Real Name – Rachel Cohen (daughter of Hayam Cohen, a schoolmaster)
Profession – Actress (Heroine)
Active Years – 1930s – 1950s
Nationality – Indian
Religion – Jewish
Ethnicity – Jewish
Date of Birth – 1917 (Bombay – India)
Date of Death – N/A
Debut Film– Calcutta After Midnight (1937)
Last Film – Stage (1951)
Significant others in the Film Industry – Dina (Daughter, Actress)
Miscellaneous Info- According to her daughter-in-law Barbara, “I married Ramola’s son Sam in 1959. He immigrated to Israel in the early 50s and lived in the desert town of Eilat. She only ever wrote a few letters to him. She had remarried and had a new family with a Captain from the British Air-force, who were in India to train pilots. As far as Sam was concerned she really had pushed him under the table. Both her husbands were not of the Jewish faith but her first husband was made to convert and marry her as he had made her pregnant at the age of 16”
Ramola is best remembered as the leading lady of Khazanchi (1941). Khazanchi’s music composed by Master Ghulam Haider was instrumental in revolutionizing the Hindi film music from the theatrical and complex ’30s style to more freewheeling style using Punjabi folk rhythms and extensively featuring percussion instruments like the dholak. Sawan Kai Nazare hain from Khazanchi sung by Shamshad Begum and Ghulam Haider was one of the biggest hits of early 40s and was picturized on Ramola, S.D. Narang and friends.
Ramola was a stage actress and it was Jagdish Sethi who introduced her to director/lyricist/dialogue writer Kidar Sharma. According to Kidar Sharma, “She was smart and a charming young lady. Her only drawback was her height. She was not tall, but she had lofty ambitions. One day she came to see me and I promised I would personally take her to the director of her choice. She said, “I would like to be introduced to Mr. Nitin Bose, and no one else.” I took her to Mr. Bose, and was sure that her charm and talent would impress him.
Mr. Bose scanned her, from top to toe, while I praised her talent and her choice of a director, like Nitin Bose. After a long silence, Mr. Bose addressed me and said, “When you brought her to me, why did you forget to bring some bricks for her to stand on?” Poor Romola was hurt and heart-broken by this great director’s caustic remark. She quietly said, “Goodbye” and walked away from his office.
I followed her and found that she was in tears. ‘I was moved by the plight of a struggling youngster having high hopes, being ridiculed for something which nature was responsible for. I knew what it felt like to be ridiculed. I had experienced it often enough. I escorted her to the tram junction and there she bid me goodbye. To encourage her, I said, “Please, Romola, don’t be heart-broken. One day, when I become a director, you will be my first heroine, and we will prove to Mr. Bose and the world, what a great star you are.” Romola laughed and said,- “Poor Mr. Kidarnath, the dialogue-writer will never be a director and I will never be a heroine.” So saying, she jumped into the tram.”
However, Kidar Sharma kept his promise and cast her in his first film as director Aulad / Dil Hi Tou Hai (1939). Aulad/Dil Hi To hai was a down-to-earth story of a middle-class father, who had sacrificed all his life to educate his son and is darling daughter, hoping that they would be worthy children to the society and to the family. Little did the old man know that the generation gap would present a different, horrifying reality, which would destroy him completely. The modern college Miss, who destroys the dreams of her old father, the aged struggling middleclass man, was played by Ramola.
After the success of the film, Ramola got romantically involved with R.C. Talwar, Kidar Sharma’s assistant who later became a director in his own right. According to Kidar Sharma, “R.C. Talwar was a classmate and friend so I ignored his relationship with Ramola.”
Later Ramola appeared in many films including Qaidi, Khazanchi, Khamoshi, Swan Aya Re, Rim Jhim etc. After the arrival of new heroines including Madhubala, Nargis, Meena Kumari etc, Ramola’s career got eclipsed and she bid farewell to her film career. Her last 3 films Actor, Jawani Ki Aag and Stage were released in 1951.
Filmographies might not be 100% accurate or complete because of various reasons including artistes with similar names