The Indian movie, Alam Ara, directed by Ardeshir Irani
, was the first Indian film with sound. Irani realised the significance and impact of sound on Indian cinema and rushed to finish Alam Ara, as many other films were planning on introducing sound.
Synopsis of Alam Ara:
The story was a fantasy-periodic drama. Alam Ara told the tale of a historical family in the kingdom of Kumarpur. The story revolved around a king and his two conflicting wives Navbahar and Dilbahar. Problems increase after a fakir predicted that Navbahar will give birth to the king`s next heir. The king`s other wife tries to have an affair with Adil, the chief minister, as an act of revenge. After the affair fails to meet Dilbahar`s expectations, she imprisons Adil and banishes Alam Ara, his daughter. Alam ara goes under the care of gypsies who raise her. Later, she returns to the Kumarpur palace, where she encounters the charismatic young prince, played by Master Vithal, and falls in love with him. Finally the prince and Alam Ara get married and release Adil. Dilbahar also pays her dues in the climax.
The film was adapted from a Parsi play written by Joseph David. David later served as a writer at Irani`s film company. Alam Ara premiered at the Majestic Cinema in Bombay (Mumbai
) on March 14, 1931. The movie and its music were widely successful. The songs became immensely popular, and actor Wazir Mohammed Khan, who acted in the role of the fakir, sang De de khuda ke naam per, which was the most admired. The film was inspired by Kern and Hammerstein`s musical Show Boat which was released by Universal Pictures.
The film`s promotional posters were very interesting. One of them was written on it as "All living. Breathing. 100 per cent talking". One of the others was even more inviting. It said, "Murda insaan zinda ho gaye. Unko bolte dekho" The curiosity was irresistible. Such Huge crowds thronged to watch Alam Ara, India`s first talking movie that police protection had to be used to control the crowd.
Soundproof studios were not present at that time. The director faced a lot of problems, as the studio was present near the railway tracks. The crew waited till night to start the shooting to avoid unnecessary noises. Huge microphones were intelligently hidden to avoid being captured on film. The hard work paid off. Alam Ara not only became a runaway success, it also became the template of future. In the transition from silence to sound, many studios fell through the cracks. Fluency in Hindi and Urdu became important and because of this reason Anglo-Indian actors suffered and so did firang films. Arrival of sound also gave birth to singing stars who could effectively deliver dialogues.
Cast and crew of Alam Ara
The star cast of the film includes Master Vithal, Zubeida, Jillo, J. Sushila, Prithviraj Kapoor
, Elizer, Wazir Mohammed Khan, Jagdish Sethi, and L. V. Prasad. The movie is directed by Ardeshir Irani while it is produced by Imperial Movietone. Cinematography is done by Wilford Deming and Adi M. Irani.
Apparently this film ceases to exist in its original format and even the National Film Archive does not have a copy, as in 2003, a fire destroyed the prints that had survived.