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Interview: Ace filmmaker Shyam Benegal says, we should celebrate Zohra Sehgal's life rather than mourning her death
Veteran Bollywood actress and remarkable classic dancer, Zohra Sehgal died at the age of 102 years on Thursday after suffering cardiac arrest. She has been cremated in Delhi in the presence of some big names from the Bollywood, and her huge fan following. With Sehgal's death, no doubt Bollywood has suffered a huge loss.

In a free-wheeling chat with us, legendary Bollywood director and screenwriter Shyam Benegal remembered the legendary actress Zohra Sehgal.

Question: Legendary Bollywood actress Zohra Sehgal is no more. How big this loss is for the Bollywood?

Shyam BenegalShyam Benegal (SB): She was a remarkable dancer and actress. She started her career as a dancer with Uday Shankar in 1935. And what is more important is that she had a good fortune of living such a long life. In most of part of her life, she was in a very good health. So, I think we need to celebrate her life. It's not something mourning like, of course she died, but she was 102 years old, hardly people reach this age. So, I think we need to celebrate her life rather mourning, it is my personal opinion.

Q: Have you ever thought about doing a movie with 'the grand old lady of cinema'?

(SB): I did, I did seriously think about to do a film with her several years ago, but in the meanwhile of course I had already done the casting with someone else. She would have done equal justice to me, but I didn't get a second opportunity, because I didn't have requirement of a character of her age in my project.

Q: She was the perfect dancer and actress who had given her whole life to theater, a maximum 14 years to Prithviraj Theatre and Indian People's Theatre Association. In past have you got any chance to watch any drama in which she acted in? What do you have to say about her theatre skills?

(SB): You know she was part of Uday Shankar's Ballet group, so, she was a dancer at that time. Then she became an actor (which she started to see as a career) and after that she wasn't dancer any longer. And she continued to be an actor throughout her life. I saw her last drama where she acted with her sister. She had a sister, Uzra Butt, she was also a very good dancer and worked together as a great pillar in Uday Shankar's group. But after partition Uzra settled in Pakistan and Zohra Sehgal went to England and then came to India. And remained in India only. But both the sisters came together for a play in which they acted together and that was a wonderful performance. Both of them were very good in their performance. She was a very good theatre artist, dancer and actress, she excelled in all three very well.

Q: At such age it is impossible to maintain such enthusiastic and sparkling personality. Did she influence you by any of her trait, which you wanted to see in your upcoming projects' character?

(SB): She had a enthusiasm like a child. She was so enthusiastic and full of life, at whatever age she had been. She was absolutely delightful person, if you knew her, you will realise that she had always become the life of the party. And that's not possible, how could she influence me. It's impossible to own such enviable figure, I mean she was successful in her life.

Q: The one film for which you will remember Zohra Sehgal ever? And why?

(SB): I saw her in theatre where she worked with her sister, as I told you before. In my childhood, I saw her in Uday Shankars' group. I even saw her movies with Amitabh Bachchan and several others in which she acted.

Q: Any plans of making documentary on the life of Zohra Sehgal? If yes, which part of Zohra's life you would like to focus on?

(SB): I didn't thought of it at the moment...I didn't.

Q: Why the big screen stars are moving toward small screen? What is compelling them to do so?

(SB): When you are an actor, when you get an opportunity where you feel that your talent can be  fully used, you can choose any platform i.e cinema or theatre or TV. Its hasn't mentioned anywhere that Bollywood actors need to stick to big screen only. People can choose, where ever they are willing to work. One can be theatre artist artist or cinematic actor as per his or her choice.

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