Thursday, June 13, 2013
Shalom Bollywood coming to a screen near you
Trailer for 'Shalom Bollywood'by Australian film-maker Danny Ben-Moshe
Shalom Bollywood: the untold story of Indian cinema is a feature length documentary about India's Jewish film stars, told in the style and feel of a Bollywood film. Its Australian director Danny Ben-Moshe has spent six years assembling information for his film. He claims it will 'reveal the unknown history of India’s tiny 2000 year old Indian Jewish (Bene Israel) community' . But several female superstars are from the 'white' Baghdadi Jewish community, who migrated to India as recently as the 19th century (with thanks: Gavin).
The film website says: "When Indian cinema began 100 years ago it was taboo for Hindu and Islamic women to perform on screen, so female roles were played by men – sort of Monty Python or Shakespearian style. While the conservative nature of Hindu and Muslim societies shunned the notion of female performers, the Jewish community was more liberal and educated and willing to embrace the exciting new medium of film. The fact that Indian Jews were a lighter shade of brown made these women seem all the more suited for celluloid. However, because of their stage names people thought they were Muslims.
"The story is told through the glamorous and often tumultuous lives of the famed Jewish actresses who, from the earliest days of Silent film through to the end of the twentieth century, passed the cinema queen baton onto each other and shaped what was to become the world’s largest film industry."
Michael Kaminer interviews Danny Ben Moshe in The Forward Prominent Baghdadi women in India The Iraqi-Jewish vamps of Indian cinema