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Darlingji the True Love Story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt
Darlingji the True Love Story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt
Description
From the Jacket

In the Late nineteenth century, in the small village of Baliya in northern India, a thirteen-year-old Brahmin widow meets a Muslim sarangi player and elopes with him. Many years later, their daughter Jaddanbai moves to Bombay and becomes a start of the early talkies. Chateau Marine, her home on Marine Drive, is famous for its evening mehfils and for the dreams it nurtures: regular visitors include Dilip Kumar Mehboob and Kamal Amrohi. It is also the home of Baby Rani, Jaddanbai's daughter, who will set the screen ablaze as Nargis, the most accomplished actress of her time.

Far removed from this world of glamour, a young boy named Balraj Dutt spends his teenage years attempting to rehabilitate himself and his family after the trauma of Partition. In 1950, at the age of twenty, he arrives in Bombay. And there his life takes an unexpected turn: he is given the lead role in a new film, Railway Platform, and is soon on his way to becoming Sunil Dutt, the film star.

Then comes the moment that transforms both their lives: on 1 March 1957, during the making of Mother India, Nargis is trapped in a circle of flames and Sunil risks his life to save her. They recuperate together, and fall in love. Nargis has been in a long but futile relationship with the mercurial Raj Kapoor, and in Sunil she finally finds an anchor. Their relationship is stormy and secretive to start with, but it survives every crisis to culminate in a quiet wedding on 11 March 1958. What follows are years of togetherness, including the joys of caring for their three children, Sanjay, Namrata and Priya, but also days of pain and heartbreak: financial trouble, Nargis's illness, Sanjay's addiction to drugs.

Based on the diaries and letters of Nargis, Sunil and Priya, as well as on conversations and interviews with family and friends, Darlingji-as they often addressed each other-is a probing yet affectionate biography of two extraordinary people. At the same time, traveling as it does from the nineteenth century to the present, the book tells the larger story of the evolution of Hindi cinema, and of a society and a nation in the process of change.

About the Author

Kishwar Desai has been a television anchor and producer for over twenty years. She has worked with NDTV, TV Today and Doordarshan. Her last job in television was as Vice-President, Zee Telefilms. She has written an award-winning play, Manto! And scripts for various documentaries. She has just completed the script for a feature film to be directed by Shyam Benegal. She is currently working on a biography of Saadat Hasan Manto.

Introduction

Indian cinema is, or at least ought to be, a national monument ion par with the Taj Mahal and the Qutab Minar. It is older than Hollywood and bigger in terms of the films made. It is commercially successful not just in India, but around the globe, and not only among the Indian diaspora but across many countries in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and lately in the developed world as well. It uses imported equipment to this day, yet it is not the hardware but the software-the story, dialogue, songs and dances-that Indian talent brings to cinema, which gives it its unique position. It is not the oldest but definitely one of the most successful modern industries India has created for itself.

Of course I can only speak of Hindi commercial cinema, Bollywood, as it is misleadingly though unavoidably called now. But Hindi cinema-and even this is problematic because the language it uses is not Hindi but what used to be called Hindustani, an amalgam of Hindi and Urdu-is the most widely watched across India in Hindi and non-Hindi speaking areas. This cinema in its talkies phasse is now more than 75 years old.

When I was growing up, films were at the heart of all conversations with friends and relations. We saw as many films as our parents would let us and often more. We talked about the stories, remembered large chunks of dialogue and worshipped the stars. Among men there were the great three-Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. But among the women there was only Nargis. None could match films. Suraiya fell by the wayside by the early 50s since playback singing devalued a singing star and Madhubala, though very beautiful, got lousy parts until Guru Dutt discovered her talent for light comedy in Mr and Mrs 55. Meena Kumari was a starlet in Wadia's mythological films until the mid-1950s when Bimal Roy gave her a break with Parineeta.

From 1947 to the day she retired from films after her marriage, Nargis was at the top. She was the 'Woman in White', dignified, glamorous, fashionable and talented. See her in Andaaz as a spoilt Westernized femme fatale, and in Jogan as an austere yet beautiful sadhvi, two films made just a year apart, and you see the range of her acting. Her films with Dilip Kumar-Mela, Babul, Deedar and of course Andaaz and Jogan-made us all cry since one or the other, or both (Mela), had to die or be blinded (Deedar). Tragedy was Dilip Kumar's forte in those days and she matched him frame by frame. Like many of my generation, I watched each of these films several times.

She was paired with Raj Kapoor, and they became the idols of the young. In their films Barsaat and especially Awara, they portrayed romantic young love to the limit that the film censors would permit. They also made many indifferent films together, as well as some that count as memorable for various reasons, like Anbonee where she played a double role and Chori Chori for the Shankar-Jaikishen score. By the time they made Shree 420, her roles were shrinking, but even there we have the unforgettable duet 'Pyar hua ikrar hua' with the two standing in the rain under an umbrella. Our romantic sensibilities were shaped by Nargis's films. When she was awarded the Padma Shri, I recall the headlines in the Bombay newspapers. She after all belonged to India but even more so to Bombay, we thought. Then one day we read to our surprise that she had married Sunil Dutt.

The young actor Sunil Dutt was so shy that he blushed on screen in his romantic scenes with Meena Kumari in Ek Hi Raasta where I first saw him. He was a gentle and handsome Bengali bhadralok hero in Sujata, and then there is my favourite Sunil Dutt film Ek Phool Char Kaante with Waheeda Rehman, which displays his talent for light comedy. When Mehboob cast him as Birju, he saw in Sunil Dutt what no other director had seen so far. This was the other Sunil Dutt, the smouldering, wronged man fighting against all forces for justice or simply revenge. This was after all the role Mehboob had first offered Dilip Kumar, who wanted to play the father as well since otherwise Nargis had the bigger role. (Dilip Kumar's version of Mother India is Ganga Jamuna, with two brothers, one good and one bad, but with the mother's part scaled down). Sunil Dutt Fulfilled his promise in that film and, of course, won the heroine's heart.

This is the story that Kishwar Desai tells us. India is ill-served in terms of the biographies of its cinema greats. What passed for biographies for years were often collections of unverifiable gossip and vignettes sans attribute, with film stills their selling point and often an inadequate filmography of the subject, or worse, none at all. Stars were lucky to have some biographies; directors, producers, cameramen, music directors, art directors and the rest hardly ever figured on the bookshelves.

Kishwar Desai has been assiduous in gathering primary material-diaries, letters, interviews, archival material-to construct this account of their lives. It will surprise many and dispel some myths. Nargis is romantically associated in popular imagination with Raj Kapoor. Yet it is her love for Sunil Dutt and her tenacity in convincing him of her love which will replace the older myth once you have read this book.

Kishwar and I met when I was writing my book on Dilip Kumar and she was my managing editor. I also fell in love and was lucky to win her love and we got married. Our plan was to write a book on Nargis together and we met Sunil Dutt who promised to read and contribute towards this promised biography of Mrs Dutt, as he always insisted on calling her. Yet, within six months of our meeting, he too was gone on a day when, as it happened, Kishwar and I were watching Mother India in our London home. It eventually became Kishwar's solo effort, but it is one which I have watched grow with fascination and read with delight. I hope you do the same.

Contents

Introductionix
Prologue3
DILIPA
1880-1900
8
JADDANBAI
1910-1930
SANGIT MOVIETONE
1930s
20
BALRAJ DUTT
1930-1947
43
CHATEAU MARINE
1930s-1940s
57
NARGIS
1940-1950
69
BALRAJ/SUNIL
1950
85
RAJ KAPOOR
1948-1955
105
SHREE 420
1955-1957
137
RADHA AND BIRJU
1957
159
'PIA' AND 'HEY THERE'
1957
172
PARDESI
1957
183
HEARTBREAK HOTEL
1957
197
MONROE AND PRESLEY
1957
216
LAJWANTI
1957
230
MOTHER INDIA
1957
238
MRS DUTT?
1957
251
PADMA SHRI NARGIS
1958
259
DUTT SAHIB
1958
268
PALI HILL
1960-1970
304
RESHMA AUR SHERA
1969-1970s
320
THE FAMILY
1970s
336
SLOANE KETTERING
1980-81
358
HARD TIMES
1981
385
SUNIL DUTT, MP
1984-87
398
THE LAST DAYS
1987-2005
409
Epilogue432
Filmography433
Select Bibliography438
Acknowledgements440
Picture Credits443

Darlingji the True Love Story of Nargis and Sunil Dutt

Item Code:
IDK391
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
2007
Publisher:
The India Today Group, New Delhi
ISBN:
9788172236977
Size:
8.4" X 5.5"
Pages:
442 (13 Color Illus:, 30 B/W Illustrations)
Price:
$31.50   Shipping Free
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From the Jacket

In the Late nineteenth century, in the small village of Baliya in northern India, a thirteen-year-old Brahmin widow meets a Muslim sarangi player and elopes with him. Many years later, their daughter Jaddanbai moves to Bombay and becomes a start of the early talkies. Chateau Marine, her home on Marine Drive, is famous for its evening mehfils and for the dreams it nurtures: regular visitors include Dilip Kumar Mehboob and Kamal Amrohi. It is also the home of Baby Rani, Jaddanbai's daughter, who will set the screen ablaze as Nargis, the most accomplished actress of her time.

Far removed from this world of glamour, a young boy named Balraj Dutt spends his teenage years attempting to rehabilitate himself and his family after the trauma of Partition. In 1950, at the age of twenty, he arrives in Bombay. And there his life takes an unexpected turn: he is given the lead role in a new film, Railway Platform, and is soon on his way to becoming Sunil Dutt, the film star.

Then comes the moment that transforms both their lives: on 1 March 1957, during the making of Mother India, Nargis is trapped in a circle of flames and Sunil risks his life to save her. They recuperate together, and fall in love. Nargis has been in a long but futile relationship with the mercurial Raj Kapoor, and in Sunil she finally finds an anchor. Their relationship is stormy and secretive to start with, but it survives every crisis to culminate in a quiet wedding on 11 March 1958. What follows are years of togetherness, including the joys of caring for their three children, Sanjay, Namrata and Priya, but also days of pain and heartbreak: financial trouble, Nargis's illness, Sanjay's addiction to drugs.

Based on the diaries and letters of Nargis, Sunil and Priya, as well as on conversations and interviews with family and friends, Darlingji-as they often addressed each other-is a probing yet affectionate biography of two extraordinary people. At the same time, traveling as it does from the nineteenth century to the present, the book tells the larger story of the evolution of Hindi cinema, and of a society and a nation in the process of change.

About the Author

Kishwar Desai has been a television anchor and producer for over twenty years. She has worked with NDTV, TV Today and Doordarshan. Her last job in television was as Vice-President, Zee Telefilms. She has written an award-winning play, Manto! And scripts for various documentaries. She has just completed the script for a feature film to be directed by Shyam Benegal. She is currently working on a biography of Saadat Hasan Manto.

Introduction

Indian cinema is, or at least ought to be, a national monument ion par with the Taj Mahal and the Qutab Minar. It is older than Hollywood and bigger in terms of the films made. It is commercially successful not just in India, but around the globe, and not only among the Indian diaspora but across many countries in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and lately in the developed world as well. It uses imported equipment to this day, yet it is not the hardware but the software-the story, dialogue, songs and dances-that Indian talent brings to cinema, which gives it its unique position. It is not the oldest but definitely one of the most successful modern industries India has created for itself.

Of course I can only speak of Hindi commercial cinema, Bollywood, as it is misleadingly though unavoidably called now. But Hindi cinema-and even this is problematic because the language it uses is not Hindi but what used to be called Hindustani, an amalgam of Hindi and Urdu-is the most widely watched across India in Hindi and non-Hindi speaking areas. This cinema in its talkies phasse is now more than 75 years old.

When I was growing up, films were at the heart of all conversations with friends and relations. We saw as many films as our parents would let us and often more. We talked about the stories, remembered large chunks of dialogue and worshipped the stars. Among men there were the great three-Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand. But among the women there was only Nargis. None could match films. Suraiya fell by the wayside by the early 50s since playback singing devalued a singing star and Madhubala, though very beautiful, got lousy parts until Guru Dutt discovered her talent for light comedy in Mr and Mrs 55. Meena Kumari was a starlet in Wadia's mythological films until the mid-1950s when Bimal Roy gave her a break with Parineeta.

From 1947 to the day she retired from films after her marriage, Nargis was at the top. She was the 'Woman in White', dignified, glamorous, fashionable and talented. See her in Andaaz as a spoilt Westernized femme fatale, and in Jogan as an austere yet beautiful sadhvi, two films made just a year apart, and you see the range of her acting. Her films with Dilip Kumar-Mela, Babul, Deedar and of course Andaaz and Jogan-made us all cry since one or the other, or both (Mela), had to die or be blinded (Deedar). Tragedy was Dilip Kumar's forte in those days and she matched him frame by frame. Like many of my generation, I watched each of these films several times.

She was paired with Raj Kapoor, and they became the idols of the young. In their films Barsaat and especially Awara, they portrayed romantic young love to the limit that the film censors would permit. They also made many indifferent films together, as well as some that count as memorable for various reasons, like Anbonee where she played a double role and Chori Chori for the Shankar-Jaikishen score. By the time they made Shree 420, her roles were shrinking, but even there we have the unforgettable duet 'Pyar hua ikrar hua' with the two standing in the rain under an umbrella. Our romantic sensibilities were shaped by Nargis's films. When she was awarded the Padma Shri, I recall the headlines in the Bombay newspapers. She after all belonged to India but even more so to Bombay, we thought. Then one day we read to our surprise that she had married Sunil Dutt.

The young actor Sunil Dutt was so shy that he blushed on screen in his romantic scenes with Meena Kumari in Ek Hi Raasta where I first saw him. He was a gentle and handsome Bengali bhadralok hero in Sujata, and then there is my favourite Sunil Dutt film Ek Phool Char Kaante with Waheeda Rehman, which displays his talent for light comedy. When Mehboob cast him as Birju, he saw in Sunil Dutt what no other director had seen so far. This was the other Sunil Dutt, the smouldering, wronged man fighting against all forces for justice or simply revenge. This was after all the role Mehboob had first offered Dilip Kumar, who wanted to play the father as well since otherwise Nargis had the bigger role. (Dilip Kumar's version of Mother India is Ganga Jamuna, with two brothers, one good and one bad, but with the mother's part scaled down). Sunil Dutt Fulfilled his promise in that film and, of course, won the heroine's heart.

This is the story that Kishwar Desai tells us. India is ill-served in terms of the biographies of its cinema greats. What passed for biographies for years were often collections of unverifiable gossip and vignettes sans attribute, with film stills their selling point and often an inadequate filmography of the subject, or worse, none at all. Stars were lucky to have some biographies; directors, producers, cameramen, music directors, art directors and the rest hardly ever figured on the bookshelves.

Kishwar Desai has been assiduous in gathering primary material-diaries, letters, interviews, archival material-to construct this account of their lives. It will surprise many and dispel some myths. Nargis is romantically associated in popular imagination with Raj Kapoor. Yet it is her love for Sunil Dutt and her tenacity in convincing him of her love which will replace the older myth once you have read this book.

Kishwar and I met when I was writing my book on Dilip Kumar and she was my managing editor. I also fell in love and was lucky to win her love and we got married. Our plan was to write a book on Nargis together and we met Sunil Dutt who promised to read and contribute towards this promised biography of Mrs Dutt, as he always insisted on calling her. Yet, within six months of our meeting, he too was gone on a day when, as it happened, Kishwar and I were watching Mother India in our London home. It eventually became Kishwar's solo effort, but it is one which I have watched grow with fascination and read with delight. I hope you do the same.

Contents

Introductionix
Prologue3
DILIPA
1880-1900
8
JADDANBAI
1910-1930
SANGIT MOVIETONE
1930s
20
BALRAJ DUTT
1930-1947
43
CHATEAU MARINE
1930s-1940s
57
NARGIS
1940-1950
69
BALRAJ/SUNIL
1950
85
RAJ KAPOOR
1948-1955
105
SHREE 420
1955-1957
137
RADHA AND BIRJU
1957
159
'PIA' AND 'HEY THERE'
1957
172
PARDESI
1957
183
HEARTBREAK HOTEL
1957
197
MONROE AND PRESLEY
1957
216
LAJWANTI
1957
230
MOTHER INDIA
1957
238
MRS DUTT?
1957
251
PADMA SHRI NARGIS
1958
259
DUTT SAHIB
1958
268
PALI HILL
1960-1970
304
RESHMA AUR SHERA
1969-1970s
320
THE FAMILY
1970s
336
SLOANE KETTERING
1980-81
358
HARD TIMES
1981
385
SUNIL DUTT, MP
1984-87
398
THE LAST DAYS
1987-2005
409
Epilogue432
Filmography433
Select Bibliography438
Acknowledgements440
Picture Credits443
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