Jews, the lost tribe of Indian Cinema

A very interesting article

At a time it is reaching out to many countries, Bollywood seems to be losing out on a legacy – its Indian Jewish benefactors.

Their role in the Hindi film industry, especially during the pre-independence, silent era, was of great importance but is now largely forgotten – except in scholarly circles.

Not surprising since the number of Jews, consisting of three major lineages in India (Cochinis, Baghdadis and Bene Israelis), has fallen from some 30,000 in 1948 to about 5,500 today – after living in the country for over 2,000 years.

When India started producing films in the early 20th century, it was taboo for Hindu and Muslim women from “respectable” families to play the lead roles.

“The Jewish community, owing to the far more Westernised bringing-up, was more liberal when it came to acting in movies, especially by the womenfolk,” the Indian Jewish Federation’s founder chairman Jonathan Samuel Solomon told IANS.

Solomon, a Bene Israel whose grandfather Solomon Moses ran the Bombay Film Lab Pvt Ltd from the 1940s to 1990s, will soon travel to Israel to interact with Indian Jews who have now settled there.

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