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  • Technorati: graph / links

    Jewish queens of Bollywood


    by Sunny on 1st July, 2009 at 2:02 am    

    Did you know that there was a time when Jewish women were among the leading ladies of Bollywood? No, neither did I.
    So, US Jewish magazine, Tablet, have sent this in to educate us:

    Rose Ezra. Ruby Myers. Farhat Ezekiel Nadira. From the earliest years of Bollywood, these and other Jewish actresses garnered starring roles. And while they may have looked somewhat exotic to moviegoers, they came from Baghdadi Jewish families who had been living in India for decades. Reporter Eric Molinsky speaks to film scholars, as well as friends and relatives of these once-beloved but now mostly forgotten stars of Indian cinema, to find out how they became the “go-to girls” for leading female roles in the 1920s, ’30s, and beyond.

    You can listen to the online podcast from here. This one’s for you bananabrain.



      |   Trackback link   |   Add to del.icio.us   |   Share on Facebook   |   Filed in: Culture, Current affairs, South Asia




    29 Comments below   |   Add your own

    1. dave bones — on 1st July, 2009 at 7:15 am  

      That is really interesting, especially in light of last nights dispatches about Mumbai. Did you watch it Sunny?

    2. Pickled Politics » Jewish queens of Bollywood — on 1st July, 2009 at 7:42 am  

      [...] View post: Pickled Politics » Jewish queens of Bollywood [...]

    3. billericaydicky — on 1st July, 2009 at 9:16 am  

      I saw the despatches thing. Very interesting how the only policeman to actually try to engage the terrorists was armed with a Second World War Lee Enfield 303 which jammed.

      It is many a year since I have been there and still cal it Bombay, fuck the BJP,but always found it a laid back place especially for Europeans although I was always in the company of Indians.

      I don’t suppose too many of you out there read the Telgraph although I find it a useful antidote to the Guardian and there was a really good article on Saturday about white actresses who struggle for work in the UK making it big in Bollywood.

      ” A combination of the recession-hit showbusiness industry in Britain and an increasing demand for white performers has spurred an estimated 1000 British actors and dancers to move to Mumbai in the past three years,according to casting directors”.

      The director of the Globosport Modelling Agency Debjoy Ray said ” Ten years ago there were hardly white girls working in Bollywood now they are everywhere. Indians have a liking for white skin”.

      This is a slightly different take on the ads that used to be in the Indian papers offering “Wheat complexioned” brides and skin lightening creams. I,ll see if I can find a fax number and send it to you.

    4. Ravendome — on 1st July, 2009 at 9:48 am  

      Yes, good to be reminded about this fascinating bit of the Bombay film industry’s history. ‘Farhat Ezekiel Nadira’ is the actress who was billed as ‘Nadira’, the vamp in Shree 420 who mouths and dances to the well-known oldie song “Mud Mud Ke Na Dekh”.

      Mihir Bose’s ‘Bollywood: A History’(2007) is very good read and covers the predominance of Jewish actress at that time.

    5. 1mongrel — on 1st July, 2009 at 10:44 am  

      The Parsees got there first-

      http://in.movies.yahoo.com/news-detail/6121/Parsees-founder-of-Indian-cinema.html

    6. munir — on 1st July, 2009 at 12:12 pm  

      billeracy dicky
      “This is a slightly different take on the ads that used to be in the Indian papers offering “Wheat complexioned” brides and skin lightening creams. I,ll see if I can find a fax number and send it to you.”

      thanks dicky - this will be a total shock to Asians

    7. Jai — on 1st July, 2009 at 12:35 pm  

      Interestingly, there are a number of well-known contemporary or historical personalities here in the West who have some Indian ancestry too.

      For example:

      The historian Willian Dalrymple, who stumbled across a Bengali ancestor while he was undertaking research for his book White Mughals.

      Nicolette Sheridan from Desperate Housewives and (previously) Knots Landing, whose great-grandmother was Punjabi.

      Lord Liverpool, British Prime Minister from 1812-1827, who had Indian ancestry via his mother’s side of the family.

      The actress Diana Quick, via her paternal family.

      The model & presenter Melanie Sykes, whose mother is Anglo-Indian.

      The impressionist Alistair McGowan, who has Bengali ancestry on the paternal side of his family.

      The actress Rhona Mitra, who has also has Bengali ancestry on the paternal side of her family.

      The late actor Boris Karloff, whose had both Bengali and Anglo-Indian ancestors.

      The late actress Merle Oberon, born in Bombay, who had Sri Lankan ancestors via her Anglo-Ceylonese mother.

    8. Jai — on 1st July, 2009 at 12:47 pm  

      Willian Dalrymple

      “William“, obviously.

      Someone needs to fix PP’s edit function.

    9. billaricaydickey — on 1st July, 2009 at 12:50 pm  

      @7 And obviously millions of Africans, West Indians and Asians who have the genes of a dozen European tribes in the.

    10. Jai — on 1st July, 2009 at 1:09 pm  

      And obviously millions of…..Asians who have the genes of a dozen European tribes in the.

      “Proto-Indo-European” tribes, to use the correct term. An ancestry which South Asians in general are well aware of, especially those who originate from the north and northwest of the subcontinent.

      ****************************************

      Anyway…..

      Speaking of celebrities with mixed-race ancestry, let’s not forget The King (of Rock & Roll, not Pop) — Elvis actually had some Native American ancestors, specifically Cherokee.

    11. chairwoman — on 1st July, 2009 at 2:18 pm  

      “Speaking of celebrities with mixed-race ancestry, let’s not forget The King (of Rock & Roll, not Pop) — Elvis actually had some Native American ancestors, specifically Cherokee.”

      And Jewish :)

    12. Imran Khan — on 1st July, 2009 at 2:40 pm  

      Chairwoman - I didn’t know this until last year but Jews contributed massively to comic books as well.

      This is only a summary:

      http://www.myjewishlearning.com/culture/2/Literature/Jewish_American_Literature/Into_the_Literary_Mainstream/Comic_Books.shtml

      Also:

      http://jewishcomics.blogspot.com/

      http://theshpiel.org/2008/11/up-up-and-oy-vey-jews-in-comics/

      This article about Jewish women in Bollywood - who would have thought it!

    13. chairwoman — on 1st July, 2009 at 3:21 pm  

      Astonishing! I knew about the comic books, but Bollywood?

      My neighbours at my last house were Jews from Phoona, and they spoke Hindi at home (and in the corner shop, the Post Office, the greengrocer…).

      When their daughter got married it was an amalgam of three cultures, and one of the nicest weddings I’ve ever been to.

      And very Bollywood.

    14. Vikrant — on 1st July, 2009 at 3:25 pm  

      “Proto-Indo-European” tribes, to use the correct term. An ancestry which South Asians in general are well aware of, especially those who originate from the north and northwest of the subcontinent.

      Jai,

      You’d be surprised to find that Aryan invasion/migration theory isn’t as solid as it sounds. There is very scant DNA, archeological or written evidence for any of the theories propounded for origins of Vedic culture. You should check out the excellent books on this subject by Edwin Bryant, The Quest for the Origins of Vedic Culture: The Indo-Aryan Migration Debate and the Indo-Aryan controversey.

    15. Vikrant — on 1st July, 2009 at 3:49 pm  

      My neighbours at my last house were Jews from Phoona, and they spoke Hindi at home (and in the corner shop, the Post Office, the greengrocer…).

      Did you mean Pune (or Poona for the British Raj)? Interestingly were they Bene Israelis?

    16. Jai — on 1st July, 2009 at 3:56 pm  

      Vikrant,

      It’s a complicated subject and one I don’t think we should discuss on this thread (particularly as it’s completely off-topic and will result in the thread rapidly becoming wrecked if others join in), but there is actually quite a lot of genetic, archeological and linguistic evidence, along with considerable similarities in the religious beliefs/practices and societal structures of the various groups descended from Proto-Indo-Europeans.

      Some initial online reading material here (make sure you go through all the links too, including those in the box on the top-right-hand-side):

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo-Europeans

      ************************************

      On a lighter note, I’m still (pleasantly) stunned that Nicolette Sheridan is part-Punjabi. Who knew ?

      And Chairwoman is of course correct about the late great Mr Presley having some Jewish roots too.

    17. Imran Khan — on 1st July, 2009 at 4:25 pm  

      Chairwoman - Here’s another one that may suprise you. One of the most popular documentaries in the Muslim world on the life of the Prophet - Muhammed - Legacy of a Prophet was produced by a Jewish man and even more amazing is the company that produced it is part owned by a Sikh woman - his wife.

      Most Muslims I have met who have seen this love this documentary.

      “At a time when many Americans may simply view Islam as a religion of the sword, the show’s creators say they hope to present a much-needed corrective: ’’We happen to be finishing this at a moment in history when the perceived need for this type of programming has skyrocketed to a point none of us could have imagined when we began,’’ said Michael Schwarz, the show’s executive director.

      A ’’nice Jewish boy,’’ he jokes, Schwarz was constantly surprised by what he learned about Muhammad; for instance, that Muhammad venerated Moses, Jesus, and all the monotheistic prophets, and required his followers to do the same. ’’So many of us know so little about Islam,’’ he said, ’’that once you begin to learn about it, it’s full of surprises.’’”
      http://www.chowk.com/articles/5692

      Who would have thought!

    18. Shatterface — on 1st July, 2009 at 4:29 pm  

      ‘Chairwoman – I didn’t know this until last year but Jews contributed massively to comic books as well.’

      I doubt if most people could name a DC or Marvel hero NOT created by a Jewish artist or writer: Superman, Batman, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, Iron Man, etc.

      Mind you, Stan Lee skews it a bit.

    19. Paul Moloney — on 1st July, 2009 at 4:35 pm  

      Not many Jewish superheroes (the new Batwoman is both lesbian and Jewish however), but my favourite would have to be the Hebrew Hammer.

      P.

    20. Shatterface — on 1st July, 2009 at 4:45 pm  

      Lee also created The X -Men (with Jack Kirby): that’s possibly why their arch-enemy Holocaust survivor Magneto comes across more as an anti-hero rather than villain.

    21. chairwoman — on 1st July, 2009 at 4:54 pm  

      Poona, Vikrant Old Bean :)

    22. Shatterface — on 1st July, 2009 at 4:55 pm  

      I think Ben Grim (Fantastic 4’s The Thing) is Jewish and while Peter Parker isn’t, Spider-Man’s wise-cracks and exclamations (’Oy!) show a definite influence, especially in The New Avengers (written by Brian Michael Bendis, also Jewish).

    23. Shatterface — on 1st July, 2009 at 4:59 pm  

      Wow - from Wikipedia, far more than I thought:

      Superheroes and villains of Jewish religion
      Ragman (Rory Regan (changed from Reganowicz by grandfather), DC Comics).
      Captain Underpants alias Principal Benny Krupp.[142]
      Colossal Boy (Gim Allon, DC Comics)(Legion of Superheroes) [143]
      The God of Cartoons By; Paul Palnik Creative Light Press. [5]
      Doc Samson (Dr. Leonard Samson, Marvel Comics).[144]
      Fathom of the Elementals, by Bill Willingham.[145]
      Hayoth (Israeli superhero team)
      Batwoman of (Kathy Kane, DC Comics)
      Justice (Vance Astrovik, formerly Marvel Boy of the New Warriors) (Marvel Comics).[146]
      Masada (Team Youngblood).[147]
      Prime (Kevin Green, Malibu Comics).[148]
      Sabra (Ruth Bat-Seraph, Marvel Comics).[149]
      Shadowcat (Kitty Pryde) of the X-Men (Marvel Comics).[150]
      The Thing (Benjamin J. Grimm, Marvel Comics) A former non-practicing Jew who recently (and belatedly) had his Bar Mitzvah[151][152]
      Volcana (Marsha Rosenberg, Marvel Comics).[153]
      Shaloman[154][155][156][157][158]
      [edit]Superheroes and villains of Jewish ethnicity (only)
      Iceman (Bobby Drake, Marvel Comics) - half-Jewish.[159]
      Moon Knight (Marc Spector, Marvel Comics) Moon Knight (1st series) #37 May 1984 Marvel Comics.[160]
      Sandman (Golden Age) (DC Comics) - half-Jewish.[161]
      Gertrude Yorkes of the Runaways (Marvel Comics) - Jewish family, currently agnostic.[162]
      Magneto (Marvel Comics) - born Max Eisenhardt, a Jewish boy in Germany during the Nazi era, Magneto is a survivor of Auschwitz, but turned his back on his human ethnicity and religion and has for years only identified himself as a mutant. However, his experiences with anti-Semitism during the Holocaust in Europe were and are a major influence on his quest to fight against anti-mutant oppression.[163][164][165]
      Scarlet Witch — Wanda Maximoff — self-identifies with the Roma people, raised by Roma, her mother Magda was Roma, and an Auschwitz survivor, but her father Magneto was born Jewish.[166]
      Quicksilver (comics) — Pietro Maximoff — he has not so completely identified himself with the Roma, but like his twin sister Wanda Maximoff, was raised by the Roma and his mother was Roma, while his father is the Jewish Magneto.[167]
      Nyssa Raatko — Jewish mother, non-practicing.[126]
      The Thing (Fantastic Four).[151][168]
      Wiccan (comics) — raised by Jewish parents, alleged son of Scarlet Witch.
      Zim Markus Zimmerman USLA half-Jewish His is of Jewish heritage His mother was Irish There is no telling whether religion ever played a major role in his life is questionable. He did, however, have a bar mitzvah. He is Agnostic, but leans towards polytheism.
      Psycho Janus Stine USLA Probably of fully Jewish heritage, went to Yashiva for about a week before transferring to The High school of the Performing Arts.
      Harley Quinn (Harleen Quinzel, Batman) She has told several people in the comics that she is Jewish.

    24. Vikrant — on 1st July, 2009 at 9:25 pm  

      but there is actually quite a lot of genetic, archeological and linguistic evidence, along with considerable similarities in the religious

      Linguistic yes… but genetic studies have show that Northern Indians and Southern Indians are closer to each other than anyone else.

    25. Celtlord — on 1st July, 2009 at 11:45 pm  

      wow you ‘ll are a racist lot, without a doubt.

    26. Jai — on 2nd July, 2009 at 9:01 am  

      Vikrant,

      As I said at the start of #16…..

      It’s a complicated subject and one I don’t think we should discuss on this thread

      ;)

    27. Celtlord — on 2nd July, 2009 at 5:48 pm  

      Anyone here listen to Asian Dub foundation? The last album I got from them included a tune which had a line, I paraphrase, ” no Arab/Iraqi ever called me paki”. My family is quite large and mixed, we have Sikhs, Followers of islam, all Punjabis, with a dash of Pathan, Christians, atheists, loads of agnostics, and any day of the week a couple of Buddhists. We have all, brutal critiques of each others beliefs, and as family always comes first our conversations/debates are stimulating and passionate, with no damage to individual relationships, Family First, It is the clannish Scottish blood.

      A topic that came up at a gathering, was whether the terms “Gorha, Apna, kaffir” fell into the same bag as say “paki, kike, or nigger” in that their usage is racist speak, the vast majority of us said, “Oh, ya!”

    28. Jewish queens of Bollywood — on 3rd July, 2009 at 12:41 am  

      [...] here to read the rest: Jewish queens of Bollywood AKPC_IDS += "14123,";Popularity: unranked [?] Comments [0]Digg [...]

    29. 1mongrel — on 3rd July, 2009 at 8:12 pm  

      27 “Anyone here listen to Asian Dub foundation? The last album I got from them included a tune which had a line, I paraphrase, ” no Arab/Iraqi ever called me paki”

      I suppose “Hairy Hobbit” is a term of affection then.



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