New Delhi, Nov 1 (UNI) When a relationship is stormy and secretive to start with, it survives every crisis to culminate in any situation.
Based on the diaries and letters of Sunil Dutt, his wife Nargis, and their daughter Priya, as well on conversations and interviews with family and friends, ''Darlingji'', as they often addressed each other, is a probing yet affectionate biography of the two extraordinary people of Hindi Cinema world.
The story begins in the late 19th century, in a small village of northern India, where a 13-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 star of the early talkies. Chateau Marine, her home on the Marine Drive, is famous for its evening 'mehfils' where Dilip Kumar, Mehboob and Kamal Amrohi were the the regular visitors .
It is also the home of Jaddanbai's daughter Fatima, who would set the screen ablaze as Nargis, the most accomplished actress of her time.
Far removed from this glamour world, a young boy, named Balraj Dutt spending his teenage years attempting to rehabiliate himself and his family after the trauma of Partition. In 1950 at the age of 20, he arrives in Bombay. And there his life takes an unexpected turn: he is given a lead role in a film and is soon on his way to becoming Sunil Dutt, the film star.
Then comes the moment that transform life further: on First 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.
Earlier, Nargis had a long but futile relationship. Though this did not affect the new one and this survived every crisis to culminate in a quite wedding on 11 March 1958.
What follows are years of togetherness, including the joys of caring three children, Sanjay, Namrata and Priya but also days of pain and heartbreak: financial trouble, Nargi's illness, Sanjay's addiction to drugs.
Travelling as it does from the 19th century to the present, the book tells a larger story of the evolution of Hindi cinema and of a society in the throes of change.