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Google Doodle celebrates 80 years of Alam Ara


Updated: March 14, 2011, 10:07 AM IST
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Google Doodle celebrates 80 years of Alam Ara
Alam Ara was released on March 14, 1931, with actors being heard on screen for the first time.

On March 14, 1931 - exactly eighty years ago - the police had to be summoned to the Majestic cinema hall in Mumbai (then Bombay). The reason for the feared stampede was the uncontrollable response of movie-goers to the first Indian talkie, Alam Ara.

Celebrated by a Google Doodle on the homepage of the search engine in India to commemorate the arrival of sound to Indian cinema, Alam Ara also included the first song in Hindi films - setting off an endearing and enduring tradition. The song, De de khuda ke naam par, was performed on screen by actor Wazir Mohammed Khan - this, of course, was before the days of lip-syncing to playback tracks. The film, in fact, had seven songs, scored by Ferozshah M. Mistru and B. Irani.

The tragedy, however, is that the film may be lost forever. In 2008, an Information and Broadcasting ministry official revealed that no prints are now available with the National Archives of India. The last existing prints were destroyed in a fire at Pune's National Film Archives in 2003. A search was conducted across the country but no print of Alam Ara could be found.

Directed by Ardeshir Irani, the film is a love story between a prince and a gypsy girl. It starred master Vithal, Zubeida, LV Prasad and Prithviraj Kapoor. The film was shot mostly in at night to avoid capturing the noises of the day. Alam Ara was made using microphones that had to be hidden from the camera's view. It ran for two hours and four minutes, and used a Tanar Sound System to record the dialogue.

The amazing fact of a movie with dialogue that the audience could actually hear was advertised with the line 'All living. Breathing. 100 per cent talking.' The Hindi punchline was even more colorful: '78 murder insaan zinnia ho gaye. Unko bolte dekho.' (78 dead people come to life. Watch them speak.)

India's first talkie now remains only a memory, a scattering of images and, today, a 'Google Doodle'.

First Published: March 14, 2011, 10:07 AM IST
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