Age fails to dampen actress Zohra Sehgal's spirit

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New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) "Arre aa rahi hoon. Itni der tak baitthaye rakha (I am coming! I've been made to sit for so long)," 96-year-old actress Zohra Sehgal said loudly during a programme here to felicitate her as the 'Laadli of the century' in recognition of her contribution to films and theatre.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNPF)-Laadli Media Awards were held here late Thursday. The event was organised to acknowledge and award journalists, writers, film makers and artistes who have worked towards gender sensitisation to save the girl child.

Zohra, despite her age and discomfort, was sporting enough to climb the stage to receive the award from Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit.

Last year, Zohra was seen in films "Cheeni Kum" and "Saawariya". In her career spanning almost eight decades, she has acted in a number of Bollywood and Hollywood films.

On Dikshit's request, the actress recited a poem in her typical style complete with graceful actions. She received a standing ovation from the audience.

"Almost 70 percent of the world's work is done by girls and women and they have only 0.01 percent of the world's assets. Isn't that a shame?" Dikshit said and added that people must respect a girl child.

UNPF goodwill ambassador actress Lara Dutta, and pop singer Suneeta Rao, who is spokesperson of the 'Laadli' campaign were present.

"I joined UNPF in 2000 when I was all of 21 and crowned the Miss Universe. At that time, I didn't really know what I would have to do as the goodwill ambassador, but today I really admire the work being done by the organisation.

"We need to fight the injustice against girls and ensure that we don't allow children to be killed or harassed just because they are girls," said Lara.

Veteran actresses Tanuja and Sushma Seth were also seen.

A group of children of an NGO, Vidya, performed their version of the title track of Aamir Khan's "Taare Zameen Par" to kickstart the show followed by a performance by theatre actress Lushin Dubey. Odissi exponent Mallika Sarabhai also performed.

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