MUMBAI: Bollywood’s grand dame Zohra Sehgal(pictured), whose seven-decade career spanned theatre, film, dance and television in India and Britain, died in hospital yesterday, her family said. She was 102.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led tributes to the star, who was born in northern India in April 1912, describing her on Twitter as “prolific & full of life”. “Zohra Sehgal made a mark through her acting, which is admired across generations. Saddened on her demise,” he wrote. Sehgal’s daughter Kiran told the Press Trust of India news agency that her mother had been ill for a few days and died of a cardiac arrest in New Delhi in the afternoon. Sehgal began work as a dancer in the 1930s before moving to acting, becoming known as the doyenne of Indian theatre, although she also won fans through her various roles in Hindi and English-language films and TV series over the years.
Her film debut came in the 1946 movie ‘Dharti Ke Lal’ (Son of the Soil). After winning a drama scholarship in 1962, she moved to Britain.
In her memoir she told of how, after finishing her scholarship, she scraped by as a dresser in London’s green rooms and even managed to educate her children there. Sehgal returned to India in the 1990s at the age of 80 and continued acting until the age of 95.
Her most popular Hindi hits included “Dil Se” and “Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam”. In 2010 she was awarded the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second highest civilian award. Her last film role came in 2007 in “Cheeni Kum” (Less Sugar), in which she acted alongside Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan as his mother.