Alam Ara – Ardeshir Irani (1931)
Alam Ara is a 1931 film directed by Ardeshir Irani. It was the first Indian sound film. Irani recognised the importance that sound would have on cinema, and raced to complete Alam Ara before several contemporary sound films. Alam Ara debuted at the Majestic Cinema in Mumbai (then Bombay) on 14 March 1931.
Its a pity that no prints of this magnificent film remains. I would have loved to see it, even though it was made years before I was born.
Hi – it was interesting to read about Ardeshir Irani. Do you know that Parsi/Irani were pioneers when the movie/movie theatre business started in Mumbai in the early years of 1920’s and 30’s. Most of the cinema houses in south Mumbai were owned by Parsis. Regal and Capitol by Sidhwa family, Eros by Khambattas, Strand, Empire and Excelsior by Modi family. Edward, Palace and Aurora by Bejanji Bharucha. Wadia Brothers had their production studios, as did Ardeshir Irani, and Sorab Modi was one of the most respected character actors. Sorab Modi produced the first Technicolor Indian Movie “Jhansi ki Rani” in which his wife Mahtab portrayed the Rani. One of the Wadia brothers married Nadia actress late in life. When cinema promoters functions took place the stage had mostly Parsi stalwarts on the stage and Ardeshir Irani would be in his Parsi Pheta and Dagla. All the Parsi big shots were very respected by the actors and actresses of those days because of high ethics and high character. After partition there were a lot of actors/actresses/singers migrated to India. Dilips Kumar’s real name is Yusuf Khan and the Kapoor family also migrated from North India.
When I was growing up we dressed well to go to the cinema and Sunday evening 6:30 show was the highlight of many Parsi families. The tickets were Rs.1-5 annas, Rs.2-10annas – both reserved and 10 anna seats were unreserved! All the English theatres in south Bombay would open their advance booking windows on Tuesdays at 9 a.m. for the new picture starting that Friday.
Hope you find this info nostalgic as most old timers will know what I’m talking about.
Aban Daboo – Aurora, Illinois, USA
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