Fauda actor Tsahi Halevi at News18

In a classic case of better late than never, Israeli actor Tsahi Halevi’s visit to India was an eye opener for him in many ways. If only he had traveled to India after his mandatory IDF military training, it would have been avoided; alas, his then-girlfriend convinced him to pack his bags for Argentina instead. “So many amazing similarities”, says Halevi happily, “I will surely be here again. There is so much to see here. India’s diversity has always been the talk of the town”. The actor who was in India for a week said his social media accounts are buzzing with Indian fans wishing him good luck.And why not, his show Fauda is enjoying huge fan following in India.In an interview with News18, he tells us about his experience.

These six days must have been hectic for you. How was the experience?

It was very short. I spent three days in Delhi and three days in Mumbai. I just got a glimpse of your country. I had the great privilege of meeting many people. I was able to see a few places in these two cities. I saw the front door, the Leopold hotel and the Chabad house. I was aware of the horrific attack in 2008. It was truly a touching experience to listen to the courage people showed in 2008.

What do Israelis think of India? The internet connection certainly seems to reflect a growing understanding between the two nations.

There is a large Indian population in Israel which is immensely respected. India’s Jewish community flourished. It was a dream come true for me to come here and understand this story a bit. We know it’s such a diverse country and it’s impossible for me to see it all. I’ve always had a lot of positive thoughts about the country and I’ve always been drawn to the country. Of course, there’s also the cultural appeal of India that comes from something like yoga, which I practice. Also, I read a lot about Gandhi.

The six-day trip involved meeting film personalities, cricketers and politicians. (Picture: Instagram)

This is your first trip to the country…

Yes, many young Israelis go to India. One of the main prerequisites for military service is to travel. Some go to the Far East like India and others go to South America. During my military service, I was dating a girl who wanted to go to Argentina, so I went there with her. But we learn a lot about India from our friends. I’ve always thought that you have to see the places so that we can understand it. Of course, everyone has a certain image of India – the nature, the culture, the food, the cinema – but there is so much more and it has to be seen. It really has a warm atmosphere.

You have also met many personalities from the film industry.

Yes! In fact, I was surprised to find out that one of Bollywood’s first celebrities was Jewish, Sulochana (Ruby Myers). These things were fascinating to know. Thanks to this, I learned a lot about the history of Indian cinema.

Were you surprised by your popularity in India? You also sang an old Hindi song at an event in Delhi.

You know, I was on Facebook and a lot of members of the Cochin Jewish community in Israel messaged me saying they liked the song. India is quite present in Israel be it people, food or music. But it’s not just those typical things we’re talking about. Even history, we got independence around the same time. We are like two sisters. Israel is a big fusion like India. Israel is a microcosm of India.

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James C. Tibbs