Zohra Sehgal

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Zohra Sehgal

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    Square on the Hypotenuse
    Square on the Hypotenusewrote on 28 Apr 2012

    Actress Zohra Sehgal was born on April 27, 1912 at Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, third of her seven siblings - and grew up in Chakrata, now in Uttarakhand (near Dehra Dun). She began her career as a dancer with Uday Shankar in 1935, and performed across Japan, Egypt, Europe and the United States. She married scientist, painter and dancer Kameshwar Sehgal in August 1942. The couple had two children, Kiran and Pavan.

    Sehgal, who has starred in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Dil Se and Cheeni Kum, was last seen in Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Saawariya (2007).

    Considered the doyenne of Indian theatre, Sehgal acted with the Indian People's Theatre Association and Prithviraj Kapoor's Prithvi Theatre for 14 years.

    She was active in theatre mostly, but also did a few films in between. She choreographed for a few Hindi films as well including Guru Dutt's Baazi (1951) and the dream sequence song in Raj Kapoor's Awaara.

    Sehgal moved to London on a drama scholarship in 1962, and appeared there in many TV productions including The Jewel in the Crown, Tandoori Nights and My Beautiful Laundrette.

    Returning to India in the mid-1990s, Sehgal acted in several films, plays and TV series.

    Her film credits include Masala (1991), Dillagi (1999), Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (2001), Bend it Like Beckham (2002) and Veer-Zaara (2004).

    Known for her feisty spirit and zest for life, Zohra spread smiles with her roles in Sawaariya and Cheeni Kum even at 94.

    Sehgal was awarded the Padma Shri in 1998, the Padma Bhushan (2002) and Padma Vibhushan, the second-highest civilian award, in 2010.

    In 2008, she was named the 'Laadli of the Century' by the United Nations Population Fund - Laadli Media Awards.

    Incidentally, Sehgal's 100th birthday falls in the year when Indian cinema is also celebrating its completion of a century.