Zohra Segal: ‘Fatty’ is the story of the talented actress, in the words of her daughter, Kiran. It takes the reader through the life of Zohra, her early days, her tours, her marriage, life in London and return to Delhi, where she now lives. Her performances, both on stage and screen, have been absolutely memorable.
This book is a loving tribute to Zohra, now hundred years old. Accompanied by photographs and an occasional sketch made by the young Zohra, this is much more than a collector’s item. For, Zohra Segal is the rare combination of talent, hard work and zest. Hers is a full life, a life that truly needs to be celebrated.
Kiran Segalis one of the most innovative and outstanding dancers/choreographers of Odissi today. She takes a sincere interest in inculcating an awareness in Odissi dance among the youth; her lecture demonstrations, workshops and talks have taken this ancient dance form to the remotest corners of India. Kiran has performed in forty-one countries all over the world and has also participated in major dance festivals.
She has been honoured with several titles and awards for her dedication and contribution to Indian classical dance, including the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, given by the National Academy of Music and Dance, 2002; the Neelamadhava Award, 2002; the Kala Shreshtha Sammaan, 2000; the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Award, 2000; the Nritya Vilas, 1993; the Nritya Saraswati, 1991; the Parishad Sammaan, Delhi Government, 1986; the Shringaar Mani, 1979 and the Kala Mani, 1976. In 2011, she was given the Meri Dilli award for her contribution to culture.
Kiran’s single-minded and deep-rooted attachment to dance has led her to establish Pallavi-Odissi Nritya Sangeet Vidyalaya in New Delhi where she imparts training and grooms young dancers. Some of her disciples are and have been recipients of scholarships for dance from the Ministry of Culture and the Government of Delhi. Several others are now based in the USA, the USSR and the UK.
She continues to look upon Odissi dance as a guiding force in her life.
When someone asked me to write a book on my mother I wondered, “What can I write about her? She is my mother and that’s it.” Most important, I am not a writer-far from it. I can only dance and nothing else!
Then the seed was sown and I kept thinking about it as the days went by. This was in 2006, almost six years ago. My mind travelled in reverse gear to my childhood with her, my father Kameshwar Segal and my brother Pavan in 41 Pali Hill, Mumbai (then Bombay). What a happy family we were. Her strictness, my father’s laughter, the get-togethers with the neighbours, my friends and I running all over the place, going to school and of course going to Prithvi Theatres with her. My first dance lessons and training were with my mother and I learnt a lot from watching her teach ‘dance’.
I have written this book not as a historian or an experienced writer but a as a daughter who has been with her mother throughout her mother’s ‘ups’ and downs’, her struggle, her tragedies and her several moods! My mother has also been a great friend to me. We’ve had our fights, disagreements and criticisms of each other-more her than me-our jokes on ourselves and on others. It has been wonderful.
On 27 April 2012 my mother Zohra Segal completes a hundred years of excitement in dance, theatre, films, television and this journey we call life. She claims, “I have a hundred years of history in me!”
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