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Alam Ara (Hindi: , Urdu: , translation: The

Light of the World) is a 1931 film directed by Ardeshir Irani.
It was the first Indian sound film.[1][2]
Irani recognized the importance that sound would have on
the cinema, and raced to complete Alam Ara before several
contemporary sound films. Alam Ara debuted at the
Majestic Cinema in Mumbai (then Bombay) on March 14,
1931. The first Indian talkie was so popular that "police aid
had to be summoned to control the crowds."[3]

Alam Ara still

Newspaper advertisement for Alam Ara, 1931

The film is a love story between a prince and a gypsy girl,
based on a Parsi play written by Joseph David. David later
served as a writer at Irani's film company. The story
centers on an imaginary, historical royal family in the
kingdom of Kumarpur. The main characters are the king
and his two warring wives Dilbahar and Navbahar. Their
rivalry escalates when a fakir predicts that Navbahar will
bear the king's heir. Dilbahar, in revenge, attempts to have
an affair with the kingdom's chief minister Adil. The affair
goes sour and a vengeful Dilbahar imprisons him and
exiles his daughter, Alam Ara (Zubeida). In exile, Alam Ara
is brought up by Gypsies. Upon returning to the palace at
Kumarpur, Alam Ara meets and falls in love with the
charming young prince (Master Vithal). In the end, Adil is
released, Dilbahar is punished and the lovers marry.
After the fire at National Film Archive of India, Pune, in
2003, which destroyed the last surviving prints of several

classics such as Raja Harishchandra and Achhut Kanya,

this film is no longer available in its original format.[4]
Ardeshir Irani handled the sound recording department,
using the Tanar Sound System. It was shot with the Tanar
single-system camera, which recorded sound directly onto
the film. Since there were no soundproof studios available
at the time, the shooting was done mostly at night, to avoid
daytime noises, with microphones hidden near the actors.[5]

Ardeshir Irani recording Alam Ara, 1931

The film had music by Ferozshah M. Mistri and B. Irani,
and had seven songs:

De de khuda ke naam pe: Wazir Mohammed Khan

Badla Dilwayega Ya Rabb: Zubeida[8]
Rutha Hai Asman gum ho gaya mahatab: Jillu
Teri Kaatil nigahon ne mara
De dil ko aaram aye saki gulfam
Bhar bhar ke jam pila ja sagar ke chalane bala
Daras bina mare hai tarse naina pyare

Zubeida Begum Dhanrajgir (Urdu: ( ) 19881911) was
an Indian film actress. She acted in the first Indian talkie
movie Alam Ara (1931).[1] Her credits include early hits
Devdas (1937), and Sagar Movietone's first talkie, Meri

Originally from Surat, she was the daughter of Fatma

Begum. She became a notable film actress and India's first
woman film director and was the sister of actressess
Shahzadi and Sultana. In the presence of seasoned actors
like Prithviraj Kapoor and Master Vithal, Zubeida
blossomed and wowed everyone with her singing, dancing
and her speech.
Zubeida was one of Indian cinema's earliest superstars and
among the few girls who entered films at a time when it
wasn't considered an appropriate profession for girls from
respectable families, let alone Royalty. Born in Surat,
Zubeida was a stunningly beautiful princess, the daughter
of the Nawab of Sachin and Fatima Begum. Zubeida and

her two sisters, Sultana and Shehzadi, egged on by their

actress mother who was to become India's first woman
director, entered films at a very young age.
Zubeida was only 12 when she made her debut in
Kohinoor. Through the 20s she made infrequent
appearances on screen along with Sultana who by then
had become one of Indian cinema's loveliest leading ladies.
One of the films to star the two sisters was Kalyan Khajina
in 1924. They had also shared the screen in Zubeida's first
blockbuster, Veer Abhimanyu released two years earlier,
that also had their mother, Fatima Begum playing an
important role.
In 1925 Zubeida had nine releases, amongst them Kala
Chor, Devdasi and Desh Ka Dushman. A year later she
starred in her mother's film, Bulbul-e-Parista. 1927 was
memorable for her with movies Laila Majnu, Nanand Bhojai
and Naval Gandhi's Sacrifice which were very successful
movies at this time.
The latter, based on Rabindranath Tagore's 'Balidaan', also
starred Sulochana, Master Vithal and Jal Khambatta. It
condemned the age-old custom of animal sacrifice in
certain Kali temples in Bengal. The Members of the Indian
Cinematograph Committee were wowed by this "excellent
and truly Indian film". Its European members
recommended that it be sent abroad for screening.