Monthly Archives: March 2021

Ardeshir Irani – The First Talkie

As Alam Ara released on this day in 1931, Dr. Manash P. Goswami traces the making of this Indian classic.

A dreamer, a lottery winner and an entrepreneur – these were some of the traits of the man who made India’s first talkie – Alam Ara. Ardeshir Irani – a second generation Parsi, whose father had landed in India in the later half of the 19th century from Iran, had been a dreamer since his early years. While starting off with a business of selling musical instruments, Irani nurtured a dream to explore the potential of moving pictures, or films. His dream turned into reality when he won a lottery of Rs. 14,000. It enabled him to take his first step into the film industry as a small-time film distributor, showing films in ‘tent cinema’ with a projector. The first Indian film, Raja Harishchandra (1913), produced by Dadasaheb Phalke, and subsequent films in later years motivated Irani to try his hand in filmmaking. Throughout the 1920s, he directed more than half a dozen silent films that established him as a prominent name in the budding Indian film industry.

Ardeshir Irani

Irani could further sense the huge potential of the film industry when he watched Universal Pictures’ Show Boat – a 40 per cent talkie, in Mumbai’s Excelsior Cinema in 1929. His business insights and visionary ideas pushed him to take a big leap with the experience he had with Show Boat. He planned to produce the first Indian talkie. He was well aware of his lack of experience in following up with this venture. But he still decided to go ahead with the idea.

While tackling confusions and the dearth of resources, Irani also had to improvise on many occasions. The dilemma of choosing the language for the film (Marathi or Gujarati) ended when Irani decided to produce the film in Hindustani (a mixture of Hindi and Urdu). His choice of language came from the business potential of the Hindustani language, as it could reach out to a larger audience.

The choice of story or plot came next. Irani decided to go with a drama – Alam Ara, a popular Parsi stage play by a Bombay dramatist about the love story of a prince and a gypsy girl. Even though the silent films of that period were mythology-based, Irani decided to experiment with a new flavour for his talkie.

(Left) Poster of Alma-Ara. (Right) A collage of stills from Alam Ara

The challenges in introducing sound in the film required much effort and innovative ideas. It may sound unbelievable, or funny too, but the instrumentalists – harmonium and tabla players, hid behind the trees in the scenes that required musical support. The microphones were placed inside the costumes of actors, or within props kept near the actors, so that the dialogue could be recorded. The crew took all caution to hide them from the camera.

The shooting was another Herculean task. The studio decided on Grant Road, Mumbai, as the location. But as trains passed through the area all day and there were no sound-proof rooms, the shooting had to be done during nights only.

Even though most films of the silent era had Anglo-Indian or Jewish actresses as female leads due to their fair skin, a young actress of Indian origin played the lead role in Alam Ara. Irani had to choose Zubeida over Ruby Myers (popularly known as Sulochana), a Baghdadi Jewish girl, as the main actress for the film as none of the Jewish or Anglo-Indian actresses could speak Hindustani, and their accent was also wrong. For the male lead, Irani initially chose Mehboob Khan, but finally settled for a more commercially viable name – Marathi stunt star Master Vithal. For the villain’s role, Prithviraj Kapoor was Irani’s first and last choice.

Ferozshah M. Mistri and B. Irani, the duo behind lyrics and music composition, chose Hindustani language and Urdu dialect. There were seven songs in the film, with the song De de Khuda ke naam par being the most popular one. Interestingly, a watchman of the neighbourhood, Wazir Muhammad Khan, who had a coarse voice, sang this song as Irani felt that Khan’s voice was perfect for a fakir.

As the first film with Hindi songs and the first in the filmi-ghazal style, the music of the film was influenced by the ghazal tradition of Urdu-Parsi theatre. This film also set the record for being the first film to introduce playback singing in India.

Unlike a silent film that took nearly one month to complete, the production of Alam Ara had taken nearly four months. Shooting with much caution and with the hazards of sound recording, the production took up a long time. Moreover, Irani had to keep the making of the first talkie in India a closely guarded secret.

With the release of the film on March 14, 1931, Irani put India on the world map as one of the pioneers in producing talkies. The film, screened at the Majestic Cinema in Bombay, turned out to be a sensation. The advertisements ran with headlines like – ‘All living. Breathing. 100 per cent talking’ in English, and ‘78 murde insaan zinda ho gaye. Unko bolte dekho’ in Hindi. And this built curiosity among the people for Irani’s Alam Ara.

For those who had never seen people talking on the screen, Alam Ara was the talk of the town. The police was called in to control the overcrowded theatre on the day of its release. The tickets, usually priced at four annas, were sold in the black market. The film ran houseful for more than eight weeks. Its popularity encouraged Irani to screen the film in tent theatres in different places, carrying sound and projection equipment. The film got an overwhelming response everywhere.

Looking for information on Hilla Rustomji Faridoonji (1872–1956)

The All India Womens Conference is a 93 year old all women  organisation founded in 1927 by Mrs Margaret Cousins.It is popularly known as AIWC.It has about 500 branches all over the country from Kanyakumari to Kashmir ,with its Head Office in Delhi.AIWC is a Non Governmental Organization which works mainly for the upliftment of women  & children belonging to the lower strata of society.

Our Head Office  located in Sarojin House , 6 Bhagwandas Road , New Delhi has a full fledged Library called the MCM Library. Here we have a record of the past Presidents as well as the Minutes of all the Conferences held as also the work done till date. But information regarding some past Presidents is not upto date & as such we are trying to collect as much information as possible so that the future generations will learn about  our rich legacy & also about these esteemed women who have worked selflessly while they were at the helm of affairs all through out.
So it is in this regard that I would like to have some information about Mrs Hilla Rustomjee Faridoonji who was the 9th President of AIWC  in 1934. Very little is known about her & hence this is to request you to kindly help us in learning about her childhood ,education, family & home. It would be great if I could connect to her kith & kin who will give me this valuable information.
I hereby assure you that this information will be only for the AIWC Records & will not be used for any other purpose whatsoever.
Hilla Rustomji Faridoonji (1872–1956) was an Indian educationist and political activist. She was secretary of the Women’s Education Fund Association.
At the All India Women’s Conference meeting in Madras in 1931-2, Faridoonji proposed the removal of caste distinctions and the abolition of separate schools for different religious sects. In 1935, she served as President of the AIWC, and continued as a patron on the Standing Committee of the Conference. She was a close associate of Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay and became a close friend of Mahatma Gandhi.
She was one of the first administrators of Lady Irwin College when it opened in 1932. She was its convenor and treasurer and continued to work for the college until her death. In 1954 she opened the college’s postgraduate accommodation in her role as President of the All India Women’s Education Fund Association. The main hall of residence is now known as the Hilla Faridoonji Hall in her memory.
Mrs Rekha A Sali,
Member In Charge Constitution,
New Delhi.

The ancient Zoroastrian and Indo-European roots of Nowrouz 

The celebration of Vernal Equinox and arrival of spring is the most sacred and joyous of all Zoroastrian religious holidays. It is called Hamas.paθ.maædÿa in Avesta, the sacred lore of the Zoroastrians.  The Avestan term Hamas.paθ.maædÿa refers to the exact time at which “the celestial paths are at a midpoint and have the same distance/length from each other.” The Persian word Now.rouz, means literally “New Dawn/Day” and alludes to the first “fresh dawn/light” after the vernal equinox.

Interestingly, the ancient Roman calendar began also at the vernal equinox. This is evidenced by the name of the months September, October, November, December, that respectively mean the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th month which puts the beginning of calendar in spring. The celebration of vernal equinox in the old Roman calendar was attributed to Romulus, the mythical founder of Rome.

For Zoroastrians, celebration of spring equinox is a a recurrent reminder of Frašö-kereitî the “splendid, fresh new creation” of the worlds, a symbol of the coming eternal spring when Our “limited, temporal time” will evolve into the “long dominion and everlasting age of the Gods.”

When the eternal spring finally arrives, the worlds and all that is in them will be refashioned to the pristine, brilliant state in which it was envisioned by the supreme God/Titan Ahûrá Mazdá “the Wise Lord of Mind Powers and Vision.”

Ahûrá Mazdá establishes/creates the worlds by the powers of his wondrous mind, luminous vision, celestial music, and triumphant spirit. He and his Auspicious Immortals are embodied by eternal quest for excellence, betterment and superb artistry that will culminate in the frašö-kereitî, the “splendid, fresh new creation” of the worlds.

The ten days before Vernal Equinox are dedicated to ancestors and Fravašis who are Valkyrie-like pristine prototypes or ideal images of all things. It is believed that the veil between our realm and higher dimensions is especially thin during last 10 days before equinox. These last 10 holy days of the year are referred to as Rözān Fravardîgán literally “bright points or luminous cracks for Fravašis.”

Families welcome their departed and heroic dead with prayers, consecrated nuts, cakes, other food offerings and by brightness of bonfires fragrant with incense. Especially on the eve of the 5th day before equinox fires are lit on rooftops or in front of the houses after sunset. People go door to door, covered in masked costumes to ask for consecrated nuts, sweets, foods and fruits.

The existence of similar observances among Celts celebrating Halloween and other Indo-European peoples suggests that these ancient rites go back to the very dawn of the Indo-European culture.The ancient bonfire ceremonies are still celebrated in the form of chahr-shanbae suri ceremonies where bonfires are lit during the last Wednesday night before arrival of Spring. However, the modern chahr-shanbae suri lacks its original Zoroastrian solemnity.

The Nowrouz banquet/table is a symbolic offering of decorated colored eggs, germinated wheat or lentil sprouts, hyacinth flower, silver or gold coins, mirror, candles, wine, incense, bowl of milk, spring water with thymes, apples or sour oranges, fried sweet bread and garlic cloves. However, the setting of the table and lucky items differs according to the taste of individual celebrants.

The items on the New year table start with the letter S in farsi. The S is an allusion to the Avestan word Speñtámeaning “auspicious, sacred, very bright and radiant” and refers to lucky items/symbolic foods that bring good luck and represent the Blessings of the Auspicious Brilliant Immortals in our lives and homes. In Zoroastrianism Godhood is “Good, Benevolent Genius” who only brings good fortune, prosperity, growth, healing, light and much wonder and joy into mortals’ lives.

Decorated, colored eggs of the ancient Zoroastrians share the same roots with Ôstara eggs that represent fertility and regenerative powers. Ôstara eggs were later incorporated into Easter and Christianity. Also similar to many Eastern European folklore, Garlic is believed to have miraculous healing powers among Zoroastrians and is essential in warding off diabolic spirits.

Another most interesting Nowrouz food is samanü or samnoo, a sweet pudding made with germinated wheat sprouts, flour, and water. Samanoo symbolizes sweet life and rewards of patience. Samanoo is strikingly similar to an ancient Finnish Easter pudding called Mämmi. This unique Finnish sweet pudding called Memmi in Sweden, is an ancient desert that is known only in Finland, and among some Baltic people. Mämmi is made out of rye flour, water, molasses, orange zest that is left to sweeten naturally (just like samanoo) before being baked.

There are loanwords from Indo-Iranian, into the Uralic languages, and vice versa that date back to a time when Proto Indo Iranians still lived in Abashevo culture and had extensive trade with Volsovo culture of the Broze age that made many cultural and linguistic exchanges between Proto Indo-Iranians and the Uralic people possible.

The Proto Indo-Iranian and Uralic loanwords in their respective languages are primarily visible in words of agriculture, animal husbandry, spiritual life vocabulary and shamanism.

The Spring Equinox Celebrations last 13 days. On the lucky 13th day, the decorated eggs and germinated wheat or lentil sprouts are taken outdoors to fresh streams, lakes or waterfalls, and are offered to the brightest and luckiest star Tištar or Tristar. Three knots are made in germinated wheat or lentil sprouts before offering them. Then a wish is made.  The three knots are symbolic of Good Thoughts, Good Words and Good Deeds, the supreme importance of keeping our disposition, energy, expression and actions, positive and luminous in the coming year ahead.  Tištar or Tristar of the Zoroastrian scripture appears in Moslem Koran as ash-shira, the Mighty Sirius Star.


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Nowruz: The Iranian New Year from Myth to History

The Jalinous Lecture Series

Nowruz: The Iranian New Year from Myth to History

Monday, March 15, 2021
2:00PM EST via Zoom

Featuring a presentation and discussion with:

Dr. Touraj Daryaee
Maseeh Chair in Persian Studies & Culture,
Director of the Dr. Samuel M. Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture
University of California, Irvine

Q&A to follow with questions from the audience

RSVP to receive the Zoom link via email

Funded in Part by the Jalinous Endowed Fund for Persian Studies



Rejuvenation Through Manifestation

Parsi Khabar is happy to present it’s first ever online program this Navroze.
We will anchor a Nowruz 2021 Parenting Special titled

Rejuvenation Through Manifestation

with Dr. Mickey Mehta from Mumbai, India & Meher Amalsad from California, USA.
Saturday, March 13, 2020  07:00 PM Pacific,  10:00 PM Easterm
Sunday March 14, 2020  08:30 AM IST,  3:00 AM GMT
Host & Moderator: Arzan Sam Wadia, Founder of Parsi Khabar
This Special M&M Show Is Dedicated To Mickey and Meher’s Daughters Karishma And Anahita, as well as to All The Daughters Of Humanity.
Join us for this enlightened session on the joys of parenting, as they share their special Father-Daughter relationship of unconditional love and spirituality with humanity.

About Dr. Mickey Mehta

Global Leading Holistic Health Guru And Corporate Life Coach
Dr. Mickey Mehta completed 50 years of yoga with 39 years of Pioneering experience  in the Health And Wellness industry.
Dr. Mickey Mehta is a leading global holistic health guru and a corporate life coach to Bollywood superstars, top politicians, India Inc. and several Miss Worlds and Miss Universes. The recipient of ‘The Health and Wellness Icon of India’ award by Economic Times and is among the ‘100 Most Impactful Wellness Leaders of the World’ as announced at the Global Wellness Conclave 2018.
He is considered the first personal trainer of India, the first fitness columnist and the first fitness TV and radio presenter in India. He has trained police, army, navy and air force personnel.
An honorary double doctorate in Holistic Health and Life Sciences, from the Open International University for Complementary Medicines. He is author of best sellers ‘The Shoonyam Quotient’ and ‘Lose weight gain shape’. Also, a speaker at Harvard University, IIMs, IIT and held holistic health workshops globally.
The author, poet, philosopher, the brand, the institution, the legendary – DR. MICKEY MEHTA who gets you Energized, Naturalized, Optimized, Maximized, Wellness Revolutionized and gets you IMMUNIZED and MICKEYMIZED!!!
Follow Dr. Mickey Mehta on Twitter | Facebook | Linkedin | Instagram

About Meher Amalsad

Professional Speaker And Author Of  Bread for the Head ™
Meher Amalsad is an Engineer, Educator, Inventor, Professional Speaker and published Author of Bread for the Head ™
This gift book is filled with thoughts, ideas and affirmations that inspires the heart, motivates the mind and transforms the soul, with prime focus on Parenting, Unconditional Love, Spiritual Consciousness, Success, and Excellence. This work which is rooted in ‘ROLE MODELING rather than RULE MODELING’ has been used by corporations, schools, children, parents, teachers, hospitals, wellness centers as well as healing and rehabilitation centers. His work has been showcased to over hundred million people across the globe through his appearance on numerous Radio, Cable, Satellite and Television Talk Shows nationwide. His philosophies are simple yet applicable in each and every aspect of life. (
His purpose is to help others excel academically, discover and maximize their true passions, and become their authentic best selves.
His work is focused on EMPOWERING PEOPLE to create a footprint of success, in them.
Meher has served as the Founding Chair of the North American And World Zoroastrian Youth Congresses since 1985.
He has worked as a Program Manager for Hughes Aircraft Company, which is one of the top Aerospace Defense Companies in the world.
His life’s work has been focused on creating UNITY WITHIN DIVERSITY IN HUMANITY.
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Looking for heirs of Gabbas

This is Berzin Master from Solapur.
Out here the SMC & other builders are trying to find out the legal heirs of Late Soonabai Ardeshar Gabba And Late Nusserwanji Gabba
Their family used to reside at Solapur & currently are holding title rights of prime property admeasuring nearly 6 to 7 acres at Jule Solapur.
This is worth quite a bit.
Request you all through this group & other groups if the heirs of the Gabba family be traced.
Request you to contact me on 9819760793.
Wishing you all a beautiful day ! 🌈💐
Berzin Master
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