David Abraham Cheulkar (1909 – December 28, 1981), popularly known as David, was a Jewish-Indian Hindi film actor and a member of Mumbai's Marathi speaking Bene Israel community. In a career spanning four decades, he played mostly character roles, starting with 1941 film Naya Sansar, and went on to act in over 110 films, including memorable films like, Gol Maal (1979), Baton Baton Mein (1979) and Boot Polish (1954) for which he was awarded the 1955 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award.[1]

Early life

David graduated from the University of Bombay with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the year 1930. After a six year unsuccessful struggle to land himself a job, he decided to try his luck in the Hindi film industry by becoming a professional actor. During these years of struggle, he also managed to obtain a degree in law from the Government Law College.

Finally, on January 15, 1937, with the help of his close friend Mr. Nayampalli, a veteran character actor, he managed to land himself his first role in a movie. The movie was Zambo and it was being produced and directed by Mohan Bhavnani who was the Chief Producer of the Films Division of the Government of India. [2]


David was actively associated with IPTA, a theatre organization and went on to be part of many Khwaja Ahmad Abbas's films, including, Palme d'Or nominee Pardesi (1957),[3]Shehar Aur Sapna (1963), which won the 1964 National Film Award for Best Feature Film, Munaa and Char Dil Char Raahein.

Strongly associated with friendly uncle roles, David is best known for his portrayal of "John Chacha" [4] in the 1954 hit and Filmfare Award for Best Film winner and Palme d'Or nominee,[5]Boot Polish, directed by Prakash Arora, for which he won the 1955 Filmfare Best Supporting Actor Award.[6] The song "Nanhe Munne Bachche" from the film, picturized with him became a memorable song of that era.

In his prime, in the period 1959-1975, David was one of the best and the well-known anchor, compere and the host of the prominent award shows and other functions.[7] In one of the speeches Jawaharlal Nehru, the prime minister, told any of the event will be surely be incomplete without David's speech.

He was involved in promoting sports,[7][8] and later became India's Olympic Games representative[9] He was awarded the Padma Shri award in 1969 by Government of India.[10]

He never married and died on 28 December 1981 in Toronto, Canada of a heart attack at the age of 73.[11]

Selected filmography


  1. ^ "Bollywood once had a Jewish connection Published: Sunday,,". DNA (newspaper). Mar 6, 2011. 
  2. ^ "David Abraham's interview in 1956 - Cineplot.com". 
  3. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Journey Beyond Three Seas". festival-cannes.com. 
  4. ^ Vail, p. 118
  5. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Boot Polish". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  6. ^ List of Filmfare Award Winners and Nominations, 1953-2005
  7. ^ a b Benjamin J. Israel (1998). The Jews of India. Mosaic Books. p. 200. ISBN 81-85399-43-3. 
  8. ^ Vail, p. 120
  9. ^ Sight & Sound (British Film Institute). 26-27: p. 200. 1957.  Missing or empty |title= (help); |accessdate= requires |url= (help) CS1 maint: Extra text (link)
  10. ^ "Padma Awards Directory (1954-2009)" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs. 
  11. ^ Sir Stanley Reed; The Times of India (1984). "Deaths, 1982: January 1". The Times of India directory and year book including who's who. Bennett, Coleman & Co. p. 836. Death date January 1, 1982 
  12. ^ "Bambai Raat Ki Bahon Mein (1968)". The Hindu. April 8, 2012. Retrieved May 2, 2013. 
  • Shalṿah Ṿail (2006). India's Jewish heritage: Ritual, Art & Life-Cycle. Mārg Publications. ISBN 81-85026-58-0. 

External links