Early Life of Zohra Segal
Zohra Segal was also a great dancer. She was born in Saharanpur. Zohra Segal came from a conservative Muslim family. She had a rebellious nature from her childhood and always wanted to do things she was not supposed to be doing. At the age of 18, she went to Germany to study dance at Mary Wigman's School of Dance in Mary Wigman's ballet in Dresden. Returning on completion of the training, she joined Uday Shankar's dance centre in Almora and soon became one of his leading performers, accompanying the troupe on its tours through Asia, Europe, and America. She married Kameshwar Segal, a co-dancer, in 1942. After some time they moved to Mumbai with their own troupe, Zoresh.
Career of Zohra Segal
Zohra Segal joined Prithvi Theatres as a dance teacher in 1945 but soon proved her worth as a powerful lead actress too in their path-breaking plays Diwar, Pathan, and Gaddar. She stayed with them till 1959. She served as Vice-Chairman of the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) and principal of Delhi Natya Academy for four years. Then she left for a long spell in London and Europe, working in theatre at the Old Vic and British Drama League, radio, and films. Meanwhile she won the first Sangeet Natak Akademi award for Urdu theatre, in 1963. On finally coming back to India, she settled in Burdwan District of West Bengal. She first executed poetry at a memorial to Uday Shankar organised by his brother, Ravi Shankar in 1983. From there she started getting invitations to perform poetry at various occasions. She even travelled to Pakistan to recite verses for "An Evening with Zohra". Her unrehearsed performances of Punjabi language and Urdu language 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 and made a comeback on stage, acting in Din ke andhere i.e. "Darkness of Day" in 1992. Still active in theatre, she also performs for cinema and television, and joined her sister Uzra Butt on the Pakistani production Ek Thi Nani or 'There Was a Granny' in 1998. As an actress Zohra Segal proved herself in both tragic and comic roles.
Personal life of Zohra Segal
Zohra Segal married Kameshwar Nath Segal. Zohra Segal till her death was based in New Delhi. Later, she married to an Odissi dancer named Kiran Segal. She has a son named Pavan, who works for World Health Organisation (WHO), and married Seema Rai, the granddaughter of Munshi Premchand, and the couple have three children Rohan, Taamra and Anushka. Having been an atheist in her youth, she is an agnostic.
Filmography of Zohra Segal
Zohra Segal appeared in many modern Hindi commercial films like Dil Se, Bend it Like Beckham and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. She also appeared in British TV serials like The Jewel in the Crown. The last appearance of Zohra Segal on screen in Saawariya, released in the year 2007, aged 90 plus. Through out her career, Zohra Segal has acted with heroes across generations like Prithviraj Kapoor, Ashok Kumar, Dev Anand, Govinda, Sharukh Khan, Salman Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Ranbir Kapoor. In 2012, Zohra Segal became the longest-living actor to have appeared on Doctor Who, as well as the first centenarian associated with the show.
As An Actor
Zohra Segal made her film debut in Dharti Ke Lal (1946), and also starred in Neecha Nagar, the film that won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes International Film Festival. Early on, she choreographed dance series for movies such as Raj Kapoor's Awara. She continued her working with devotion and dedication when her husband died. She later moved to New Delhi working as director at the Natya Academy.
Awards Received by Zohra Segal
On her 100th birthday, the daughter of Zohra Segal, Kiran released a book in her name, titled Zohra Segal - Fatty. A perfectionist woman of routine and discipline, Zohra Segal died on July 10, 2014 at the age of 102.