With the recent visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel,the idea of Jewish contribution to Bollywood came in my mind. The Jewish contributed to Indian films in different ways: as actors – Sulochana, the first female superstar; Rose, a popular starlet; Pramila, the first Miss India; Nadira, the “quintessential vamp” who starred in several films of Raj Kapoor, writers (Joseph David Penkar, who was also a lyricist and playwright, wrote India’s first talkie, Alam Ara), publicist (Bunny Reuben).The person born on 50s,to 70s are familar with the Character artist David,Nadira and Sulochna
Jewish people's contribution in Indian cinema started from the era of silent films to the end of the 20th century. The Jewish were active in Bollywood during the period – the ’30s and the ’40s – when anti-Semitism was at its peak in other parts of the world.
When Indian cinema began, it was taboo for Hindu and Islamic women to appear on screen, so initially female roles were played by men, the Jewish community inIndia was more liberal and progressive and they were prepared to take these role[s]. The fact that they had lighter skin made them all the more suited for celluloid.Initially the cinema was silent so it was easy for the jewish ladies to play the female lead as the language was not a barrier to them.They coldn't speak Hindi or Urdu.
During the silent era, most of India’s film stars were Jewish. But barring a few, they could not continue with their successful careers once the talkies were introduced as they were incapable of delivering dialogues in Hindi because of their Anglicised upbringing.
While in the early days of Hollywood the Jewish influence was behind the camera, in India it was front-and-center onscreen, but there were some important exemptions to this. Foremost of these is the scriptwriter David Joseph Penkar, who wrote the first talkie in India cinema, “Alam Ara” in 1931 that established the template Indian film was to follow.
Ramala Devi was born as Rachel Cohen. She is known for her work on Hit film Khazanchi (1941),one of her famous movies was Hum Bhi Insaan Hain (1948) with Dev Anand and .
Beside Herman his brother who was popularly known as Baba Herman in the Film Industry worked with his brother Hermanji. He worked in most of Hermanji's films as a lead dancer and later he too became a choreographer. Herman Benjamin passed away on 13th September 1968 early morning at 4 am and was just 37 years old.
David Joseph Penkar was a prolific playwright, screenwriter, director, and lyricist.He wrote the first talkie in India cinema, “Alam Ara” in 1931 He also wrote and directed in Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, and Urdu while being fluent in Hebrew and English. Like many other members of the Bene Israel community, he lived in the cosmopolitan environment of Bombay without losing either his Jewish or Indian roots.
Ezra Mir was an Indian film-maker, known for his documentary films.His Jewish birth name was Edwyn Meyers. After working originally as a stage actor, he moved to New York in 1924 and started working in film, first as an actor and then later as an editor. During this period he also made his first short film, The Symbolesque (1929).