Change is the only
constant in the world, and the pioneers of change are the ones that are seen as the guiding light in
every era. This week, BollyCurry brings to you the journey of a woman, who is
not only a source of inspiration to many but also an inexorable force never
seen before - Sahibzadi Zohra Begum Mumtaz-ullah Khan, more commonly known as Zohra Sehgal
Born in a
traditional and conservative family, Sehgal was a rebel when it came to
following the conventional. In times when women held no respectable
stature in society, choosing career over marriage was akin to committing
suicide, but she went ahead with it fearlessly. As a dancer, she first
's troupe in 1935 and worked with him for about a decade. It
here that she met Kameshwar Sehgal and married him, who was not only 8
junior but also a non-Muslim. In 1945, she not only started working
in Prithvi Theatre but also made her film debut with
People's Theatre Association or IPTA's Dharti
in 1946. It was followed by another IPTA movie - Neecha Nagar
which was the first movie
to garner international critical recognition and the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film
inclination towards theatre and dancing was noticeable, although she continued
to appear in films from time to time. She went on to become a choreographer for a few
Hindi films like Baazi (1951) and Awaara (1951).
Sehgal is one of
the first and few celebrities to have tasted international recognition for her
work. She first acted for the British television in a Kipling story adaptation,
The Rescue of Pluffles (1964). There
was no looking back after this as Sehgal went on to star in popular television
series like Doctor Who, Theatre 625, The Expert, Mind Your Language and the likes.
It wasn't until
1982 that Sehgal got her big break in the movie The Courtesans of Bombay directed by James Ivory under the Merchant
Ivory Productions. The movie paved way for more important roles in television series like The Jewel in the Crown, The
Raj Quartet, Tandoori Nights, etc. After her return to India in the 1990s,
she again fell back to her first love - theatre and plays. At the same time, she
actively participated in many films as well.
Sehgal put her
foot in the Bollywood industry around the year 1996. Her first break here was
in the movie Dil Se..
followed by a few other big budget movies like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam
Ho Naa Ho
(2003) [in which her role was edited out], Veer-Zaara
and Cheeni Kum
(2007). Sehgal shook
not only a leg, but the whole screen with her presence in the song "Jiya Jale"
from Dil Se..
Sehgal might've played
significant roles in these movies, but she was overwhelmed when a movie was
made revolving around her character - Chalo
(2002). It is the only Hindi movie which has her playing a
lead role. Sehgal may have started off her career with a Kapoor, but giving it
a closure with a Kapoor as well is what counts. Her last outing was in the Sanjay Leela Bhansali
(2007) along with Ranbir
Kapoor. Sehgal has a few prestigious accolades to her name, like the Padma Shri, the Kalidas
Samman, the Sangeet Natak Akademi and the Padma Vibhushan, which is the
second-highest civilian honour.
Sehgal was not
only an aplomb woman - a girl at heart, but also her life was full of
passion and liveliness. She brought international recognition and
appreciation to Indian Cinema. A rebel at heart, the veteran actress and
set her own benchmark at being adventurous and zealous at whatever she
recently passed away at the age of 102, but not before making sure her
down in history for the woman that she was.
We all are still in awe of Sehgal's vivacious
personality, the energy she oozed and the innocent-yet-naughty twinkle of her
eyes. She has brought laughter to many during the span of her seven
decade long career. BollyCurry hails the actress who soothed people's souls and
prays that her soul may rest in peace.
Writer: Pooja B.
Editors: Ritchelle C. and Gunia K.
Graphics: Komal P.
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