Song of Bird: Zohra Sehgal, the immortal, as i know

Sahibzadi Zohra Begum Mumtaz-ullah Khan  was the actual name of Zohra Sehgal ji.  But I knew her most energetic persona. Zohra Sehgal ji. Many years back I saw a TV serial Mulla Nasiruddin on Doordarshan. it was based on stories that we used to hear during childhood. But i had been admirer of Zohra Sehgal ji as i am a student of Dance. Thus anyone in India who is learning dance must know about Zohra ji. Beacsue she was the leading dancer in Uday Shankar’s dance troupe that toured the world in 1935? imagine that was before India got freedom. And in those days dancing by any girl of a respected family was something unbelievable, it was something like death. But Zohra Sehgal ji was always a fighter. However she got backing from her maternal uncle and few of his friends. With the help of her maternal uncle she went to Europe to study, but she also joined classes in Dance, modern dance. In material available in net she is termed as a tomboy? means during childhood she was not just a girl.

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with her daughter Kiran Sehgal

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Alice bonner, Uday Shankar, Beatrice, Uzra (Zohra's sister), Zohra Segal
with Uday Shankar
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book by Kiran Sehgal on her mother Zohra Sehgal ji

img37 She acted in few plays, stage shows withe her sister Uzra in Lahore.

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at her 100 birthday celebration

images (81) First Indian woman to learn ballet at Mary Wigman's ballet school in Dresden,

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With Uday Shankar,

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She worked in the Prithvi Theatre as leading lady/actor in many stage shows accross India, her sister Uzra ji was already a leading actor of Prithvi Theatre.

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Zohra Segal icon of the stage and screen celebrates her 100th birthday with an official biographyimages (75)

She met Kameshwar Sehgal, when Uday Shankar started his dance academy at Almora(1940). Do you know our great film maker Guru Dutt ji was also learning dance at this academy. Zohra ji married Kameshwar Sehgal. Later they started as school at Lahore, Zohresh dance Institute. But they during migrated to Bombay, and She joined the Prithvi Theatre as an actor in 1945. She worked in few Hindi films also.

After death of her husband she moved to Delhi and then to London. There she worked in theatre shows also got opportunity to work in TV series, few on BBC also.

World famous and reputed Merchant Ivory production roped her in a film Courtesan of Bombay in 1982. This production house of James Ivory with the Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (the mysterious script writer) has always brought out interesting films on Indian themes. Thanx to Doordarshan that i was able to see few of them.

As she was dancer, she also did some choreography in films. most famous i remember the song (dream sequence) in Awara.

Her life in London was difficult to an extent but she some how established herself in TV series and films. Once somewhere i had read that she even did some stitching  work for  firm that was roped in for making curtains for the palace.

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Honoured with Padma Vibhusan in 2010

On Doordarshan when i saw the Jewel in the crown i did not know that Zohra Sehgal acted in the film as lady chaterjee (lili). I only remember a British lady near the end of series says that India  actually is the jewel in the crown. Then she acted in Tandoori Nights.

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Mind your language, a comedy TV series 1977, retelecast few times

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later in 90s she got some films also but she did plays with her sister also during this period. She appeared in Salman & Aishwaria starer, film Hum dil de chuke sanam.  on 9th July 2014 she passed away.  I think she should have got Bharat Ratna.

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Why she was most respected is that in-spite of the fact that she was born to a muslim family that too in a well to do family, in those times when purdah system was enforced she got education in school and went on to become s stage performer (dance & plays). Imagining about such a life one can really think of the hurdles she might have felt in her life. I or we must salute to the courage with which she worked all her life (independently on her own terms).

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youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQbGmnDW2nE

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57 years of Doordarshan- a journey DD

I knew it as Doordarshan but now it is known as DD. There are various channels of DD at present, DDNational, DDsports, DDNews, DDIndia and DDBharati.
It has been a journey of 57 years for doordarshan. I don’t know who coined this name for our National TV, but it was perfect choice for national TV.
Often we used to call it as Sanjay ka kaliyugi avatar. lat; dk dfy;qxh vorkjA
egkHkkjr esa lat; dh nwj n`’fV dk o.kZu vk;k gSA
@DD_National twitter handle of Doordarshan twitted these photographs

 

Then through the years we started liking DD. But also we hated it so much so that its name was coined as #dkoV ds fy, [ksn gS
In those days very often it so happened in almost all Sunday movies that this caption used to be shown in middle of scenes.
That time all of us used to curse the doordarshan. Sometimes when cricket match was telecasted and if this caption came, all of sudden students started crying loudly and started making sounds.

Luckily we carried over that period and passed on to a new chapter when there was news that a Metro channel is coming. It was for two hour special channel on Doordarshan. Then in 1982 the INSAT thing happened and we got a National Telecast in a real sense. Our late Prime Minister Smt Indira Gandhi ji asked the Capt. Rakesh Sharma when he was in the spacecraft above in the sky, that how does our India looks like? He without any hesitation replied that lkjs tgkaW ls vPNk Sare Jahan se Accha. To this reply Smt Indira Gandhi also laughed. All this happened in front of our eyes. Whole nation enjoyed. Asian, National games-Bhartiyam, CHOGM, NAM, SAARC all started happening on the screen in our houses. Nothing of that sort ever happened before. All this happened in COLORs, earlier all we saw was in black and white screen.

In my house TV came in 1982. There was this program on Immortal melodies Immortal stars. All old stalwarts came on screen, Rajkumari ji, Noorjahan came to India and sang vokt ns dgka gS rw nqfu;ka rsjh tokWa gS Great Naushad sahib conducted the song. As it seems, that time stood still.

Earlier when there was only one TV in whole colony, all children used to hang on to the window of that house. Those who were close to that family were lucky and saw the TV from inside of the room. But I was a weak child, I got the chance to hang in the window iron bars and sometimes I was not even given that opportunity also by the mighty boys of our colony.
Those were very bad times for me. I used to think why this TV is not in my house. But then how could we ask such questions to our papa ji? We did not have tape recorder, not even a camera? But yes we had a Radio. It was a big one named as PIE. It was from UK I think? My father was in Indian Navy. He was in the team which was sent to England to bring back the INS Vikrant to India. That time my father might have bought that PIE Radio, I think?
Later we used to walk for 1 km from type one in IIT Kanpur campus to type two to watch Sunday movie in house of Mathurs. I am gratefull to Mathur family. They did permit us to watch TV sitting in their drawing room. It was a great thing on their part in those days. Yes it was a great emotional thing. I had been scolded many times in some houses, as to not to touch those sofa covers. While watching TV, As it happened in ecstasy sometimes I forgot my poor existence and might have put my hand on sofa cover, and it got some wrinkles. That was enough to get a scolding from the lady of house. It was quite OK for me. It was not a big price to pay in lieu of watching that idiot box?? Isn’t it?
But time passed on From 1976 to 1982. But in this journey i came to know lot of great souls of India. Our Bharat Ratna a great soul, a Divine Singer Smt MSubbulakhsmi one such persona.

Even in 1982 many households did not own a TV. 
In villages, where i visited during summer and winter holidays (vacations) not many had even a Transistor. Few enthusiastic youths and few landlords had Transistors. They had nice colorfull covers, nicely woven by the ladies of households. The cricket match was the prime objective for transistors among young. News/Samachar and some film songs were the attraction for rich people. 
Later even rickshaw pullers also had transistors nicely tied on to their handles or specially designed hangers on cycle or rickshaws. In bus also i saw good arrangements were made to hang Transistors.
Even during the time of Reshma ji, she did not know much about Radio. After lots of reluctance she was allowed to sing on Radio.

But When in 1982 TV came to our house our sensibilities changed. Prior to that we were depending on Dharmayug, Hindustan,


Illustrated weekly, Kadambini, Navneet,  Sarita, chandamama, Amar chitra katha, parag, chandan or nandan? gudiya, for various needs of Knowledge, entertainment etc.
Later i also had Vama, Femina, Frontline, Reader Digest and few other magazines for my reading.

I used to read books of famous Shivani ji (Gaura Pant), Acharya Chatursen, Premchand, AmritLal Nagar etc.
Newspapers were also there- Hindustan Times, Times of India, Aajtak, Dainik Jagran.
we all grew up reading all this. But when this TV came all of sudden our world diminished and coiled into that idiot box. Why that was called as idiot Box?
Through Doordarshan really i got darshan of far off places. I got to see films in Malayalam, Tamil, KannadaGujarati, Rajasthani, Marathi, Manipuri, Bengali, Punjabi, Assamese, Telugu, Bhojpuri, Oriya,  i doubt whether there was any film in Kashmiri? back then. Till 1990 i kept watching doordarshan at my home.
i had seen Sagar Sangamam, Sindhu Bhairavi, Agni Nakshatram, But i liked the most was the film Sankarabharnam. 
Then there was my fav star a super star, most creative person i have ever seen after V Shantaram ji was NTR NT Rama Rao.

All of his films shown on Doordarhsan were superb. Daanveer Karna, where he wore most artistic Shoes and walking in the compound of palace of pandavas, when he placed foot on the floor, the camera NTR used there was most innovative. One has to see himself to appreciate that angle of camera? SitaRama Raju. where he played role of the fighter. Then there are many such films where NTR played role of Krishna, Vishnu etc. All films were artistically superb, Each Frame of his films were like paintings. Just like most of the films of V Shantaram were like a work of Painted canvas. He was a creator of art. I don’t remember how many films were shown on DD in Telugu, but most of them i saw were of NTR.
Then there was Tamil films, Shivaji Ganeshan, and MGR etc. The film in which Shivaji played a mythological? role where he was fighting with his own son. But he did not know that fact. later somewhere during fight or after that he was told that fact.
Then there was a film in which heroine was staying in her sister’s house and during absence of her sister she went to her bedroom. But in Night the hero came and unforgettable thing happened. Hero thought that lady was his wife.
Then in one film the heroine is a district collector and the hero is a simple govt employee. The films of Padmini, the gem of Travancore sisters. this dance sequence where i think MGR was there, and went to see the dance of heroine in disguise, as if nobody could see them. there were so many. few were shown of Vaijayantimala in Tamil also. Padmini played a dancer role.
There was this film in which i saw Jayaprada and sridevi together. (am i correct?)
The famous film in which Kamal Hassan worked with Jayaprada. He had some dance scenes.
Bombay i saw in Malayalam. But later it was also in Hindi.

 








 

With the journey of Doordarshan i came to know about many stalwarts and GEMs of India and Indian Music. The Gauhar Jaan was the star of her times. She was a Super star celebrity of her times compared to present times celebrity, she was more highly paid and commercially successful.
There were few good programs on our rich tradition of Music also. Smt Naina Devi ji was the permanent feature in many such programs on Doordarshan. There were many such vidushis. Like Sidheswari Devi, Girja Devi, Rasoolan Bai, Asgari Bai, later Begum Akhtar became the star attraction on Doordarshan. There was Savita Devi, Shobha Gurtu, Usha Uthup though apposite genre of music but both captivated audiences through their music, Doordarshan telecasted their programs.

RukminiDevi Arundale and dances choreographed by her came on Doordarshan.

 

 

 

MS & Radha ji

 

 

my fav NTRama Rao, in SitaRamRaju??

So Doordarshan was one medium through which i learnt about India from Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Leh, Gilgit, Kanyakumari, Kucth. Through Doordarshan i came to know about our rich heritage of Indian Music & Arts. Jammu to Kanyakumari. There was one program on DD i heard, few folk singer were singing some of their folk songs but it was said they sounded like hymns of Veda?

Meena Kumari JI- a phenomena

मीनाकुमारी जी की जन्म तिथि पर On BirthDay of most respected Meena Kumari ji. the most awarded actor.

Most talented actor of Hindi films.
To understand this phenomena- a Super Star of Hindi Films one has to feel in heart.

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The day i saw Pakeezah, i started dancing.      The Music, editing, dialogues, the set design, rushes of frames, Picturisation all were superb and un-matched. As if, each frame was painted by a Painter with great care. The Character played by Meena Kumari ji came to life on screen with her inborn talent to show emotion. We saw the true Saheb Jaan. When She cried i cried, When she smiled i smiled that was the connection with her& Her screen presence.   When she lowered her eyelids and looked at hero through the corner of eyes i felt as if i am doing the same….
Thare Rahiyo …. banke yaar
All my classmates called me “Thare Rahio”, since i used to dance on this song of film Pakeezah. All through my schooldays and even in college days i was laughed at by all my classmates. WHY? Because I danced on all songs of Meana Kumari ji . Why they laughed because being a boy i used to dance? i was subjected to unnecessary taunts, comments. Even one uncle said that “your father will have problem for marrying you?”   This was the Most unexpected comment from most respected uncle who was my neighbour. We used to give keys of my house daily when all of us leave for school and my parents for office. Most amazing thing happened
When I went to participate in a dance competition held at AND Mahila Mahvidyalaya Harsh Nagar in Kanpur.  As i was coming out of college gate, i heard a voice “Thare Rahiyo” it was voice of some girl commenting from my behind? on that inter college dance competetion held at function ABHIVYAKTI in AND college that is a girls college.
So it is not that boys always pass comments at girls. But Girls also pass comments?  But i think Girls got confidence due to prevalent thinking in society that dancing is a bad thing and that too a boy was dancing on stage, thus it was a collective endevour of a group of girl students of AND Mahila Mahavidyalaya, Kanpur.  I am highlighting the perception of society towards the art of Dancing !!! that too if a boy dance.
 

All my school mates knew and remember me by the song “Thare Rahio” and नज़र लागी  राजा तोरे बंगले पर  “Nazar Laagi raja tore bangle par” also few remember me for “Inhi logo ne” इन्ही लोगों ने छीना दुपट्टा मेरा. What pains me that after 30 years If  I get to know that some of my classmates says oh that boy who used to dance? they remember me with that comment. I also see thier posts on social media, in that i see their daughters are learning dance, and that too in US America !! means when they were my classmates for them my dance was a bad thing and an object to redicule me. But as they went to America their daughters learning dance is a good thing.

But then this Saheb Bibi Gulam Happened. And I was star struck by acting skills of Meena ji. In the role of छोटी बहु Choti Bahu choti bahu Her acting was superb. The greatest histrionics played ever by any actor on screen of Hindi Films. My respect goes to Shri GURU DUTT saheb also. He casted her in this role? All of her frames in films were unparalleled till today.
Very recently i came to know that till the date Meena Kumari ji was doing this film she had not touched the drinks. As i have heard that Shri Kamal Amrohi ji had to assist her on acting after drinking.

 

 

To this great soul of India- A bharat Ratna. I offer my pranam

Such great star take birth very rarely on this earth.