Monday, 27 June 2011

Filming Shalom Bollywood

This blog post was first published on my other blog, in May 2010. Since then, I've visited India for the first time, and am starting work on a longer piece of writing involving my great-grandfather.
As well as all the excitement of 'Centuries of Skin' coming out, I've also been involved in a very interesting project.
I've been interviewed and have read a poem for a documentary film, 'Shalom Bollywood'. Many of India's early Bollywood pioneers and stars were Indian Jews, a part of Jewish and Indian heritage that not many people know about.
The documentary is being made by Danny Ben-Moshe, a filmmaker and academic, for his film company Identity Films. He has been flying all over the world, interviewing descendants of these Bollywood Jews.

This is a link to a clip of the film:

I was delighted to have been invited to talk about my great-grandfather's achievements for the film, especially 'Alam Ara' and am really looking forward to seeing it. Thanks, Danny, and good luck with the funding.

I will put more info on this blog about release dates, etc, nearer the time.

This is the poem I read, for my great-grandfather Joseph David Penkar, a Bollywood scriptwriter, director, producer, songwriter, and also playwright.

For Joseph David

This book-lined room is backdrop
for your modest gaze. Photographed
without your furry Russian hat- Dad remembers
how you wore it through the heat and dust.
Did you take it off, close the shutters
at mid-day to write, could you hear

your audience applaud from market stalls,
rickshaws, your mind flickering
past the reels of languages you spoke,
the silhouettes of stories, waves of ragaas?
You wrote as if the silver screen
was big enough to hold a world

where your descendants would scatter -
England, Ahmedabad, Israel, Canada.