For Zohra-ji on her 100th birthday

This is how I first came to know of her:

She was Lady Lili Chatterjee of the MacGregor house in The Jewel in the Crown, the wonderful Granada TV serial adaptation of Paul Scott’s Raj Quartet.  In that role, Zohra Sehgal was elegant and knowing, the very person you would want to live with on your first outing to a country you’d never visited before.

She left a lasting impression on me back then, as did the entire series and its stellar cast.

Art Malik, Susan Wooldridge and Tim Pigott-Smith in The Jewel in the Crown


I was thrilled to see her again about 10 years later here:

Bhaji on the Beach directed by Gurinder Chadha


This time, Zohra was one member of the Saheli women’s group heading to Blackpool for the day in Gurinder Chadha’s feature film debut Bhaji on the Beach.

And here’s one place where I wished I had seen Zohra, in Tamasha Theater‘s A Yearning, their British Punjabi retelling of Garcia Lorca’s Yerma.

Zohra Sehgal in Tamasha Theater's A Yearning


I’ve not yet had the opportunity to meet Zohra Sehgal, but in anticipation of her 100th birthday today, I was so very pleased to be able to reach out to those actors and directors she had worked with over the years and hear what memories they wanted to share, including Susan Wooldridge and Tim Pigott-Smith from The Jewel in the Crown, James Ivory, Aasif Mandvi, Gurinder Chadha, Sakina Jaffrey, Sudha Bhuchar and Kristine Landon-Smith.  You can read the story here.

Happy 100th Birthday, Zohra-ji.  Thank you for so many years of so many great performances.

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