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October 10: Bollywood’s Sulochana

October 10, 2013

ff218f55-d706-4714-8926-a8ee20cbf835HiResIndia’s silent film star and movie producer, Sulochana, whose real name was Ruby Myers, died in Mumbai at 76 on this date in 1983. Discovered while working as a telephone operator, she became, in her heyday, one of the highest paid actresses in the industry. Her popular films included Typist Girl (1926), Balidaan (1927) and Wildcat of Bombay (1927), in which she played eight roles, including a policeman, a gentleman, a street urchin, and a European blonde. When sound came to Indian cinema, Sulochana took a year off to learn Hindustani, then made a grand comeback with the talkie version of Madhuri (1932), and Sulochana the following year. In mid-1930s, Myers opened Rubi Pics, a film production house. In 1973, she was awarded the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, India’s highest award in cinema, for lifetime achievement. She died, however, impoverished and in isolation. Other Jewish leading ladies in Indian cinema were Rose Ezra and Farhat Ezekiel Nadira. They all came from Baghdadi Jewish backgrounds.

“Sulochana (Ruby Myers) did not have enough money to pay the monthly rent for her flat on Warden Road. . . . We decided to launch the Filmfare Old Artistes Benevolent Fund. . .” —B. K. Karanjia, film critic