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Still cued in



Adorable grandma... Zohra Segal in New Delhi. Photo V. Sudershan.

SHE IS in the nineties but nervousness is the last thing on her mind. Ask her the mantra of sustenance and Zohra Segal shocks you, "It is sex, beta."

But the shock is short lived as Zohra confirms what you and me generally attribute longevity to - a disciplined and organised lifestyle and certainly a sharp sense of humour, the lubricant that gels the two rigid words.

So how is a day like in the life of the doyenne of Indian theatre?

"My day starts at 8 a.m. with four glasses of water. In breakfast I take a large cup of milk. At 1.30 begins my lunchtime where two toasts, a bowl of soup and little salad suffice my needs. In the evening, I eat an apple and at 8.30 p.m., I enjoy my dinner comprising two chapattis, one sabzi and some fish. I make sure that I don't have anything between meals." That's not all. Zohra unfolds her exercise regimen that includes dance exercises where she moves one part of her body without disturbing others. Demonstrating her art, she says, "I also do some relaxation exercises which I learnt in Germany."

All through humour is sandwiched between the slices of life. The lady who takes pride in being a pronounced seagull by British shopkeepers shares, "Every now and then some channel keeps showing Amma and Family and generation after generation keeps calling me their Amma. When I go for walk in the evening in my colony they force me to have tea with them. This disturbs my schedule. Now I have put some artificial obstacles in my room and do my walking bit in my room only."

Sharp memory

However, what surprises most is her memory and ability to mug and deliver long dialogues at an age where most forget the names of things of daily use. "I read newspapers for an hour but the most important thing is I recite the poetry of my favourite poets like Faiz, Iqbal and Ali Sardar Jafri every evening."

Having seen the glorious years of Prithvi theatre where her sister Uzra Butt was the leading lady, Zohra says her idea of beauty also revolved around blue eyes, blonde hair and gorgeous body. "I also wanted everything. But now I believe inner beauty is more worthwhile."

Having seen the best of theatre, British and Hindi cinema, Zohra's fans miss an autobiography. Having developed a way with the words, Zohra reflects, "When I was in Britain, publishers used to say I have spent my formative years in India so I should approach an Indian publisher. Later when I returned to India, Indian publishers told me I have spent a major chunk of my career in Britain, I should look for an international publisher." However, Zohra has a biography in the form of little known "Stagers".

Recently appointed as the brand ambassador of a hearing aid, Zohra says "this was the only thing I could associate with because with these crooked lips I can't sell lipsticks. And the aid is of real help because now I could hear my cues easily." Keep going, Zohra.

ANUJ KUMAR

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