Parsi- A Community that rose in the principles of “GOOD WORDS, GOOD THOUGHTS and GOOD DEEDS” are the smallest community in India, yet they have exercised a huge influence on the country.
Mumbai is a home to several Parsis and they are an integral part of the life and Culture of Mumbai. They continue to mark their presence in every sector of the society irrespective of the industry. They have made their mark in various facets of life right from sports, entertainment or entrepreneurship.
This article highlights a few of the Parsis who have a commendable contribution towards the growth of the Indian cinema particularly Bollywood.
1) – Ardeshir Irani
He is, and will be, remembered as the person who gave voice to Indian movies. He directed the film “Alam Ara” in 1931. He made movies in several languages and immortalised his name among the early contributors of Bollywood.
2) – Daisy Irani
One of the oldest Parsi actor, she was a popular child artist in the 50s and 60s. She generally played the role of a little boy along with her younger sister Honey Irani. Some of her most remembered movies, include JagteRaho, NayaDaur, Hum PanchiEk Dal Ke.
3) – Honey Irani
She too started her career as a child actress; she turned to script writing after her marriage with renowned lyricists Javed Akhtar went sour. The first film to have been penned down by her wasLamhe. Her other films are Darr, Kaho Na Pyar Hai, Koi Mil Gaya and Krsish etc. She is the mother of Farhan and Zoya Akhtar and meternal aunt of Farah Khan and Sajid Khan.
4) –Zubin Mehta
Zubin Mehta is an India born Conductor of western Classical music. He is the Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (IPO), with which he conducted over three thousand concerts over five decades, including tour spanning most continents. In 1965, he received an honorary doctorate from Sir George Williams University, which later became Concordia University.
The Government of India honoured him in 1966 with the Padma Bhushan and in 2001 with India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan. In September 2013, President of India Pranab Mukherjee awarded him the Tagore Award 2013 for his outstanding contribution towards cultural harmony.
5) – Shammi Aunty
She was born as Nargis Rabadi, but has always been called as beloved Shammi Aunty. Starting her Career as a supporting actress in Begum Para and Ustad Pedro, she has completed more than 6 decades in the industry. She also remembered for her sweet and simple role of Mausi ji in Hum Saath-Saath Hain.
6) – Boman Irani
This Man needs no introduction. He is an Actor par-excellence. Born into a Parsi family, Boman is a professional photographer, singer and actor. He started with advertisements for Fanta and Krackjack biscuits and later featured in movies like Munabhai M.B.B.S., LageRahoMunabhai, 3 Idiots and many more.
7) – Shiamak Davar
Ace Choreographer Shiamak Davar has been titled of being ‘The Guru” of modern contemporary dance. He is known for his popular dance sequences in films like Taal, Kisna, Bunty aur Babli and Mission Impossible 4. He also judged the second season of celebrity dance reality show “jhalakdikhlajaa”.
8) – Perizaad Zorabian
She made her Bollywood debut in Nagesh Kukunoor’s Bollywood Calling, while she gained recognition with Subash Ghai’s Joggers’ Park. She is also a member and brand ambassador of Jiyo Parsi Scheme launched by Government of India in 2013.
Indian art is richer today due to the contributions of a tiny community.
Parsis are of ancient Persian descent, and belong to the Indo-European branch of the Aryans.Unlike other foreigners who came to India to plunder, loot and rule, they assimilated with a quiet dignity into India’s history and contributed their extraordinary genius in every walk of life. As intelligent refugees, while guarding their own ethnic, cultural and religious identity with fierce pride, they were always mindful of their status and made friends wherever they went. As an ethnic group, Parsis have excelled in a way no other community has and it would seem that their upbringing and strong religious belief may be the reason for this.They have given back more than a thousand-fold in return to the land that gave them shelter a thousand years ago.
Many Parsis settled in Bombay when famine struck Gujarat in 1790. The city’s cosmopolitan outlook and its dynamic vitality brought out the Parsi’s natural zest for life and became a springboard for some of the most talented men and women from that community to take flight in their varied areas of expertise. Some of them are Dadabhai Naoroji, Sir Jamshedji Tata, JRD Tata, Ratan Tata, the Wadias and the Godrej clan, Homi Bhabha, Sam Maneckshaw, Madam Bhikaji Cama, Freddie Mercury, Boman Irani and the list is exhaustive!