Zohra Sehgal was an Indian actress, dancer, and choreographer. Sehgal started her career as a dancer in Uday Shankar’s troupe, performing in countries such as the United States and Japan. She went on to appear in numerous Bollywood films as a character actress with a career-span of over 60 years.
She was born as Sahibzadi Zohra Begum Mumtaz-Ullah Khan on 27 April 1912 into a traditional Muslim family in Rampur, Uttar Pradesh.
After her husband’s death in 1959, Zohra first moved to Delhi and became director of the newly founded Natya Academy.
In London, Zohra got her first break in films and was signed by Merchant Ivory Productions. She appeared in The Courtesans of Bombay, directed by James Ivory in 1982.
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 longest-living actor to have appeared on Doctor Who, as well as the first centenarian associated with the show.
She 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
In 2008, Zohra Sehgal was named the ‘Laadli of the Century’ by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF)-Laadli Media Awards.
Zohra Sehgal later took to dramatics with the Prithvi Theatre in 1945