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Zohra Sehgal All Details Biography: Birth, Age, Death, Family, Career, Films, Recognitions, Google Doodle


 Indian actress, dancer and choreographer Zohra Sehgal got featured on Google Doodle today. She was paid a special tribute by the search engine as on this day in the year 1946, her film ‘Neech Nagar’ won the Palme d’Or Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Let us know more about the legendary actress below.

Zohra Sehgal was born on April 27, 1912, in Uttar Pradesh’s Sharanpur as Sahibzaadi Begum Zohra Mumtazullah Khan. She was the third child of the seven children and was brought up in a traditional Muslim family. 

She was admitted to Queen Mary College, Lahore where strict purdah was observed. Men were allowed to give guest lectures and seminars from behind the screen. After her graduation, Zohra moved to Europe. Her aunt in Europe encouraged her to join Mary Wigman’s ballet school in Germany. She passed the entrance examination becoming the first Indian to study at the institution. She studied modern dance for the next three years. During her dance course, she met Uday Shankar at a performance of the Shiv-Parvati ballet. This became a turning point in her life as Uday Shankar promised her a job after the completion of her course and return to India.  


In August 1935, Sehgal joined Uday Shankar’s troupe after receiving a telegram. The group toured several nations, establishing Zohra Sehgal as the lead dancer. On their return to India, Uday Shankar offered her a job as promised. In 1940, Shegal started teaching at the Uday Shankar India Cultural Centre, Almora. At the Cultural Centre, Zohra met Kameshwar Sehgal and the duo established themselves as the lead choreographers.

 After a few years, the two of them migrated to Lahore and set up their own dance academy with the name ‘Zohresh Dance Institute’. Prior to the partition of India, the couple moved to Bombay with their one-year-old daughter, Kiran. 

Zohra joined the Prithvi Theatre in Bombay. In 1945, she joined  Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), where she acted in several plays and her debut movie ‘Dharti Ke Lal’. Following this, she acted in ‘Neech Nagar’ which bought her International fame. 

She also rendered her services as a choreographer in Bollywood movies. Following her husband’s death, Sehgal moved to Delhi and joined Natya Academy as a director. 

In 1962, she was awarded a drama scholarship, requiring her to move London. She made her TV debut with BBC adaptation of a Kipling story The Rescue of Pluffles. She also appeared in an episode of science fiction series ‘Doctor Who’. Sehgal also anchored BBC TV Series ‘Padosi’. 

She acted in various films and TV series such as ‘The Courtesans of Bombay’, ‘The Jewel in the Crown’, ‘Tandoori Nights’, and ‘My Beautiful Laundrette’.

Zohra returned to India in the mid-1990s and performed poetry at a memorial to Uday Shankar, organised by his brother Ravi Shankar. Soon after her performance at the memorial, she started getting invitations to perform poetry. She was also invited to Pakistan where she recited the versed for ‘An Evening with Zohra’. 

In 1993, she performed with her sister Uzra Butt in a play ‘Ek Thi Nani’. The English version of the same was held at UCLA in 2001 with the title ‘A Granny for All Seasons’. She appeared in grandmotherly roles in various Bollywood movies such as Dil Se, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Veer Zara, Saawariya and Cheeni Kum.

In 2008, UNPF-Laadli Media Awards were held in New Delhi, where she was named Laadli of the Century. 

Zohra Sehgal: Interesting Facts

1- Zohra has acted with heroes across generations– Prithviraj Kapoor, Ashok Kumar, Dev Anand, Govinda, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Ranbir Kapoor.

2- In the year 2012, she became the first actor to have appeared on BBC’s ‘Doctor Who’ to celebrate their 100th birthday. She also became the oldest living actor to have appeared on the show. After her death in 2014, she was surpassed by Olaf Pooley as the oldest living actor to have appeared on the show.

3- She also became the longest-lived actor to have appeared on BBC’s ‘Doctor Who’ until her death in 2014. After her death, she was surpassed by Earl Cameron.  

Zohra Sehgal: Personal Life

Zohra and Kameshwar Sehgal met at the Uday Shankar India Cultural Centre. Kameshwar Sehgal was a young scientist, painter and a dancer from Indore. Zohra was eight years older than her husband. The duo married on August 14, 1942.  The couple gave birth to two children– Kiran Sehgal and Pavan Sehgal. Kameshwar died in the year 1959. Kiran Sehgal is an Odissi dancer while Pavan Sehgal works for WHO. 

Zohra Sehgal: Death

On July 9, 2014, after being diagnosed with pneumonia, Zohra was admitted to Max Hospital in South Delhi. A day later, on July 10, 2014, at the age of 102, Zohra died due to a cardiac arrest. Prime Minister Modi paid a tribute to her via Twitter and described her as ‘prolific and full of life’. 

Zohra was cremated on July 11 at the Lodhi Road crematorium, Delhi. Prior to her death, she stated that she wanted to be cremated and buried without any fuss. She further directed them that if the crematorium refused to keep her ashed, the family must flush her ashes down the toilet. 

Zohra Sehgal: Films

1- Ragheer in 1943
2- Neecha Nagar in 1946
3- Dharti Ke Lal in 1946
4- Afsar in 1950
5- Fareb in 1953
6- Heer in 1956
7- Paisa in 1957
8- The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling in 1964
9- Doctor Who in 1965
10- The Long Duel in 1967
11- Theatre 625 in 1967
12- The Vengeance of She in 1968
13- The Expert in 1968
14- The Guru in 1969
15- The Regiment in 1973
16- Tales That Witness Madness in 1973
17- It Ain’t Half Hot Mum in 1974
18- Mind Your Language in 1978
19- The Courtesans of Bombay in 1983
20- The Jewel in the Crown in 1984
21- Tandoori Nights in 1985
22- Harem in 1985
23- Caravaggio in 1986
24- Partition in 1987
25- Never Say Die in 1987
26- Manika, une vie plus tard in 1989
27- The Bill in 1989
28- Masala in 1991
29- Mulla Nasiruddin in 1990
30- Firm Friends from 1992 to 1994
31- Bhaji on the Beach in 1993
32- Little Napoleons in 1994
33- Amma and Family in 1995
34- Ek Tha Rusty in 1995
35- Tamanna in 1998
36- Dil Se.. in 1998
37- Not a Nice Man to Know in 1998
38- Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam in 1999
39- Dillagi in 1999
40- Khwaish in 1999
41- Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa in 2000
42- Zindagi Kitni Khoobsoorat Hai in 2001
43- The Mystic Masseur in 2001
44- Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham in 2001
45- Landmark in 2001
46- Bend It Like Beckham in 2002
47- Anita and Me in 2002
48- Chalo Ishq Ladaaye in 2002
49- Saaya in 2003
50- Ka Ho Na Ho in 2003
51- Kaun Hai Jo Sapno Mein Aaya? in 2004
52- Veer-Zaara in 2004
53- Chicken Tikka Masala in 2005
54- The Mistress of Spices in 2005
55- Cheeni Kum in 2007
56- Saawariya in 2007

Zohra Sehgal: Awards

1- In 1963, she was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award. 

2- In 1998, Zohra was honoured with India’s fourth-highest civilian award, Padma Shri.

3- In 2001, she was awarded Kalidas Samman. 

4- In 2002, she was honoured with India’s third-highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan. 

5- In 2004, she received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship. 

6- In 2010, Zohra was honoured with India’s second-highest civilian award, Padma Vibhushan. 

Category : Meniya
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