades from her fans and film critics. What makes Nargis immortal as Radha the protagonist in Mother India is the wide range that Nargis portrays from a beautiful young bride to the middle-aged mother who battles the hardships of life to the old lady who kills her own son to save the dignity of the village! The versatility with which Nargis infuses life in each stage of her role is worth applause.
Despite being at the top as number one actress in Bollywood and the most favorite actress of RK Films, Nargis took the challenging decision of doing a mother’s role when she was just 25 years old and unmarried!! Raj Kapoor was so angry with Nargis‘s decision to act in Mother India that the duo had a major showdown and Nargis quit the RK Films banner forever!!
Eyebrows were raised at Nargis‘s stupid decision to abandon RK Films for Mehboob Khan‘s Mother India. However, an intelligent Nargis had signed the film knowing well in advance it was a life-time opportunity to display her talent. Hence she poured all her energy and emerged successfully. During the shooting of Mother India‘s climax, Nargis did the thrilling scene when she enters into the blazing hay sticks. She did not bother about her life and jumped into the fire. Unfortunately, she was trapped in the blazing fire. Fortunately, Sunil Dutt instantly jumped in and saved her from being burnt from the deadly inferno. For the famine scene, she spends a week shooting in the muddy filth without any clamor. In nutshell, Mother India turned out to be a watershed film in the career of Nargis as she won worldwide acclaim as an actress par excellence.
Admeasuring the magnitude of her role and the quality of her performance filmmaker Mehboob Khan added an additional feather in her cap by honoring her with – ‘THE MOST PROMINENT CREDIT TITLE’ (ever conferred to any film star) on the silver screen as well as on publicity posters! And what’s more… her name precedes the film’s title itself!!!