Zohra Mumtaz Sehgal (27 April 1912 – 10 July 2014) was an Indian actress, dancer, and choreographer. Having began her career as a member of a contemporary dance troupe, she transitioned into acting roles beginning in the 1940s. Sehgal appeared in several British films, television shows, and Bollywood productions in a career that spanned over six decades. Among Segal’s notable early work was a role in the film “Neecha Nagar“ (“Lowly City”), which was released on this day in 1946 at the Cannes Film Festival. Widely considered Indian cinema’s first international critical success, “Neecha Nagar” won the festival’s highest honor: the Palme d’Or prize.
Sahibzadi Zohra Begum Mumtaz-ullah Khan was born on April 27, 1912 in Saharanpur, British India. She attended a prestigious ballet school in Dresden, Germany in her early 20s and later toured internationally with the Indian dance pioneer Uday Shankar. After she returned to India, she transitioned to acting, joining the Indian People’s Theatre Association in 1945.
Segal moved to London, England in 1962 and built an international profile over the following decades with roles in British television classics like “Doctor Who“ and the 1984 miniseries “The Jewel in the Crown.” In the mid-1990s, she returned to India, where she continued acting on the stage and in Bollywood films. In 2002, the year of her 90th birthday, Segal appeared in her memorable role in the film ”Bend it Like Beckham,” and continued to act well into her 90s.
Over the years, India has recognized Segal’s prolific contributions with some of the nation’s highest awards: the Padma Shri (1998), the Kalidas Samman (2001), and the Padma Vibhushan (2010).
Life, this endless conversation with yourself. Silent in sanity, audible in madness.
I am preparing myself for death. When I go to sleep, I try to keep myself smiling. So that when I die, I have a smile on my lips.
“Life’s been tough but I’ve been tougher. I beat life at its own game. You see me now when I am old and ugly, in fact you should have seen me earlier — when I was young and ugly!”
I want to be blonde with blue eyes. Life becomes drudgery if you don’t have a sense of humour. A good sense of humour makes you see the funny side of a tragedy.
There’s an energy that drives me; a voice that tells me every morning you must go on. Probably there would be a voice which tells me, “Zohra, it’s time for you to stop
I don’t understand the hullabaloo about inner beauty. What actually brings out your beauty is the radiance of being content. And you can only be content when you are employed in something you love.”
I’ve lived to the fullest. I’ve squeezed the best out of life. A good husband, children, family and most importantly my work. I am close to 100 and even with such a shriveled up face and figure I can boast that I’ve still got work fame and money! I’ve not gone into oblivion.