Song and dance has become almost synonymous with Indian cinema, but who would believe that it was exactly 80 years ago that Alam Ara (The Light of the World), true to its name, gave India her first talkie and first song in Indian cinema. It is heart-warming to note that Google has celebrated this occasion with a doodle of ‘Alam Ara’ on their Google.com homepage for India.
It was on 14th March, 1931 that director Ardeshir Irani’s ‘Alam Ara’, starring Prithviraj Kapoor, Zubeida, L. V. Prasad and Vithal, released in cinemas. The film was based on a Parsi play by Joseph David about a fictional king and the tension between his queens Navbahar and Dilbahar when a fakir predicts that Navbahar will carry the kingdom’s heir. The song De de khuda ke naam par, by Wazir Mohammed Khan, is one of the most well-known songs in the film and also the first song in Indian cinema.
At one time, crowds that had come to watch the film were so huge that the police had to be called in to control them and today, not a single print of ‘Alam Ara’ exists in our hands. The last prints of this pioneering film were destroyed in a fire in Pune in 2003 and not a single print has been found since.