Zohra Sahgal : A Glorious Century of Life


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           MAY 22 , 2012           04.15 P.M.

100 Years Old Zohra Segai

100 Years Old Zohra Sehgal

Zohra Sehgal , the legendary film and theatre actor , recently completed 100 years of her momentous life . It is fascinating to know that she is as old as Indian cinema . She , in fact , is a year older . She was born in Saharanpur , Uttar Pradesh in 1912 . And the first Indian cinema ” Raja Harishchandra ” was made and released in 1913 in Mumbai . So she precedes Indian cinema and is still among us .

Map showing location of district in Uttar Prad...

Map showing location of U.P. in India & Saharanpur district in Uttar Pradesh

She was born as Zohra Mumtaz Ullah Khan in an orthodox Muslim aristocratic family and went to Queen Mary’s Girls College , Lahore and later on to Mary Wigmen’s ballet school in Dresden , Germany . There she was trained in modern dance and was the first Indian to get trained at that school . She stayed there for couple of years and fortunately met Uday Shankar there , who was travelling Europe at that time with his troupe .

While still in Europe , she was invited by Uday Shankar to join his troupe . She joined legendary dancer’s troupe in 1935 and worked with him for 8 long years . Along with his troupe , she toured Japan , Egypt , Europe and U. S. A. Later on she became a teacher in Uday Shankar’s India Cultural Centre at Almora .

Uday Shankar (1900-1977), noted Indian dancer,...

Uday Shankar (1900-1977), noted Indian dancer, here seen in a 1930s photograph

The Uday Shankar Ballet Troupe, ca (1935-37). ...

The Uday Shankar Ballet Troupe, ca (1935-37). Also seen at the bottom left Zohra Segal

Zohra Sehgal In Uday Shankar's Troupe

Zohra Sehgal In Uday Shankar’s Troupe

She met her future husband Kameshwar Nath Sehgal at the Uday Shankar’s India Cultural Centre  and married him against the wishes of her orthodox family and  hence , she came to be known as Zohra Sehgal . She has a daughter Kiran and a son Pavan , who is married to the grand – daughter of Munshi Premchand , the renowned Hindi writer .

Young Zohra Sehgal

Young Zohra Sehgal

Later on , she migrated to Bombay [ now Mumbai ] with her family and started working with Prithvi Raj Kapoor’s Prithvi Theatre in 1945  , where her sister Uzra Butt was already working . She essayed many roles in his plays . She was a major star of Prithvi theatre . She also worked with Indian People’s Theatre Association [ IPTA ] for 14 long years .

Zohra Sehgal

Zohra Sehgal

Prithvi Theatre Festival 06, commemorating the...

Prithvi Theatre Festival 2006 , commemorating the Birth Centenary of Prithviraj Kapoor

She made her screen debut with IPTA’s first film production ” Dharti Ke Lal ” [ 1946 ] , a film directed by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas . This followed by ” Neecha Nagar ” [ 1946 ] , directed by Chetan Anand . incidentally ” Neecha Nagar “ became the first Indian film to win Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival . Later on she worked in ” Afsar ” [ 1950 ] , first film of Dev Anand’s banner Navketan and ” Baazi ” [ 1951 ] , a film directed by Guru Dutt .

Poster of Dharti Ke Lal

Poster of Dharti Ke Lal

Neecha Nagar

Neecha Nagar

After her husband’s death in 1959 , Zohra Sehgal moved to Delhi and then to London and worked in films like ” The Courtesans of Bombay ” [ 1983 ] , a Merchant Ivory Productions . ” The Jewel in The Crown ” [ 1984 ] and ” Tandoori Nights ” [ 1985 ] are her famous TV role .

Cover of

Cover of The Courtesans of Bombay

The Courtesans of Bombay

The Courtesans of Bombay

In mid 90s , she again returned to India and started her second innings with films like ; ” Dil Se ” [ 1998 ] . ” Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam ” [ 1999 ] , ” Dillagi ” [ 1999 ] , ” Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham ” [ 2001 ] , ” The Mystic Masseur ” [ 2001 ] , ” Bend It Like Beckham ” [ 2002 ] , ” Veer – Zaara ” [ 2004 ] ” Cheeni Kum ” [ 2007 ] and ” Saawariya ” [ 2007 ] .

Poster of Dil Se

Poster of Dil Se

Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

Poster of Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam

Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham...

Poster of Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

Poster of Veer - Zaara

Poster of Veer – Zaara

Poster of Cheeni Kum

Poster of Cheeni Kum

Poster of Saawariya

Poster of Saawariya

With Ranbir Kapoor in Saawariya

With Ranbir Kapoor in Saawariya

With Amitabh Bachchan in Cheeni Kum

With Amitabh Bachchan in Cheeni Kum

She won many awards in her long and chequered career . She got Padma Shri in 1998 , Padma Bhushan in 2002 and Padma Vibhushan in 2010 . She also received Kalidas Samman in 2001 and Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship in 2004 for lifetime achievement .

Zohra Sehgal Receiving Padma Vibhushan in 2010

Zohra Sehgal Receiving Padma Vibhushan in 2010

It is fascinating to complete 100 years of one’s life and 61 years of active film and stage career . She started her career on stage in 1945 at Prithvi Theatre . So from 1945 to 2006 , when she appeared on stage again for the Centenary Year celebration of Prithvi Raj Kapoor , it is 61 – year – long stage career .

From ” Dharti Ke Lal ” and ” Neecha Nagar ” [ 1946 ] to ” Cheeni Kum ” and ” Saawariya ” [ 2007 ] , it is again 61 – year – long career in films .

She joined Uday Shankar’s troupe in 1935 . And her last two appearances on-screen ; ” Cheeni Kum “ and ” Saawariya ” came in 2007 . So it becomes incredible 72 – year – long career in fine arts .

She has another distinction to her credit . She worked with Prithvi Raj Kapoor in 1945 . And then she worked with his great grandson Ranbir Kapoor in 2007 . I think this is un – paralleled in the history of world cinema . She beautifullybridged the gap of 62 years and 4 generations .

Her life and achievements are amazing . I have trained Ranbir Kapoor for ” Saawariya ” . So I feel a sense of attachment to the legendary Zohra Sehgal because she was also associated with the film . I feel blessed .

100th Birthday Celebration of Zohra Sehgal

100th Birthday Celebration of Zohra Sehgal

See the photograph posted above . See her zest and vigour . Her energy is infectious . Her impish smile is intact .

I pray for her long life . May she out – live me also . Amen !!!

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

www.vidur.co.in

www.vidurfilms.com

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