The grand old lady of Indian Cinema, Zohra Sehgal — famous for her vivaciousness and enthusiasm — turned 100 on April 27. Sehgal currently resides in Delhi with her daughter, Kiran Sehgal, and the sprightly actor’s zest for life is still intact.
She started her career in 1935 as a leading dancer with the Uday Shankar Ballet Company and traveled the world over. In 1945, she joined Prithviraj Kapoor’s Prithvi Theatre group as an actor on a monthly salary of Rs 400. She worked with him for almost 14 years.
During this period, she married a fellow dancer, Kameshwar Sehgal. After having acted in several plays, she made her film debut in Indian People’s Theatre Association’s (IPTA) first film, Dharti Ke Lal (1946), which was directed by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas.
Her passion for the art won her a drama scholarship in Great Britain in 1962. In the late ’70s she was rediscovered by the makers of British TV shows and films. Following serials such as Jewel in the Crown, My Beautiful Launderette and Tandoori Nights, her sense of humour and candour became very popular. Movies such as Bhaji on the Beach and Merchant Ivory Productions’ The Courtesans of Bombay enhanced her popularity in the West. She returned to India in the ’90s and continued her acting career with TV serials such as Amma and Family. She has also acted in big bollywood block busters including Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Dil Se, Tera Jaadu Chal Gaya and Saawariya.
We wish her many more years of active life.