RIP Zohra Sehgal, 1912-2014: A friend and lifelong fan pays tribute to ‘the begum of peerless chutzpah’

 

Actress Zohra Sehgal has passed away at the age of 102Actress Zohra Sehgal has passed away at the age of 102

Born as Sahibzadi Zohra Begum Mumtazullah Khan, she started out as an actor with Chetan Anand’s Neecha Nagar.

She played Shah Rukh Khan’s grandmother in Dil Se, and Amitabh Bachchan’s mother in Cheeni Kum.

I have always referred to Zohraji as ammi, because she pampered me while I visited the sets where she would shoot for my father’s films.

It was impossible not to get inspired by her energy. She always celebrated her life, and now that she is gone, we should rejoice that she led a complete one which was full of zest.

 Besides Zohraji, the only other person who matched her energy was my uncle, actor-filmmaker Dev Anand.

 Last I met her at her residence in New Delhi, where I went to shoot some portions of a documentary on my dad Chetan Anand. While I was breathless, Zohraji climbed the stairs in no time.

Her sharp memory even at 101 was amazing. She gave me some important inputs on my father’s films and his style of film-making. She remembered almost every single detail on films that she worked in.

She worked as choreographer in films like Raj Kapoor’s Awara and Guru Dutt’s Baazi. She was rightly called the doyenne of theatre, as she started out with Prithvi Theatres, and continued her romance with the stage till the end.

The entire stage was her playground, where she would give youngsters a run for their money in dance and right expression.

She will be remembered for her mischievous smile, the twinkle in her eyes, and her zest for life that retained her creativity till the very end.

Zohra's long and illustrious career saw her feted as the doyenne of Indian theatre

Zohra’s long and illustrious career saw her feted as the doyenne of Indian theatre.

She was also a celebrated dancer, who worked as a choreographer on films including Raj Kapoor's Awara and Guru Dutt's Baazi.

She was also a celebrated dancer, who worked as a choreographer on films including Raj Kapoor’s Awara and Guru Dutt’s Baazi.

 

 

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