Kol Shalom Movie Night returns (via Zoom) on Saturday, November 12 at 7 PM with a presentation of the 2018, 76 minute long documentary, Shalom Bollywood. This movie reveals the unlikely story of the 2,000+ year old Indian Jewish community and its formative place in shaping the world’s largest film industry.
When Indian cinema began 100 years ago, it was taboo for Hindu and Islamic women to perform on screen, so Indian Jewish women, who were more liberal and progressive, took on female lead roles, which they then dominated for decades. Shalom Bollywood tells its tale through the lives of nice Jewish girls who became icons at the heart of Indian cinema. From the 1920s silent era to the 1960s we meet Sulochana (aka Ruby Myers), Miss Rose (aka Rose Ezra), Pramila (aka Esther Abraham who became the country’s first Miss India) and the quintessential Bollywood vamp Nadira (aka Farhat Ezekiel). They pushed the boundaries of Indian cinema to make Bollywood what it is today, which included the first dance, the first kiss, the first talkie and the first color film.
The personal lives of these film stars tell the broader Indian Jewish story. The earliest record of Jews settling in India were the Cochin Jews who arrived in 562 BCE and again in 70 CE after the second destruction of the temple. The Jewish population peaked at between 20,000 and 50,000 before India’s independence. Today it is estimated to be about 5,000, while 80,000 Jews of Indian descent live in Israel. Don’t miss this unique movie or you’ll be Sari!