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Z: Zohra Sehgal #AToZChallenge

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I'm gonna end this challenge with one of my favorite people who teaches me to never lose that inner child. Zohra Sehgal was an actor, dancer and choreographer and she was one of the longest living celebrities of the world. She died at the age of 102, but with the strength and the mindset of a 20 year old. If you still are finding it difficult to place her, think about the woman who played Amitabh Bachchan's feisty mother in 'Cheeni Kum', that's her!

Born in 1912 to a Muslim family, Zohra has a very shielded upbringing. She was expected to follow the purdah system and traditions, but she knew that this would make her claustrophobic. She was more of a tomboy and enjoyed playing games and climbing trees. She was the first Indian woman to learn ballet at Mary Wigman's ballet school in Dresden, Germany. This was the first time she had a romantic relationship with an art form, considering she was brought up strictly under a system where it was mandatory for her to do everything behind a veil. She was the one to shatter the rules and not just bend them. In the era she was born in, Indian women felt shy in even coming in front of men but she was full of life and an unstoppable spirit. She embraced dance and performed with elan.

She fell in love with one of her co-dancers, who was eight years her junior and a Hindu. In-spite of the opposition from her family, she went ahead and married him. Sadly, this union was short-lived as her husband passed away 17 years later. She won a dance scholarship soon after and shifted to London to raise her two children. She taught dance over there to make ends meet as a widow. Zohra's been a survivor since her birth. When Zohra was just over a year old, she couldn't see from her left eye because she got glaucoma and she had to get it treated at a hospital in Birmingham. In 1994, she got cancer but her will-power beat that too. "Life's been tough but I've been tougher. I beat life at its own game" she said.

Not the one to mince words and shy away from an opinion, Zohra has always spoken her mind. "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. When admirers praise me for raising the paradigm for women in acting, I say b***s. What have I done for them consciously? Whatever I've done, I've done it for love of acting, fame and power. The love for life and work probably radiates as my inner beauty!"

She also said at the age of 97, "Sex is very important for life to get going; I still want it!"

Padma Shri in 1998 and Padma Vibhushan in 2010 were some of the few awards she received in her 102 years of existence.

She died on 10th July 2014, aged 102, after suffering cardiac arrest and was cremated on 11th July at Lodhi Road crematorium, Delhi. She had dictated that upon her death she wanted to be cremated and buried without fuss or poems, and told her family to flush her ashes down the toilet if the crematorium refuses to keep them. She goes on to prove that you can live a long, happy life by doing what you love and staying young at heart.

If that is not inspirational, then what is?


I'm participating in the April A to Z Challenge for 2019 and my theme is Wonder Women.


  1. Hi, I have enjoyed reading this series on inspiring women. I also admire your writing style and enjoy reading your book and movie reviews too.. keep them coming!

  2. I have always loved watching Zohra Sehgal on screen, be it as Aishwarya's dadi ma in Hum dil de chuke sanam, or Big B's mum in Cheeni Kum....she always stole the limelight with her effervescence and her spiritedness. And, now through your post I loved every word I read about this grand old doyenne of Indian cinema. I wish she had lived longer, inspiring us and filling our cinema with her bubbly beauty! :P She was the most adorable grandma, wasn't she? I secretly wished she was my granny!

    1. Oh yeah! I wish she was my best friend :)

  3. So an inspiring person! "Life's been tough but I've been tougher. I beat life at its own game. " I loved this! How many of us can say this?

  4. Oh my gosh that quote! I love her <3

  5. Wow! I have always admired this lady, and yet after reading this post, I realize there was a lot that I did not know. She was truly inspirational woman, and such a fighter!

    P.S. I had a crazy April with a major work transition, so couldn't get to your AtoZ posts.

    But I am going to go back and read them all now, so consider this fair warning for all the stalking/commenting to come. :D

    1. Hahahaha, you are always welcome, Shantala :)


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