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Ammi very particular about her figure: Zohra Sehgal’s daughter

Kiran describes many facets of her famous mother's quirky personality in the book 'Zohra Sehgal: Fatty'.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi |
May 2, 2012 2:50:41 pm

At 100,Zohra Sehgal continues to remain a diva and is very particular about her figure,says daughter Kiran in a new book.

Kiran details many facets of her famous mother’s quirky personality in the book ‘Zohra Sehgal: Fatty’,which was released on Zohra’s birthday recently.

“She is very particular about her figure,like a sixteen year old starlet. She weighs herself almost every week and if she goes a little bit above then,at lunch,it is one toast instead of two and in proportion every other intake is diminished,” writes Kiran,who teases her figure conscious mother by calling her ‘Fatty!’.

Another thing that amuses the daughter about Zohra,who is a year older than Indian cinema,is her ability to “knock back her drink like a taxi driver”. Zohra,herself,has confessed about her fondness for ‘Bloody Mary’.

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The grand old lady,who conquered dance,theatre and cinema in her long career,loves to be at the centrestage.

“Ammi is just like little child at times… You’ve got to see her when guests are at home and she has dressed herself in a new outfit… She actually comes down the stairs as though she is making an entry on stage and laps up all the praise,” writes Kiran in the biography brought out by Niyogi Books.

“Not one for being shy,she can easily talk to someone if she wants and also snub anyone if she is not interested.”


Zohra always felt that she was not good looking enough. Her beautiful younger sister Uzra,though very dear to Zohra,contributed to this complex.

“In spite of my mother’s position and dominating nature,Ammi feels that people remember Uzra more than her because of her exceptional beauty and,hence Ammi developed a complex and tried very hard to be charming and attract attention. Personally,I feel my aunt had a sweeter and more amiable nature,” says Kiran commenting on her mother’s complex.

Born on April 27,1912 and third in seven siblings,Zohra decided to learn dance on a whim and travelled all the way to Europe in her uncle’s Dodge.


Upon returning to India,she began her career as a dancer with Uday Shankar in 1935,and performed across Japan,Egypt,Europe and the United States.

She married scientist,painter and dancer Kameshwar Sehgal in August 1942. Kameshwar was eight years younger to her and later committed suicide.

“I think my parents had had a tiff the previous day and in the evening Ammi and I had gone to see a play,” writes Kiran who is still haunted by the death of her ‘Dost’.

“My mother showed immense control over her emotions but every now and then she would suddenly break down like a mad woman and shed uncontrollable tears. I have never witnessed her crying like that ever.”

Before joining Prithvi theatre,Zohra tried her luck in films where Kameshwar was already working as an art director but the industry was not very kind to her.


“In the initial years,Ammi was offered roles in films where the director would want her to wear a swimming costume and emerge from a rose bowl! With her background and training she was nothing but horrified by this proposal. Of course,she refused but my father kept up with his art direction,” writes Kiran.

Years later,Zohra managed to conquer that part too with spirited performances in films like ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’,’Dil Se’,’Cheeni Kum’ and ‘Saawariya’.


Recounting her childhood in Mumbai Kiran writes,“My parents stayed with my aunt and uncle,sharing their tiny flat in 41 Palli Hill,which they,in turn,were sharing with Chetan Anand and his wife Uma,Dev Anand and Vijay Anand. Ammi still remembers Dev Uncle standing in front of a mirror,brushing his hair and asking her,’Didi,do you think they’ll take me as a hero?’”

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First published on: 02-05-2012 at 02:50:41 pm

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