Ezra Mir (1924–1993)
A PIONEER IN DOCUMENTARY FILM
Mir changed his birth name, Edwyn Myers, to Ezra Mir to make his name more Indian sounding. He first worked as a stage actor and moved to New York in 1924 to work in the film industry. He was first an actor and then started editing film. During this period he made Symbolesque, his first short film (1929).
He returned to India in 1931 and joined Imperial Film Company, that was set up by Ardershir Irani in 1926. At Imperial, Mir directed Noorjehan (1931). He soon left Imperial for Sagar Film Company where Mir directed films like Zarina (1932) and other Parsee Theatre derived films.
Mir then joined Madan Theatres in 1934-5 where he made many films till Madan Theaters closed down in the late 30s. Mir traveled to Europe for a study tour and returned to India to make perhaps his most well-known films, Rickshawala (1938) for Ranjit Movietone in Bombay and Sitara (1939), made at Everest Pics.
After making several more films Mir joined the Film Advisory Board in 1940. The Film Advisory Board, established in 1940, was the first example of direct state documentery film production in India. Mir worked as Chief Producer for them till 1946, producing over 170 films. The Information Films of India produced war propaganda documentaries and the Indian News Parade, the ancestor to Films Division's Indian News Review.
Mir moved on to India Film Enterprises and then to Films Division in 1951, becoming its Chief Producer in 1956 continuing till 1961. Mir was also the founding president of IDPA, the Indian Documentary Producers Association in 1956 and the Producer-In-Charge of Children's Film Society from 1962 - 1964. From 1940 onwards, once he entered the field of documentary filmmaking, Mir was responsible in various capacities as script-writer, cameraman, editor, director and producer for over 700 films! Of these over 400 were in his tenure at Films Division. Some of the well-known films are Pamposh (1954), Do You Know? (1958), This Our India (1961) and Raju aur Gangaram (1964).
Ezra Mir was honoured by the Government of India with the Padmashri in 1970. He passed away in Mumbai on 7th March, 1993.