Sahibzadi Zohra Mumtazullah Khan Begum
27 April 1912
|Died||10 July 2014 102) (aged|
|Occupation||Actress, dancer, choreographer|
|Spouse(s)||Kameshwar Nath Segal|
|Relatives||See Mumtazullah Khan family|
Zohra Mumtaz Sehgal (27 April 1912 – 10 July 2014) was an Indian actress, dancer, and choreographer. Having begun her career as a member of a contemporary dance troupe, she transitioned into acting roles beginning in the 1940s. Sehgal appeared in several British films, television shows, and Bollywood productions in a career that spanned over six decades.
Sehgal's most notable films include Neecha Nagar, Afsar (1946), Bhaji on the Beach (1992), The Mystic Masseur (2001), Bend It Like Beckham (2002), Dil Se.. (1998), Saaya (2003), Saawariya and Cheeni Kum (2007); and the TV serials The Jewel in the Crown (1984), Tandoori Nights (1985–87) and Amma and Family (1996).At the age of 90, she played the central character in the 2002 film Chalo Ishq Ladaaye . Considered the doyenne of Indian theatre, she acted with the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) and Prithviraj Kapoor's Prithvi Theatre for 14 years. She has also acted in English-language films such as Bend It Like Beckham .
Sehgal 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 died in a New Delhi hospital on 10 July 2014 due to cardiac arrest.
Zohra Begum Mumtazullah Khan was born on 27 April 1912 in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India, to Mumtazullah Khan and Natiqua Begum. She was raised in a traditional Muslim household in Chakrata (present-day Uttarakhand) and was the third of seven children—Zakullah, Hajrah, Ikramullah, Uzra (Uzra Butt), Anna and Sabira. Sehgal described herself as a tomboy, who enjoyed climbing trees and playing outdoor games. She lost vision in her left eye when she contracted glaucoma at the age of one. She was referred to a hospital in Birmingham where she was treated at a cost of £300.[ citation needed ]
Following the death of her mother at an early age, Sehgal and her sisters were enrolled at the Queen Mary College, Lahore. Strict purdah was observed at the institute, and men invited to give lectures and seminars were only allowed to do so from behind a screen.Having witnessed her sister's failed marriage, Sehgal decided against getting married herself. Upon graduating, her maternal uncle, Sahebzada Saeeduzzafar Khan, who was based in Edinburgh, arranged for her to apprentice under a British actor. They started from Lahore by car and, en route, crossed Iran and Palestine, before reaching Damascus, Syria, where she met her cousin. Then they traveled into Egypt and caught a boat to Europe in Alexandria.
In Europe, Sehgal's aunt encouraged her to enroll in Mary Wigman's ballet school in Dresden, Germany. Sehgal passed the entrance test without much prior experience in the dance form, and became the first Indian to study at the institution.She stayed in Dresden for the next three years studying modern dance, while living in the house of Countess Liebenstein. A significant turning point came in her life when she met Uday Shankar at a performance of the Shiv-Parvati ballet, which he had choreographed. Shankar promised her a job on her return to India at the completion of her course.
Shankar contacted Sehgal through a telegram, saying, "Leaving for Japan tour. Can you join immediately?"Following that, Sehgal joined his troupe in August 1935. The group toured Japan, Egypt, and several parts of Europe and the United States. Sehgal soon established herself as the lead dancer of the troupe, along with Simkin, a French national. On their return to India in 1940, Sehgal 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.
The two continued to work at the Cultural Centre and established themselves as leading choreographers. During their time in Almora, Kameshwar Sehgal composed a noted ballet for human puppets and choreographed the ballet Lotus Dance.The duo later migrated to Lahore, where they set up their own dance academy, the Zohresh Dance Institute. Following the communal tension preceding the Partition of India, they moved to Bombay, with their one-year-old daughter, Kiran. Sehgal joined the Prithvi Theatre (where her sister, Uzra Butt also worked) in 1945, as an actress with a monthly salary of Rs 400, and toured across India with the group.
Also in 1945, Sehgal joined the theatre group, Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA), acted in several plays, and made her film debut in IPTA's first film production, directed by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, Dharti Ke Lal in 1946; she followed it up with another IPTA-supported film, Neecha Nagar . Directed by Chetan Anand and starring Rafiq Ahmed and Uma Anand, Neecha Nagar was one of the first projects of the parallel cinema movement in the subcontinent. Upon release, the film became a critical success and was screened as such international film festivals as Cannes Film Festival, where it won the Palme d'Or.
During her stay in Bombay, Sehgal became friends with several theatre and film personalities. She continued her association with theatre, appearing in successful productions including Ebrahim Alkazi's Din Ke Andhere (portraying Begum Qudsia) and K.A. Abbas's stage productions for IPTA. She lived in a rented house owned by Chetan and Uma Anand. She also worked as a choreographer for Hindi films, including Guru Dutt's Baazi and Raj Kapoor's Awaara (both 1951).
After her husband's death in 1959, Sehgal moved to Delhi and was appointed as the director of the newly founded Natya Academy. She worked in the same position for about three years. Later in 1962, Sehgal was awarded a drama scholarship, which required her to move to London, United Kingdom. She briefly worked as a dance instructor at a Chelsea-based school run by Bharatanatyam dancer Ram Gopal.Following that, Sehgal made her television debut with a BBC adaptation of a Kipling story The Rescue of Pluffles , in 1964. She went on to appear in one episode of science fiction fantasy series Doctor Who during 1965; the episode that Sehgal worked in, however, is currently lost. She also anchored 26 episodes of BBC TV series, Padosi (Neighbours; 1976–77).
Sehgal's first film role came in 1982, when she was signed by Merchant Ivory Productions. She appeared in the James Ivory-directed The Courtesans of Bombay, which released later that year. This paved the way for an important role as Lady Chatterjee in the television adaptation of The Jewel in the Crown (ITV, 1984). She continued to make sporadic appearances in British films for the next few years, most notably in such productions as The Raj Quartet, The Jewel in the Crown , Tandoori Nights , and My Beautiful Laundrette .
Sehgal returned to India in the mid-1990s and lived for a few months in Burdwan. At that time she acted in several films, plays and TV series. She first performed poetry at a memorial to Uday Shankar organised by his brother, Ravi Shankar in 1983, and soon took to it in big way; she started getting invited to perform poetry at various occasions. She even traveled to Pakistan to recite verses for "An Evening With Zohra". Her impromptu performances of Punjabi and Urdu became a norm. After stage performances she was often requested by the audience to recite Hafeez Jullundhri's famous nazm, Abhi To Main Jawan Hoon.
In 1993, the critically acclaimed play Ek Thi Nani was staged in Lahore for the first time, featuring Zohra and her sister Uzra Butt (who was now staying in Pakistan). A performance of its English version A Granny for All Seasons was held at UCLA in 2001.She became very active in Hindi films in grandmotherly roles from 1996, with frequent appearances in high budget movies such as Dil Se, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Veer Zara, Saawariya and Cheeni Kum. She was 90 when she did the film Chalo Ishq Ladaye in 2002, where she was the central character of the film and Govinda played her grandson. The film Ishq Ladaye had her riding a bike and fighting the villains as well. In 2008, at the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF)-Laadli Media Awards in New Delhi, she was named Laadli of the cCentury, and the award ceremony was presided by the then Chief Minister of Delhi, Sheila Dikshit.
In her career she has acted with heroes across generations - Prithviraj Kapoor, Ashok Kumar, Dev Anand, Govinda, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Ranbir Kapoor.
In 2012, she became the first actor to have appeared on Doctor Who to celebrate their 100th birthday,[ original research? ] and was also the oldest living actor to have appeared on Doctor Who until her death in 2014, after which Olaf Pooley became the oldest living actor to have appeared on the show.[ original research? ] Following her death, she remained the longest-lived actor to have appeared on Doctor Who until 2019, when she was surpassed by Earl Cameron.[ original research? ]
Sehgal married Kameshwar Sehgal, a Hindu, despite some initial reluctance from her father. The ceremony was held on 14 August 1942; Jawaharlal Nehru was to attend the wedding reception, but he was arrested a couple of days earlier for supporting Gandhi's Quit India Movement.
Sehgal had two children; Kiran Segal, who is an Odissi dancer and Pavan Sehgal, who works for the WHO.Kiran Segal, wrote her mother's biography titled Zohra Sehgal: Fatty, which was released in 2012.
On 9 July 2014 she was admitted to the Max Hospital in South Delhi after being diagnosed with pneumonia.She died on 10 July 2014, aged 102, after suffering cardiac arrest. Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tribute to Sehgal on Twitter, describing her as "prolific & full of life," and adding that she "made a mark through her acting which is admired across generations." Also paying tribute, Amitabh Bachchan tweeted that Sehgal was "immensely lovable".
Sehgal was cremated on 11 July at Lodhi Road crematorium, Delhi.She had dictated that upon her death she wanted to be cremated and buried without fuss or problems, and told her family to flush her ashes down the toilet if the crematorium refused to keep them.
|1946||Dharti Ke Lal|
|1964||The Indian Tales of Rudyard Kipling||Fareda / Ameera's mother / Ayah / Mrs. Hauksbee's Ayah||5 episodes|
|1965||Doctor Who||Sheyrah||Episode: "The Knight of Jaffa"|
|1967||The Long Duel||Devi|
|1967||Theatre 625||Amma||Episode: "55 Columns"|
|1968||The Vengeance of She||Putri|
|1968||The Expert||Mrs. Singh||Episode: "Miss Daley"|
|1973||The Regiment||Nanni Ji||Episode: "Women"|
|1973||Tales That Witness Madness||Malia||(segment "Luau")|
|1974||It Ain't Half Hot Mum||Rangi's Mother-in-Law||Episode: "The Road to Bannu"|
|1978||Mind Your Language||Mrs. Singh||Episode: "Many Happy Returns"|
|1983||The Courtesans of Bombay||Maria|
|1984||The Jewel in the Crown||Lili Chatterjee||2 episodes|
|1987||Never Say Die||Gajmukhi||4 episodes|
|1989||Manika, une vie plus tard||Mère de Ranjit|
|1989||The Bill||Mrs. Gunn||2 episodes|
|1990||Mulla Nasiruddin||Old Woman / Story Teller||TV Mini-Series|
|1992–1994||Firm Friends||Suvira Bhatia||8 episodes|
|1993||Bhaji on the Beach||Pushpa|
|1994||Little Napoleons||Jayaben Shah||3 episodes|
|1995||Amma and Family||Amma||TV Series|
|1995||Ek Tha Rusty||TV Series|
|1998||Not a Nice Man to Know||Guest||TV Series|
|1999||Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam||Dadi|
|1999||Dillagi||Ranvir's Grand Mother|
|2000||Tera Jadoo Chal Gayaa||Elderly Lady||(in song "Agre Mein Hai Mashoor")|
|2001||Zindagi Kitni Khoobsoorat Hai||Dadi||TV Series|
|2001||The Mystic Masseur||Auntie|
|2001||Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham||Rahul n Rohan's Dadi|
|2002||Bend It Like Beckham||Biji|
|2002||Anita and Me||Nanima|
|2002||Chalo Ishq Ladaaye||Dadi|
|2003||Kal Ho Naa Ho|
|2004||Kaun Hai Jo Sapno Mein Aaya?|
|2005||Chicken Tikka Masala||Grandmother|
|2005||The Mistress of Spices||First Mother|
|2007||Cheeni Kum||Mrs. Gupta|
|2007||Saawariya||Lilian Ji aka Lilipop||(final film role)|
On 29 September 2020, Google commemorated the anniversary of the release of her 1946 film, Neecha Nagar , (on this day, the film released at the Cannes International Film Festival), with a Doodle. The accompanying write-up says, "Among Sehgal’s notable early work was a role in the film “Neecha Nagar“ ("Lowly City"), which was released on this day in 1946 at the Cannes Film Festival. Widely considered Indian cinema's first international critical success, "Neecha Nagar" won the festival's highest honor: the Palme d’Or prize."
Prithviraj Kapoor was an Indian actor, film producer, director, writer and politician who started his career in the silent era of Hindi cinema. He was associated with IPTA as one of its founding members and who founded the Prithvi Theatres, a travelling theatre company based in Mumbai, in 1944. He was the patriarch of the Kapoor family of Hindi films, four generations of which, beginning with him, have played active roles in the Hindi film industry, with two generations still active in Bollywood. He's also acted in a Kannada movie Sākshatkāra. However, his father, Basheshwar Nath Kapoor, also played a short role in his movie Awara. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan in 1969 and the Dadasaheb Phalke Award in 1971 for his contributions towards Indian cinema.
Uday Shankar was an Indian dancer and choreographer, best known for creating a fusion style of dance, adapting European theatrical techniques to Indian classical dance, imbued with elements of Indian classical, folk, and tribal dance, which he later popularised in India, Europe, and the United States in 1920s and 1930s. He was a pioneer of modern dance in India.
Surinder Kaur was an Indian singer and songwriter. While she mainly sang Punjabi folk songs, where she is credited for pioneering and popularising the genre, Kaur also recorded songs as a playback singer for Hindi films between 1948 and 1952. For her contributions to punjabi music, she earned the sobriquet Nightingale of Punjab, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1984, and the Padma Shri in 2006.
Arundhati Nag is an Indian film and theatre actress. She has been involved with multilingual Theatre in India, for over 25 years, first in Mumbai where she got involved with Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA), and did various productions in Gujarati, Marathi, and Hindi theatre, and then in Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and English, in Bangalore.
Neecha Nagar is a 1946 Indian Hindi-language film, directed by Chetan Anand, written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and Hayatullah Ansari, and produced by Rashid Anwar. It was a pioneering effort in social realism in Indian cinema and paved the way for many such parallel cinema films by other directors, many of them also written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. It starred Chetan Anand's wife Uma Anand, with Rafiq Ahmed, Kamini Kaushal, Rafi Peer, Hamid Butt, and Zohra Sehgal. Neecha Nagar was a Hindi film adaptation in an Indian setting of Maxim Gorky's 1902 play The Lower Depths.
Habib Tanvir was one of the most popular Indian Urdu, Hindi playwrights, a theatre director, poet and actor. He was the writer of plays such as, Agra Bazar (1954) and Charandas Chor (1975). A pioneer in Urdu and Hindi theatre, he was most known for his work with Chhattisgarhi tribals, at the Naya Theatre, a theatre company he founded in 1959 in Bhopal. He went on to include indigenous performance forms such as nacha, to create not only a new theatrical language, but also milestones such as Charandas Chor, Gaon ka Naam Sasural, Mor Naam Damad and Kamdeo ka Apna Basant Ritu ka Sapna.
N. Rajam is an Indian violinist who performs Hindustani classical music. She remained professor of Music at Banaras Hindu University, eventually became head of the department and the dean of the Faculty of Performing Arts of the University.
Chandralekha Prabhudas Patel, commonly known as just Chandralekha, was a dancer and choreographer from India. The niece of Vallabhbhai Patel, India's first deputy Prime Minister, she was an exponent of performances fusing Bharatanatyam with Yoga and martial arts like Kalarippayattu.
Shanta Kalidas Gandhi was an Indian theatre director, dancer and playwright who was closely associated with IPTA, the cultural wing of the Communist Party of India. She studied with Indira Gandhi at a residential school in the early 1930s, and remained close to the prime minister in later life. She received many government awards and sinecures under the Indira Gandhi administration, including the Padma Shri (1984) and being made chairperson of the National School of Drama (1982–84).
Uzra Butt nee Mumtaz was a theatre personality of the Indian Subcontinent, who moved to Pakistan in 1964. She was the sister of theatre and Bollywood film actress Zohra Sehgal, who, unlike her, lived in India.
Tripti Mitra was a popular Indian actress of Bengali theatre and films, and wife of Sombhu Mitra, noted theatre director, with whom she co-founded pioneering theatre group Bohurupee in 1948. She has acted in films like Jukti Takko Aar Gappo and Dharti Ke Lal.
Sundari K. Shridharani was the founder and director of Triveni Kala Sangam, a multi-arts institution, which she established in 1950.
Uma Anand was an Indian journalist, actress, and a broadcaster in the mid-1900s.
Tapas Sen was a noted Indian stage lighting designer, who was an important figure in 20th-century Indian theatre. He started working with Bengali theatre movement in Kolkata in the late 1940s, along with noted directors, Utpal Dutt and Shambhu Mitra. Later he became a founding member of the Indian People's Theatre Association's (IPTA), Delhi chapter, and worked closely with Hindi theatre. Through his career stretching five decades he worked theatre directors, Ebrahim Alkazi, Vijay Tendulkar, and also dancers Sadhana Bose, Chandralekha, Birju Maharaj and Kelucharan Mahapatra. He was known not only for his creative stage lighting, but also had a significant impact on the work of leading theatre director of the time.
B. Jayashree is a veteran Indian theatre actress, director and singer, who has also acted in films and television and worked as dubbing artist in films. She is the creative director of Spandana Theatre, an amateur theatre company based in Bangalore, established in 1976.
Madras Kadiravelu Saroja, is an Indian classical dancer, known for her expertise, as an exponent and as a teacher, in the classical dance form of Bharatanatyam. The Government of India honored her, in 2011, with the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award, for her services to the field of art and culture.
Haobam Ongbi Ngangbi Devi was an Indian classical dancer and musician, known for her expertise in the Manipuri Dance forms of Lai Haraoba and Raas. In 2010, the Government of India awarded Haobam Ongbi Ngangbi Devi the Padma Shri, the fourth highest Indian civilian award.
Rita Ganguly is an exponent in the Indian classical arts. An accomplished dancer, musician and vocalist, she was honoured with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 2000 and with the Padma Shri in 2003. She is the mother of actress Meghna Kothari and the of younger sister of the famous Ravindra Sangeet singer Gita Ghatak.
Sheila Bhatia was an Indian poet, playwright, theatre personality and the founder of Delhi Art Theatre, a forum based in Delhi for the promotion of Indian art forms. Punjabi opera, an Indian form of dance drama incorporating operatic movements, is reported to have been originated by her. She was honoured by the Government of India in 1971 with Padma Shri, the fourth highest Indian civilian award. A decade later, she received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for theatre direction in 1982 followed by Kalidas Samman in 1997.
Narendra Sharma was an Indian dancer and choreographer. He was trained in Uday Shankar's school of modern dance. He is regarded as a pioneer in modern Indian dance. For his contributions to the field, he received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Contemporary Choreography in 1976.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Zohra Sehgal .|