Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zohra Sehgal - Age, Young Photos, Biography, Movies, Interview

Zohra Sehgal is 100 years old. We take you through her movies, her life, her biography, Zohra Sehgal young photos, interview and her famous quote.  She was born on April 27, 1912 at Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India as Zohra Mumtaz (Sahibzadi Zohra Begum Mumtaz-ullah Khan'), the third sibling in a family of seven children.

Zohra Sehgal biography

When she was just one year old, Zohra lost vision in her left eye due to glaucoma. She was treated at a hospital in Birmingham at a whopping cost of £300,000 for the surgery. Since she came from a land-owning family of Rohilla Pathans, the cost was not a deterrent.

Born in a Muslim family, she was brought up as a devout Sunni Muslim. A complete tomboy, she would indulge in games and climbing trees. Zohra lost her mother when she was very young. As was her mother’s wish, Zohra and her sister attended Queen Mary’s Girls College at Lahore known for its elite and sophisticated education in those days.

Zohra decided that she would rather pursue a career than get married, after seeing her sister struggling in a troubled marriage. Once she completed her graduation, her uncle Sahebzada Saeeduzzafar Khan based in Edinburgh asked her to come abroad to study as apprentice under a British actor. Her maternal uncle and she set off in the car from Lahore en route to Iran and from there to Palestine and then to Damascus (Syria) where she met her cousin. From, there, they set off on a journey to Egypt and then took a boat to Europe (Alexandria).

Once in Alexandria, Zohra took leave of her burqa forever and decided to take up a career as a dancer. Help came in the form of aunt Dicta who took her to Mary Wigman’s ballet school in Dresden, Germany. She became the first Indian to learn dancing at that institution. Zohra learnt modern dancing for three years in Dresden, while staying in the house of Countess Liebenstein.

Uday Singh, the famous Indian dancer of that time, happened to be touring Europe. Zohra watched the Shiv-Parvati ballet dance by him and was spell-bound. She met Uday Shankar backstage who promised her to give her a job when she would return to India, after she completed her course.

While still in Europe, Zohra received a telegram from Uday Shankar: "Leaving for Japan tour. Can you join immediately?" She joined his troupe on August 8, 1935 and after that they performed in Europe, Egypt, USA and Japan. Her pairing with a French dancer Simkie turned to be a celebrated one. Once in India, Zohra became a dance teacher at the Uday Shankar Indian Cultural Center at Almora. Here, she met Kameshwar Saigal, a young scientist, dancer and painter from Indore, who belonged to Radha Swami Sect. They fell in love and wanted to marry but faced initial opposition on both sides from their parents. Finally, the parents gave in and they married on August 14, 1942. Jawarharlal Nehru was supposed to attend the wedding but he was arrested two days ago for being a part of Mahatma Gandhi’s Quit India Movement.

Zohra and Kameshwar Sehgal raised two children, Kiran and Pavan. The couple actively worked in the dance institute and trained other dancers too. However, the dance institute shut down and Zohra and her husband migrated to Lahore with kids and set up Zohresh Dance Institute.

The partition struggle reared its ugly head in their lives too and they came back to Bombay. By now, Zohra’s sister Uzra Butt(died 2010, age 93) became the leading lady in Prithviraj Kapoor's Prithvi Theatre. Zohra too joined Prithvi Theatre in 1945, as an actress with a monthly salary of Rs 400. The group travelled across various parts of India and performed with Zohra as one of their most active members for the next 14 years.
Meanwhile Zohra Sehgal also became a part of the IPTA theatre group, a leftist theater group, where she performed many plays and even debuted in a movie called ‘Dharti Ke Lal’ in 1946, directed by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. Her second film was also IPTA sponsored, Chetan Anand's Neecha Nagar. The movie became the first Indian film to achieve critical worldwide recognition and won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival.

Zohra mainly concentrated on theater and did a few films in between. She did choreography for a few hIndi films. Very few people now know that Zohra Sehgal choreographed Guru Dutt's Baazi (1951) and the dream sequence song in Raj Kapoor's film Awaara. Kameshwar, on the other hand, became an art director and also tried directing a few Hindi films.

Zohra loved theater so much that she even put up plays for jail inmates at Ferozepur jail. It is said that after staging a play, she stayed back to watch an execution.

Kameshwar died in 1959 and Zohra moved to Delhi and became director of Natya Academy. She then went to London and did more theater, teaching dance at an Indian born Bharatnatyam dancer Ram Gopal’s dancing school in Chelsea. She was then signed for a British TV program based on a Kipling story, The Rescue of Pluffles, in 1964. She also anchored BBC TV series Padosi (Neighbours) from 1976-77.

Zohra was signed by Merchant Ivory Productions and appeared in The Courtesans of Bombay directed by James Ivory in 1982. She had a defining role as Lady Chatterjee in the television adaptation The Jewel in the Crown in 1984. She was now doing more movies and TV shows like The Raj Quartet, The Jewel in the Crown, Tandoori Nights, My Beautiful Laundrette and others.

Zohra came back to India in 1995 and dabbled in TV shows, plays and movies including Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999). The critically acclaimed, Ek Thi Nani (1993), was staged in Lahore for the first time, featuring Zohra and her sister Uzra Butt who was staying in Pakistan. The play was an evocative real-life story based on the lives of Zohra and Uzra, who were separated by the Partition of India in 1947 and re-united only in the late 1980s, after a gap of 40 years

Zohra Sehgal stays in Delhi with her daughter Kiran Sehgal an Odissi dancer. Her son Pavan, who works for WHO, married the grand-daughter of Munshi Premchand; Seema Rai; and have three children. Zohra Sehgal is an agnostic and was an atheist in her youth.

Zohra Sehgal Movies and TV shows

1946 Dharti Ke Lal
1946 Neecha Nagar
1950 Afsar
1956 Heer
1964 The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling
1964–1965 Doctor Who (TV series)
1967 The Long Duel
1967 Theatre 625 (TV series)
1968 The Vengeance of She
1968 The Expert (TV series)
1969 The Guru
1973 The Regiment (TV series)
1973 Tales That Witness Madness
1974 It Ain't Half Hot Mum (TV series)
1978 Mind Your Language (TV series)
1983 The Courtesans of Bombay
1984 The Jewel in the Crown (TV series)
1985 Tandoori Nights (TV series)
1985 Harem
1986 Caravaggio
1987 Partition
1987 Never Say Die
1989 Manika, une vie plus tard
1989 The Bill
1991 Masala
1992 Firm Friends
1993 Bhaji on the Beach
1994 Little Napoleons
1995 Amma and Family (TV series)
1997 Tamanna
1998 Not a Nice Man to Know
1998 Dil Se..
1999 Khwaish
1999 Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
1999 Dillagi
2000 Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa
2001 Landmark
2001 Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham
2001 Zindagi Kitni Khoobsoorat Hai
2001 The Mystic Masseur
2002 Bend it Like Beckham
2002 Anita and Me
2002 Chalo Ishq Ladaaye
2003 Saaya
2004 Kaun Hai Jo Sapno Mein Aaya?
2004 Veer-Zaara
2005 Chicken Tikka Masala
2005 Mistress of Spices
2007 Cheeni Kum
2007 Saawariya

Zohra Sehgal Awards

Here are the awards won by Zohra Sehgal :

1963 Sangeet Natak Akademi Award[26]
1998: Padma Shri[27]
2001: Kalidas Samman
2002: Padma Bhushan
2004: Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship
2010: Padma Vibhushan

Zohra Sehgal who was born one year before Indian cinema, is every bit entertaining and vibrant as the movie industry itself. In 2008, she was named the 'Laadli of the Century' by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF)-Laadli Media Awards. R. Balki who shot Cheeni Kum where Zohra played the role of Amitabh Bachchan’s mother says, "During the shooting of 'Cheeni Kum', we celebrated her birthday on the sets. She shot with us even in 42 degrees at Qutub Minar (in Delhi). She was full of life and didn't care about the heat and went on dancing. She is awesome,"

In 1994, Zohra was diagnosed with cancer but she was able to fight it too. A source says, "She is in fine health barring a few age-related complications, which are not serious; Her spirit is still high, along with her enthusiastic, articulate persona,"

It is believed that Zohra Sehgal would celebrate her birthday with her daughter, grandchildren and a few close friends from her arts and theater group. Zohra Sehgal has worked from Prithviraj Kapoor to Raj Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor and Ranbir Kapoor, spanning across four generations of Bollywood’s famous Kapoor family. Age has really proven to be just a number for her. Another thing that has always remained intact in Zohra Sehgal’s personality is her irrepressible sense of humor. Her self-deprecating yet charming quote remains, "You are seeing me now, when I am old and ugly. You should have seen me then, when I was young and ugly.”

Zohra Sehgal photos

Zohra Sehgal interview


Post a Comment

Recent Comments