Zohra Sehgal was born just a year before Indian cinema came into being. The film, theatre and TV personality she grew to be as colourful and entertaining as the industry itself. Her zest for life, wit and charm have inspired generations in the industry.
"She is the most incredible woman I have ever met and one of the finest actresses I have ever seen," filmmaker R. Balki said in a 2012 interview. Zohra Sehgal played Amitabh Bachchan's 'bindaas' mom in his 2007 film 'Cheeni Kum'
In pic: Zohra Sehgal her younger sister, Uzra, in Juhu in 1935.
In 2008, Zohra Sehgal was named the 'Laadli of the Century' by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF)-Laadli Media Awards. The tireless performer used to reside in New Delhi with her daughter, renowned Odissi danseuse Kiran Sehgal. In 1994, Zohra Sehgal was diagnosed with cancer, but she fought it off
In pic: Zohra Sehgal returning from Bali with Uday Shankar and Kamala Chowdhury, in 1938.
As a youngster, Zohra was passionate about dance. Her tryst with showbiz began with dance when she joined Uday Shankar in 1935 and worked with him for a few years. She went on to teach dance in Almora later, and that's where she met painter and dancer Kameshwar Sehgal and married him.
Zohra Sehgal later took to dramatics with the Prithvi Theatre in 1945. She worked with them for 14 years, travelling to various cities, and even joined the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA).
In pic: On the way to the US, Zohra Sehgal and Uzra seen with Ravi Shankar, Uday Shankar, Simkie and others in February 1937.
Zohra, considered a doyen of Indian theatre, appeared in many films. She is best remembered for her appearances in 'Bhaji on the Beach' (1992), 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam', 'Bend It Like Beckham' (2002), 'Dil Se...' (1998) and 'Cheeni Kum' (2007). Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who directed her in two of his films -- 'Hum Dil...' and 'Saawariya', had once said, "To call her a livewire is an understatement."
In pic: Zohra Sehgal with Kathakali dancer Madhavan Nair.
From Prithviraj Kapoor to Raj Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor, she has worked with four generations of Bollywood's famous Kapoor family.
In pic: Zohra Sehgal, Kiran and Pavan with Prithviraj Kapoor, London, 1960s.
She was perhaps one of the first Indians to have a taste of international entertainment. In the mid-1960s, she featured in an adaptation of Rudyard Kipling's 'The Rescue of Pluffles', and then also anchored a few episodes of television series 'Padosi'.
In pic: Zohra Sehgal rehearsing for Varsha Mangal, 1935.
While she was in London, she featured in a film called 'The Courtesans of Bombay', directed by James Ivory in 1982. There was no looking back in international showbiz thereafter. She went on to feature in TV series like 'The Jewel in the Crown', 'My Beautiful Launderette', 'Tandoori Nights' and 'Never Say Die'.
In pic: Zohra Sehgal with Uday Shankar at the Raja Rani Temple, Odisha.
Zohra came back to India in the 1990s. She was around 80 years old then. While many would have thought she would quit the entertainment world, she was not ready to call it quits. On the small screen, she featured in 'Amma and Family', and bagged roles in big banner movies.
In pic: Zohra Sehgal with Dolly Ahluwalia (extreme left) and others at the shoot of the TV serial, Amma and Family (1995-96).
When it comes to awards, in 1998 Zohra Sehgal was honoured with the Padma Shri, one of India's highest civilian honours, following which she received the Kalidas Samman in 2001. She also won the Sangeet Natak Akademi award in 2004. In 2010, she was bestowed with the Padma Vibhushan. Small parts or big, Zohra continues to spread smiles.
The Film industry lost it's Grand Old Lady - Zohra Sehgal - in Delhi on July 10, 2014. She was 102. Sehgal died of a cardiac arrest.
It's late legendary actress Zohra Sehgal's death anniversary today. A sassy actor, elegant dancer and a dauntless mother - Zohra Sehgal remains one of the most unforgettable artiste Indian cinema will ever see. On her 5th death anniversary, we remember her through a collection of rare pictures...
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