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Alam Ara – The First Ever Indian Talkie

November 11, 2013 | By

The impact and epoch-making role of Alam Ara, the first Indian talkie that catapulted Indian films from the silent era into the world of sound and music.

Alam AraAs we look back at the 100 years of Indian cinema, we can’t miss the impact and epoch-making role of Alam Ara, the first Indian talkie that catapulted Indian films from the silent era into the world of sound and music.

Alam Ara, (meaning ‘The Ornament of the World’), directed by Ardeshir Irani, released in Bombay on 14 March 1931, to such massive response in theatres that it is said even police was called to control the hysterical crowds.

Based on a Parsi play by Joseph David, Alam Ara revolves around a love story between a prince and a gypsy girl. Starring Prithviraj Kapoor and Zubeida, Alam Ara created an unprecedented craze with throngs of fans standing in queues for hours to watch the first film that would actually talk to them and also sing!

The film had 7 seven songs. In the 30’s, the concept of playback singing was unheard of. “De de khuda ke naam per” the first ever song in an Indian film was sung by actor called Wazir Mohammed Khan who also played the role of a fakir/sadhu in the film. The song became hugely popular. “Badla Dilwayega Ya Rabb” was sung by the leading lady, Zubeida herself.

The USP of Alam Ara was its soundtrack and songs. The songs became such big hits that the tradition of having songs in a film became an integral part of Indian cinema. Today you would rarely find a film without songs in it. As renowned filmmaker Shyam Benegal once said, “It was not just a talkie. It was a talking and singing film with more singing and less talking. It had a number of songs and that actually set the template for the kind of films that were made later.”

Today, cinema is crossing new thresholds of technology and hi-tech animation. But there was a time when films had no recorded sound, no spoken dialogue, and no music. The emotions and dialogues were conveyed through gestures and title cards.

In that era, Alam Ara marked a great leap for Indian cinema with sounds, dialogues and music. Alam Ara was a trendsetter of its times and will always be remembered for its big role in starting the era of Indian talkies. 

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