Uzra Butt

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Uzra Butt
Born Uzra Mumtaz
(1917-05-22)May 22, 1917
Rampur, Uttar Pradesh, India
Died May 31, 2010(2010-05-31) (aged 93)
Occupation stage actor, dancer
Years active 1937–2008

Uzra Butt (May 22, 1917 – May 31, 2010) was a theatre personality of the Indian Subcontinent,[1] who moved to Pakistan in 1964. She was the sister of theatre and Bollywood film actress Zohra Sehgal, who, unlike her, lived in India.

Starting in 1937, breaking traditional barriers, she and her sister joined with Uday Shankar ballet company as actors and dancers and toured through Europe and the United States. When World War II ended their tour, she joined IPTA and subsequently remained the leading lady with Prithvi Theatre in the 1940s and 1950s.

Early life[edit]

She was born as Uzra Mumtaz [2] in Rampur, India in a land-owning Muslim family of Mumtazullah Khan and Natiqua Begum, belonging to Rampur, Uttar Pradesh. She was fourth of her seven siblings – Zakullah, Hajrah, Zohra (Zohra Sehgal), Ikramullah, Anna and Sabira, and grew up in Chakrata, near Dehradun.


Zohra Segal and Uzra Butt part of the 'Uday Shankar Ballet Troupe', ca (1935–37).

She began her stage career with Uday Shankar's ballet company in 1937 and went on to become the leading lady of the famous Prithvi Theatre in 1940s and 50s.[2]

She entered Uday Shankar's ballet troupe as a dancer and also taught dance before joining the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA) in 1944 as an actress. Here Khwaja Ahmad Abbas cast her as the lead in the play Zubeda. Prithivi Raj Kapoor was impressed by her role and chose her as his lead heroine, Zohra too joined her. In the coming years, she played leading lady opposite Prithviraj Kapoor in Prithvi Theatre productions. She played a heroine's part in Sakuntala in 1944, partnering her sister in Ghaddar in 1948 and taking the lead role in Kisan and performed in 100 towns and cities all over India. Uzra Butt was also an art director of Prithvi theatre and worked for Prithvi theatre, till 1960, when it wrapped up.[2]

In 1964 she migrated to Pakistan with her husband, Hameed Butt. Here she formed a dance troupe in Rawalpindi, acted on stage and television from time to time and served the Pakistan National Council of the Arts.

Later she moved to Lahore and joined the Ajoka Theatre in October 1985. Her inaugural group performance was 'Chaak Chakkar' and she went on to act in the plays: Barri, Dukhini, Dukh Darya, Takey Da Tamasha, Talismati Tata, Teesri Dastak, Kali Ghata, Adhuri and Surak Gulaban Da Mousam. She assumed the leadership role of chairperson of the group.[3] She resumed acting after a forty year hiatus in 1993 when she performed in Aik Thi Nani with her sister Zohra Sehgal. They played the lead roles and the cast included their grandniece, Samiya Mumtaz and niece, Salima Raza. The play opened in Lahore in 2003 and toured India, Pakistan and Britain, including a performance at the Prithvi theare in 2004.[1][4] [5] Uzra was presented the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Acting (Urdu) in 1994 by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama; it is India's highest recognition that is presented to practicing artists.[6]

Her last stage performance was in 2008. She died in Lahore at age 93.[7]


  1. ^ a b Swarup, Harihar (24 August 2003). "Acting sisters — Zora and Uzra style". The Tribune (India). Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c Ali, Sarwat (June 2009). "Inspiration all along". The News on Sunday(Jang Group) (Pakistan). Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  3. ^ "Legendary theatre actress Uzra Butt dead at 93". The Times of India. June 1, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Real life drama". The Hindu. November 14, 2004. 
  5. ^ "Theatre actress Uzra Butt, sister of Zohra Sehgal, dies at 93". DNA (newspaper). June 2, 2010. 
  6. ^ "SNA: List of Akademi Awardees". Sangeet Natak Akademi Official website. 
  7. ^ "Theatre actress Uzra Butt passes away". Sakaal Times. Press Trust of India. 1 June 2010. Retrieved 2 June 2010.