Bollywood once had a Jewish connection
Up until the 1920s, Bollywood could not find female actors.
Acting was not considered worthy of ‘good’ women. So men were shaving off or hiding their moustaches, and wearing saris to play women’s roles. Eventually, the women came. But they were not Hindus or Muslims. They were Jews.
An Australian academic and documentary filmmaker, Danny Ben-Moshe, travels back in time to document this little-known aspect of the Hindi film industry in his documentary Shalom Bollywood. Translated from Hebrew, it means ‘Hello Bollywood’.
Ben-Moshe says, “For Hindu and Muslim women of that time, acting in films was not a respectable profession. But Jewish families living in India, both the Bene Israelis and Baghdadi Jews, were comparatively more liberal. And their women, with their lighter skin and western looks, scorched the screen.”