Zohra Sehgal (27 April 1912–10 July 2014) was an actress, theatre personality, dancer, and choreographer. Sehgal started her career as a dancer in Uday Shankar’s troupe, performing in countries like the United States and Japan. She went on to appear in numerous Bollywood films as a character actress with a career-span of over 60 years.
The famous films she was part of, include Neecha Nagar, Afsar (1946), Bhaji on the Beach (1992), The Mystic Masseur (2001), Bend It Like Beckham (2002), Dil Se.. (1998), Saawariya and Cheeni Kum (2007); and the TV series, The Jewel in the Crown (1984), Tandoori Nights (1985–87), Amma and Family (1996). At the age of 90, she played the central character in the 2002 film Chalo Ishq Ladaaye. Considered the doyenne of Indian theatre, she acted with Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA) and Prithviraj Kapoor’s Prithvi Theatre for 14 years. She has also acted in English-speaking films such as Bend It Like Beckham.
She was awarded the Padma Shri in 1998, Kalidas Samman in 2001, and in 2004, the Sangeet Natak Akademi. India’s National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama presented her with its highest award, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship for lifetime achievement. She received the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian honor, in 2010. She died in a New Delhi hospital on 10 July 2014 due to cardiac arrest.