Google on September 29 honoured the veteran actor and dancer Zohra Sehgal by featuring her on doodle to celebrate the anniversary of her 1946 film, Neecha Nagar which was released at the Cannes International Film Festival. The film is considered Indian cinema’s first international critical success, 'Neecha Nagar' won the festival's highest honor: the Palme d’Or prize.
Google in its statement has described Zohra Sehgal as one of the country’s first female actors to truly achieve recognition on the international stage.
The doodle shows an illustration of the iconic actor in a classical dance posture in a pink saree with a floral background with 'Celebrating Zohra Sehgal' appears when the cursor is pointed on it.
Sahibzadi Zohra Begum Mumtaz-ullah Khan was born on April 27, 1912 in Saharanpur, British India. She attended a prestigious ballet school in Dresden in Germany in her early 20s and later toured internationally with the Indian dance pioneer Uday Shankar.
Later, she transitioned to acting and joined the Indian People’s Theatre Association in 1945.
Sehgal married Kameshwar Sehgal, a Hindu, despite reluctance from her parents on August 14, 1942.
She had choreographed few Hindi films including classics like Guru Dutt’s “Baazi” (1951) and the dream sequence song in Raj Kapoor’s film “Awaara”.
After her husband’s death in 1952, Sehgal first moved to Delhi and then to London on a drama scholarship in 1962, where she appeared in many TV productions including “The Jewel in the Crown”, “Tandoori Nights” and “My Beautiful Laundrette”.
In the mid-1990s, she returned to India, where she continued acting on the stage and in Bollywood films. In her 90s, in the year 2002, she acted in "Bend it Like Beckham." Her last film was Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Saawariya' before she died on July 10, 2014 at the age of 102.
In 2012, her Kiran daughter wrote a biography named “Zohra Sehgal: Fatty”. The book is about Zohra in the words of her daughter, which takes the reader through the life of Zohra, her early days, her tours, her marriage, life in London and return to Delhi, where she now lives.
With her contribution to the world of arts, she had been honoured with the Padma Shri in 1998, the Kalidas Samman in 2001, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2010.
Describing Sehgal, Parvati Pillai, who illustrated the actress as dancing in a beautiful pink saree said, "Zohra Sehgal is admired across generations for her acting and loveable personality. She overcame social and cultural stereotypes with her sheer tenacity and infectious passion from a very young age. She is an inspiration not just for women everywhere, but for anyone who wants to follow their own path! I grew up watching her as the evergreen granny and have been enthralled by her love for acting and dancing, especially in her twilight years. She taught me what it meant to be passionate about my work and to never be afraid of new challenges."