She of the twinkling eyes, exuberant energy and bounties of warmth. Veteran Bollywood actor Zohra Segal turned 101 on Saturday. Segal, who began her career as a dancer in 1935, has covered the gamut of performing arts and mediums from dance and theatre to English and Hindi films, and continues to rank among the best-loved actors of our times.
Wishes and memories poured in from fellow actors and others who had worked with her, each attesting her wit, wisdom and zestful enthusiasm in a career that has spanned more than seven decades.
“She’s a great actress and it’s just marvelous that she has carried on for so many years,” said actor and writer Girish Karnad.
Segal’s life has run almost parallel to Indian films themselves — she turns 101 in the year that India cinema is celebrating its centenary. On her last birthday she had released her official biography, Zohra Segal: Fatty.
“When I met her some years ago, I asked her, what is the emotion you feel when you look back on your life?” said director Mahesh Bhatt, whose wife is a close friend of Segal.
“Immense gratitude, she had said to me. ‘I can still hear you, I can still taste my food and walk on my own feet.’ Those words communicate the most essential lesson to us.”