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Ruby Myers Wins Dada Saheb Phalke Award

October 25, 1974

Ruby Myers, later known as Sulochana, was an Indian actress from the Baghdadi Jewish community. She was one of the highest-paid actresses of her time and even opened her own film production studio, Rubi Pics. On October 25, 1974, she won the Dada Saheb Phalke Award, Indian cinema’s most prestigious lifetime achievement award, for her impact on the history of Indian cinema.

Myers was born in Pune in 1907 to an Iraqi Jewish family, part of a community of Baghdadi Jews who came to India in the late eighteenth century. Although the community displayed both Arabic and Indian cultural influences and impulses, many Baghdadi Jews also incorporated British culture into their daily lives, amalgamating disparate cultural elements to create a distinct identity. Like many of her Baghdadi Jewish counterparts, Myers contributed greatly to Indian society, becoming an essential member of Indian cinematic history and cultural identity.

Myers was discovered while working as a telephone operator in Pune. Mohan Bhavnani, a prolific film producer, approached her and asked her to act in his films but she refused, citing the “immorality” of women in such professions. Nevertheless, Bhavani’s persistence persuaded her and she began acting for his film company, Kohinoor, in 1925. Her stardom fully blossomed when she began acting in romantic films in 1928. The advent of sound on film, which required actors to be proficient in Hindustani, posed a threat to her career, but she learned the language after only a year of study. Myers’ superstardom and versatility as a young actress eventually earned her a salary higher than that of the Governor of India and a priceless place in the history of Indian cinema.

In 2013, 35 years after her death, Myers was honored by having her image placed on a postage stamp. Her influence on the Indian film industry played a major part in the 2017 documentary Shalom Bollywood, which explored the Jewish influence on Indian cinema.



“Female Pioneers in International Cinema – Ruby Myers Aka Sulochana.” Golden Globes, https://www.goldenglobes.com/articles/female-pioneers-international-cinema-ruby-myers-aka-sulochana.  

“Ruby Myers.” Academic Dictionaries and Encyclopedias, https://en-academic.com/dic.nsf/enwiki/1812843

Bollywoodirect. “Remembering Ruby Myers (1907–10 October 1983), Better Known by Her Stage Name Sulochana on Her 111th birthday” Medium, Medium, 10 Aug. 2018, https://bollywoodirect.medium.com/remembering-ruby-myers-1907-10-october-1983-better-known-by-her-stage-name-sulochana-on-her-862301bf33b.

Chowdhury, Anindita. “Ruby Myers: The Jewish-Indian Mega Film Star We Don't Remember: #Indianwomeninhistory.” Feminism In India, February 14, 2020, https://feminisminindia.com/2020/02/14/ruby-myers-jewish-indian-mega-film-star/


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Indian Jewish actress Ruby Myers (also known as Sulochana), 1920s

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ruby Myers Wins Dada Saheb Phalke Award." (Viewed on March 22, 2023) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/oct/25/1974/ruby-myers-wins-dada-saheb-phalke-award>.


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