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Acting was nowhere on the horizon for the Dutts but Sunil proved otherwise, by not just working in iconic films but also marrying timeless diva, Nargis. The Dutt family has been one of the best things that has happened to Bollywood.
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Born as Balraj Dutt, this legend gave the country a lot of be proud about. Sunil Dutt’s birth took place in pre-independent India on June 6, 1929. At the tender age of five, he suffered the loss of his father, Diwan Raghunath Dutt. As he turned 18, the partition drama unfolded and with his mother, Kulwantidevi, Dutt escaped from Pakistan and found refuge in Mandauli, now Haryana. After a stint in Lucknow, Sunil Dutt made his way to the city of dreams, which he would one day be a sheriff of.
Speaking about his ancestors, Sunil Dutt had revealed that years later when he visited his village Khurd in Pakistan’s Punjab, the villagers had showered him with love. They respected his forefathers who were landlords and lived in harmony with Muslims.
Sunil Dutt is an alumnus of Jai Hind College in Mumbai and in 1954, he graduated with B.A. (Hons.) in History. As an undergraduate, he worked with the city’s BEST Transportation Engineering division. Sunil Dutt’s mastery of the Urdu language earned him popularity in the Hindi service of Radio Ceylon, South Asia’s oldest radio station. His transition into the world of Hindi cinema began with his debut in the 1955 film ‘Railway Platform’. In a career spanning decades, Sunil Dutt’s most celebrated performances are Mother India (1957), Gumraah (1963), Waqt (1965), Khandaan (1965), Padosan (1968), Reshma Aur Shera (1971), and Mujhe Jeene Do (1963), which he also produced.
In 1968, the Government of India conferred upon him the prestigious Padma Shri. In 1984, Sunil Dutt made a significant move by joining the Indian National Congress party and he went on to serve five terms as a Member of Parliament from the Mumbai North West constituency. He also held the esteemed position of Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports in the Manmohan Singh government from 2004 to 2005. He passed away on May 25, 2005.
Nargis exuded elegance every time she graced the silver screen and captivated a million hearts with her charismatic presence. She was named Fatima Rashid on her birth on June 1, 1929. Her father, Abdul Rashid converted to Islam from being an heir of the Mohyal Brahmin caste from Rawalpindi and married Jaddanbai Hussain, who was born in a Muslim family of Hindu Brahmin origin.
Nargis’ mother was a celebrated Hindustani classical music singer and one of the first female music composers of Indian cinema. Nargis debuted as a child artist at the age of six with the 1935 film Talash-e-Haq, which was produced by her mother. At the age of 14, Nargis was launched as a leading lady with Mehboob Khan’s Taqdeer (1943) and blockbusters like Barsaat (1949), Andaz (1949), Awara (1951), Shree 420 (1955) and Mother India (1957) among others glittered her career. Mother India won an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category but reportedly failed to win because of a single vote.
Nargis Dutt’s final big screen outing was the psychological drama Raat Aur Din (1967), earning her the inaugural National Film Award for Best Actress. In 1980, she received a nomination to the Rajya Sabha (the upper house of the Indian Parliament). However, due to her battle with cancer, she passed away on 3 May 1981, during her term.
A timeless love saga
Sunil Dutt and Nargis crossed paths when the former was working with Radio Ceylon. Years later, they shared the frame in Mehboob Khan’s iconic movie Mother India. Legend has it that Sunil Dutt played a true hero beyond the camera and saved Nargis from a fire on the sets, and thus forged a bond of eternity. They had a secret wedding in 1958 and embraced parenthood with three children, son Sanjay Dutt and daughters, Priya Dutt and Namrata Dutt.
Nargis and Sunil Dutt turned parents with the birth of son Sanjay on 29 July 1959. Did you know he was named after his famous parents asked readers of an Urdu language film magazine to send suggestions? The loving son of Nargis and Sunil, debuted as a child artist in 1971 release Reshma Aur Shera, wherein he played a Qawwali Singer. A decade later, Rocky marked his launch vehicle and was helmed by Sanjay’s father Sunil Dutt.
In an unfortunate turn of events, the Dutt family was rocked with the news of Nargis’ pancreatic cancer. She underwent treatment in New York while Sunil Dutt called the shots for Rocky. Just a few days ahead of Sanjay Dutt’s debut release, Rocky, Nargis passed away. On May 07, 1981, at the premiere of Rocky, a seat was kept vacant for Nargis. Saajan (1991), Khalnayak (1993), Vaastav: The Reality (1999) and Munna Bhai M.B.B.S. (2003) are counted among Sanjay Dutt’s most notable performances.
Sanjay Dutt ventured into politics in 2009, contesting elections from the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat. However; he was barred from running for elections because of his six-year sentence for illegal possession of weapons in the Mumbai 1993 serial bomb blasts.
The Big C was back to haunt Dutt in 2020, when he was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. After extensive treatment, Dutt had confirmed that he is cancer free.
In 1987, Sanjay Dutt married actress Richa Sharma and in 1988, the couple had a daughter Trishala Dutt. Once again tragedy struck the star as he lost his first wife to brain tumour. Richa Sharma passed away in 1996, while staying with her parents in the US.
Far away from the world of glamour, Trishala founded a premium hair clip-in extensions brand in New York. She stays with her maternal grandparents and is a professional psychotherapist. Sanjay Dutt occasionally visits her in the US.
In 1998, Dutt got married a second time, to air-hostess-turned-model Rhea Pillai. The couple parted ways in 2008 after a much talked about alimony settlement.
Sanjay Dutt had a third wedding in 2008. He got hitched to Maanayata in a registered marriage in Goa and they later had a Hindu wedding ceremony in Mumbai. On 21 October 2010, the couple welcomed twins – son Shahraan and daughter Iqra. In an unplanned move, Maanayata and the kids moved to Dubai, where they have been living for the past few years. Maanayata’s business is reportedly settled in Dubai and Dutt makes occasional visits to his family there.
Sunil and Nagis Dutt welcomed daughter Namrata in 1962, who prefers to stay away from the limelight. In 1984, Namrata married the nation’s heartthrob Kumar Gaurav.
Son of actor Rajendra Kumar and Shukla Kumar Tuli, Kumar Gaurav made a successful entry in films with Love Story in 1981 and ended his acting stint as a one film wonder. His father Rajendra Kumar and father-in-law Sunil Dutt were co-stars in Mother India. Namrata Dutt and Kumar Gaurav have two daughters – Saachi, who is married to Kamal Amrohi’s grandson Bilal Amrohi and Siya, who is married to Aditya Udani.
Nargis and Sunil Dutt welcomed daughter Priya in August 1996. She is the only child of the couple who has carried forward their political legacy. In November 2005, Priya won her first election during the 14th Lok Sabha from Mumbai North West constituency in Maharashtra. She represented the Indian National Congress party. In the latest 2019 Indian general elections, Priya lost her seat to Poonam Mahajan. In 2003, Priya got hitched to entrepreneur Owen Roncon. The couple have two sons, Siddharth and Sumair.