Zohra Sehgal's Troubled Life: Got Blind At Age Of One, Failed Thrice In 10th To Delay Marriage, More

A look into the life of Indian actress and dancer, Zohra Sehgal, who is still remembered by many as the best onscreen 'dadi' ever. Here's everything you need to know about her love life and struggles.


By Rishabh Naudiyal Last Updated:


Zohra Sehgal's Troubled Life: Got Blind At Age Of One, Failed Thrice In 10th To Delay Marriage, More

The iconic Indian actress, Zohra Sehgal was born on April 27, 1912, in the Saharanpur district of Uttar Pradesh to Mumtazullah Khan and Natiqua Begum. Right from an early age, she had an immense interest in dancing and later in her life, she developed an inclination towards acting. Zohra Sehgal made her debut in Hindi cinema with the film, Dharti Ke Lal. In her illustrious career, Zohra received a series of prestigious awards for her performances in films and work as a dancer. One of the most notable honours with which she was bestowed in her career were the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.

Zohra Sehgal’s best movies

The iconic actress had worked in numerous films in her astonishing career, but some films had a massive impact on the audiences. Some of the most memorable films of Zohra Sehgal’s career are the likes of Neecha Nagar, Bhaji on the Beach, Bend It Like Beckham, Dil Se…, Veer-Zaara, Kal Ho Naa Ho, Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, and many more. Despite all the success that she had achieved in life, not many people are aware of the hardships and traumatic phases that she saw in her lifetime. So, without further ado, let’s get straight into the list of some unknown facts about Zohra Sehgal’s life.

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When Zohra Sehgal lost her left eye due to glaucoma at the age of one

The legendary actress, Zohra Sehgal had the most traumatic start to her life, as at the age of one, she was diagnosed with the eye disease, glaucoma. As a result, the then-one-year-old baby girl lost her left eye, after which her parents took her to England for treatment. If the reports are to be believed, Zohra Sehgal regained her vision after her family spent 300 pounds on her treatment in 1913. For the unversed, glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can minimise a person’s vision or can create complete blindness by damaging the back of a person’s optic nerve.

When Zohra Sehgal's school principal intentionally failed her thrice in 10th grade

Right from the beginning of her school days, Zohra Sehgal was a bright student. However, after her mother's demise, Zohra's father decided to get all his daughters married as soon as possible. So, after some years of her mother’s death, one of her sisters got married and had a terrible married life with her husband. It was then Zohra decided that she didn’t want to get married.

But her father was reluctant about her marriage and had already told Zohra Sehgal that he would wed her to a good man after she completes her schooling at Queen Mary College in Lahore. However, she was a rebel right from an early age and found an idea to delay her wedding. Zohra Sehgal informed her school principal about the same, and she failed the actress three times in 10th standard, so her schooling could continue.

Zohra Sehgal wanted to become a pilot

During her school days, Zohra Sehgal participated in a series of dance and acting shows. The actress used to receive a lot of appreciation for her dance and acting from her teachers and special guests at cultural programs. However, she always wanted to become a pilot when she was a child. When she told her father about her dream to become a pilot, he rejected it immediately.

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Zohra Sehgal was the first Indian to get admission to iconic German dancer, Mary Wigman's dance school

Zohra Sehgal’s passion for dancing can be understood by the fact that despite not getting enough support from her father, she got selected at the iconic German dancer, Mary Wigman’s dance school. It was an extraordinary feat for the young lady, as she had become the first Indian to get into Mary’s prestigious school, which used to produce the world’s best dancers and choreographers.

Zohra Sehgal got married to fellow dancer, Kameshwar Sehgal despite an age gap of 8 years

When Zohra Sehgal was performing around the world with Indian dancer, Uday Shankar’s dance group, she met Kameshwar Sehgal. The two reportedly fell in love with each other while travelling and performing together in different countries. However, Kameshwar was 8 years younger than Zohra, but it was never a problem for the couple, who wanted to spend the rest of their lives with each other.

But when Zohra Sehgal told her family about Kameshwar and their age difference, they immediately rejected their idea and told her to forget him. However, after multiple discussions with her family, they agreed to their decision. It was on August 14, 1942, when Zohra and Kameshwar got married in the presence of their respective families, relatives and friends. The couple welcomed two children, Pavan Sehgal and Kiran Sehgal and lived happily.

Zohra Sehgal used to work at Prithviraj Theater for a pay of Rs. 400

Everything was going fine in Zohra Sehgal’s life, but the partition broke her life into two pieces, just like most Indians back then. It was a turbulent time for the actress as she broke ties with so many family members who were living in Lahore. So the actress moved to Bombay with her husband, Kameshwar Sehgal and their 1-year-old daughter, Kiran Sehgal. The couple started their lives from zero in Mumbai, and during that challenging phase, Zohra worked at Prithviraj Theater for just Rs. 400.

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Zohra Sehgal passed away at the age of 102 due to pneumonia

Zohra Sehgal’s husband, Kameshwar Sehgal passed away in 1959. Despite such a huge loss in her life, she continued working in films, television shows and even worked with BBC. However, it was on July 10, 2014, when she was admitted to the famous Max Hospital in Delhi, as she was suffering from pneumonia. Unfortunately, despite being admitted to the hospital, she couldn’t make it as she suffered a cardiac arrest and passed away at the age of 102.

Zohra Sehgal will always be remembered for her versatility as an actress and dancer. But, no doubt, her life story will keep inspiring generations, as it is the epitome of ‘never give it up’.

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