We know there have been many a celebration nowadays to mark 100 years of cinema. Few films capture the historicity of this moment more than the legendary Alam Ara.
The film is famous as it was the first Indian film to incorporate sound. The response to the film was phenomenal – the crowds gathered were so massive that they would have put many modern-day blockbusters to shame!
Released as far back as 1931, the film’s literal title is “light of the world.” The film was directed by the talented Ardeshir Irani. It was the first film to include songs as well. Its “Khuda ke naam per” was an instant hit for its time. Playback singing had not been invented then, the film recorded the song live with musical instruments.
The film itself was influenced by a Parsi play and an English film, Snow Boat. Starring the popular Prithviraj Kapoor and Zubeida, the film is about the idiosyncrasies of a king and his two wives.
Google celebrated the 80th anniversary of Alam Ara by a Google Doodle on March 14th, 2011. The prints of the film are now, unfortunately, considered lost or untraceable.
Looking into the history of Indian cinema, we must understand that something we take for granted in film is sound. And yet, sound was not always part of the movies. People were more clued in to other forms of entertainment such as the nautanki, street theatre, plays, etc. Considering that, the achievement of Alam Ara is truly something, isn’t it?