Zohra Sehgal: Celebrating the doyenne's 105th birth anniversary on Throwback Thursday
Hindi cinema was on the verge of its 100th anniversary when reputed Odissi dancer wrote the autobiography of her mother titled, Zohra Sehgal: Fatty. Zohra, who passed away a couple of years later, was 102.
Despite the fact that her birth took place prior to the advent of Hindi cinema, it is safe to say that Zohra was born an actor. A famous choreographer, she had acted in Hollywood films, television shows and theatre. But she will always be widely known for her short yet impressionable roles in Hindi cinema.
On this week's Throwback Thursday, Firstpost recalls five films that she stood out in:
Just like in Karan Johar's 2001 family drama Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, she played Shah Rukh Khan's grandmother in this 1998 Mani Ratnam thriller. While she had her fair share of one liners accompanied by winks, she stole the show when she displayed some of her classical dance moves, even if barely for seconds, on AR Rahman-composed 'Jiya Jale'.
Chalo Ishq Ladaaye
If Rekha played Super Nani onscreen, Zohra played 'Super Dadi', just far more convincingly. At 90, she played Govinda's grandmother, beat up the bad guys and rode a motor bike with elan. Her comic timing was also spot on, probably feeding on the energy of her reel grandson.
The adorable biji of Preity Zint, Yash Chopra cast Zohra for the short yet crucial cameo not only because of her evergreen effervescence but also because the theme of the film borrowed a chapter from her life. Born in a traditional Muslim household in Uttar Pradesh, she went on to marry Kameshwar Sehgal, a Hindu, much to the sheer dismay of her conservative parents.
Mistress of Spices
Zohra had already made a crossover to Hollywood decades before Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, the lead actor of this film, followed suit in early 2000s. She had done over half a dozen Hollywood films and TV series including Dr Who. Zohra was fluent in English and her age could tone down neither her accent nor her zest.
A role custom-made for the veteran actor, Zohra played Amitabh Bachchan's mother in this romantic drama. However, R Balki ensured that their relationship was anything but melodramatic. A relief from all the Nirupa Roys of Hindi cinema, Zohra did not think twice before commenting on the sex life of her son, with a hint of concern and dollops of sarcasm.
Her last film was Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Saawariya but it was rather tough to digest that a lady so full of life could ever breathe her last. She is still fondly remembered as narrating Hafeez Jullundhri's poem, 'Abhi Toh Main Jawan Hoon', as was the custom after her regular poetry recital 'An Evening with Zohra'.