RIP Zohra Segal

The grand ole dame of Indian movie & television has left us. Indian actress & choreographer Zohra Segal died yesterday at the age of 102 in a New Delhi hospital on July 10, 2014 due to cardiac arrest. Sehgal started her career as a dancer in Uday Shankar’s troupe, performing in countries like the United States and Japan. She went onto appear in numerous Bollywood films as a character actress with a career-span of over 60 years. Considered the doyenne of Indian theatre, she acted with Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) and Prithviraj Kapoor’s Prithvi Theatre for 14 years. She was awarded the Padma Shri in 1998, Kalidas Samman in 2001, and in 2004, the Sangeet Natak Akademi. India’s National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama presented her with its highest award, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime achievement. She received the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honor, in 2010. She has also acted in English-speaking films such as Bend It Like Beckham.

She was born as Sahibzadi Zohra Begum Mumtaz-ullah Khan on 27 April 1912, the 3rd of 7 children, into a traditional Muslim family in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India, to Mumtazullah Khan and Natiqua Begum, belonging to a Rohilla Pathan family of Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, India. She lost her mother while still young and studied at Queen Mary College in Lahore. Upon graduating, her maternal uncle, Sahebzada Saeeduzzafar Khan, who was based in Edinburgh, arranged for her to apprentice under a British actor. She stayed in Dresden for the next three years studying modern dance. On 8 August 1935, she joined Uday Sankar’s dance troupe and danced across Japan, Egypt, Europe and the US, as a leading lady, along with French dancer, Simkie. she became a teacher at the Uday Shankar India Cultural Centre at Almora. It was here that she met her future husband Kameshwar Sehgal, a young scientist, painter and dancer from Indore, eight years her junior, belonging to the Radha Soami sect. There was initial opposition from her parents, but they eventually gave their approval for the union.

After her husband’s death in 1959, Zohra first moved to Delhi and became director of the newly founded Natya Academy. She then moved London on a drama scholarship in 1962. Her first role for British television was in a BBC adaptation of a Kipling story, The Rescue of Pluffles, in 1964. housing loans india She also anchored 26 episodes of BBC TV series, Padosi (Neighbours; 1976–77). She then went on to star in Merchant Ivory film The Courtesan of Bombay & went on to appear in The Raj Quartet, The Jewel in the Crown, Tandoori Nights, My Beautiful Laundrette. In the 90s she returned to India and has acted in short term loans for students uk several Bollywood and English language films with Indian backgrounds. Throughout the majority of her life she has been either agnostic or atheist.

Zohra Sehgal (27 April 1912 – 10 July 2014)

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