The Padma Shri Award is one of the highest civilian awards bestowed upon individuals by the Government of India. It is awarded for exceptional contributions in various fields, including the arts, literature, social work, and public affairs. Over the years, several Indian actors have been honored with this prestigious award, but the first Indian lady actress to receive the Padma Shri Award was Nargis Dutt.
Nargis Dutt, born Fatima Rashid, was a prominent Indian film actress, who appeared in numerous Bollywood films during the 1940s, 50s, and 60s. She was born on June 1, 1929, in Calcutta (now Kolkata) to a Muslim family of Punjabi and Urdu-speaking heritage. Her father, Abdul Rashid, was a Hindu converted to Islam, and her mother, Jaddanbai, was a prominent Hindustani classical music singer and composer.
Nargis made her acting debut at the age of six in the film Talash-E-Haq (1935), which was produced by her mother. However, her breakthrough role came in the film Tamanna (1942), where she played the lead role. She went on to star in several successful films, including Andaz (1949), Barsaat (1949), Awara (1951), Shree 420 (1955), and Mother India (1957).
In 1958, Nargis received the Padma Shri Award, making her the first Indian lady actress to be honored with this prestigious award. She was recognized for her contribution to Indian cinema and her efforts to promote social causes. She was also the first film actress to receive the award, which was previously given to other notable personalities in the fields of science, arts, and literature.
Nargis was not only a successful actress but also a philanthropist who worked for various social causes. She was one of the founders of the Spastics Society of India, which works for the rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy. She also established the Nargis Dutt Memorial Cancer Foundation in memory of her husband, Sunil Dutt, who passed away in 2005 due to cancer. The foundation provides medical assistance and support to cancer patients.
In conclusion, Nargis Dutt was the first Indian lady actress to receive the Padma Shri Award. Her contribution to Indian cinema and her philanthropic work are still remembered and admired by many. She was not only a talented actress but also a compassionate human being who dedicated her life to social causes. Her legacy continues to inspire many young actors and social activists in India.