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Who knew that Jews—specifically Jewish women—dominated Bollywood for the first half of its 100-year history? When it was taboo for Hindu and Muslim women to perform on screen, actresses from the small but progressive Indian Jewish community stepped in front of the camera and reigned over the world’s largest film industry. This entertaining documentary, 11 years in the making, is chock-full of rich and rare archival clips, and features profiles of six legends of the Indian screen: sultry Sulochana (Ruby Meyers), who in the 1927’s WILD CAT OF BOMBAY played eight different characters (some male); Miss Rose (Rose Ezra), the queen of Bollywood’s racy party scene in the 1930s; Pramila (Esther Abraham), one of the first female producers and the first Miss India in 1947; Nadira (Farhat Ezekiel) the quintessential Bollywood vamp in the 1950s and ’60s golden era of Indian cinema; David Joseph Penkar, who wrote the first talkie in 1931; and the revered Uncle David (David Abraham), who appeared in over 100 films. Unlike Hollywood, the lack of anti-Semitism helped them push the boundaries of Indian cinema (i.e., the first dance, first kiss, and first color film) and make Bollywood what it is today.
Community Partner: Department of Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media | University of Washington