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The Grand Empress of Performance

With a mischievous grin, infectious laugh and one of the most expressive faces in performing history, Zohra Sehgal has had audiences entranced for over 60 years. She was born in 1912 near Dehradun, and in the next few decades, studied in Lahore, traveled by road to Europe, learned ballet, performed in Japan, toured the world with a dance troupe, fell in love with and married a scientist-dancer. 

She came back to Bombay in the 1950s and toured with the famed Prithvi theatre for 14 years before moving to England and becoming a household name. But in the 1980s, she returned to Bombay and set her eyes on Bollywood- challenging every stereotype of its obsession with youth.

With the energy to match a 20 year old and a wit sharp enough to cut through anyone who said otherwise, she ruled the roost as the feisty grandmother who didn't just walk around in white sarees weeping at every twist in the tale. 

We grew up watching Zohra light up any screen she was on and steal the show with her twinkling eyes, distinctive voice and vibrant exuberance. 

A favourite performance by her is a recitation of the stunningly beautiful poem 'Mujhse Pehli Si Mohabbat'

The grand lady of the performing arts passed on to bigger adventures yesterday at the age of 102 and we're so envious of the new audiences she's probably enchanting right now. Always onwards Zohra. <3

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