MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA MAY 22 , 2012 04.15 P.M.
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 .
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 .
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 .
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 .
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 .
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 .
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 ] .
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 .
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 .
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 !!!
MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA
- Zohra’s century: Grande dame of Indian theatre celebrates 100th birthday with a book on her remarkable life (dailymail.co.uk)
- An evening of love: Zohra celebrates a fun-packed evening (dailymail.co.uk)
- Next Post (niyogibooks.wordpress.com)
Filed under: Film | Tagged: 1st Indian Cinema, Acting Trainer, Afsar, Amitabh Bachchan, Baazi, Bend It Like Beckham, Bollywood, Cannes Film Festival, Centenary Year of Prithvi Raj Kapoor, Cheeni Kum, Chetan Anand, Cinema of India, Dev Anand, Dharti Ke Lal, Diction Trainer, Dil Se, Dillagi, Film, Guru Dutt, Hindi Teacher, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, India, India Cultural Centre Almora, IPTA, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, Kalidas Samman, Kamal Nayan Chaturvedi, Kameshwar Nath Sehgal, Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, Mary Wigmen's Ballet School Germany, Merchant Ivory Productions, Mumbai, MUMBAI - MAHARASHTRA - INDIA, Munshi Premchand, Neecha Nagar, Padma Bhushan, Padma Shri, Padma Vibhushan, Palme d'Ore, Prithvi Raj Kapoor, Prithvi Theatre, Prithvi Theatre Festival, Queen Mary's Girls College Lahore, Raja Harishchandra, Ranbir Kapoor, Saawariya, Sangeet Natak Akademy Fellowship, Tandoori Nights, The Courtesans of Bombay, The Jewel in The Crown, The Mystic Masseur, Uday Shankar, Uday Shankar's Troupe, Uttar Pradesh, Uzra Butt, VEER ZAARA, Vidur, Vidur Chaturvedi, Vidur on Twitter, Vidur's Blog, Vidur's Students, Zohra Segal, Zohra Sehgal |