In the film world, the credit goes to Dadasaheb Phalke for making the first film in India. But the credit for making India speak film goes to Ardeshir Irani. He was also a writer, director, producer, actor, film distributor, film showman, and cinematographer of Indian cinema. India’s first talkie film was Alam Ara which was directed by Ardeshir Irani. In 1927, when the world’s first talkie film Jazz Singer was released in America, there was a stir. Now on the silver screen, people could see the pictures not only while walking but also speaking and singing. It was a wonder for the people of that time.
After America, there was a competition to make speaking films in other countries as well. Where was India also going to be behind? Many people in India started trying to make a talkie film. Many filmmakers tried but the first person who got success was Ardeshir Irani Ji. He is credited with making the first talkie film in India.
Ardeshir Irani was born on 5 December 1886 in Pune. When he was only ten years old, the Lumiere brothers appeared in the silent film Bombay for the first time in India. Ardeshir Irani also saw that film and was amazed to see him. From then on, he got inclined towards films. He completed his education at J. J. High School in Bombay. After completion of his education, he did many jobs. He worked briefly as a school teacher, kerosene inspector, and police officer. Then he opened a Gramophone Records shop on Kalbadevi Road in Bombay. Ardeshir Irani was drawn towards films in his childhood. He had an inclination towards films since childhood. As he grew older, this inclination kept increasing.
Ardeshir Irani built his first studio
Ardeshir Irani built two theaters named Alexandra and Majestic. Along with this, he also started doing the work of distributing American films. After that he got a partner, his name was Bhogilal Dave. Together with him, Ardeshir Irani first built a studio in Bombay by the name of Star Films. In that studio, he started producing silent films. This earned him some income. After this studio, he formed the Majestic Film Company with his partner. After some time in 1926, Ardeshir Irani formed the Imperial Film Company. By forming these companies, he started making a lot of silent films.
At the time when Ardeshir Irani was making silent films, till that time silent films were being made in India mostly on religious and mythological subjects. Ardeshir Irani started making films on different subjects like Punjab Male, Madhuri, Anarkali, Dancing Girl, Village Girl, Nurse, Wildcat, etc. Hence the demand for Ardeshir Irani’s silent films was increasing. Ardeshir Irani’s favorite heroine in those days was actress Sulochana. Sulochana’s real name was Ruby Myers. She was a very good and successful actress of that time. This actress played seven roles in the film Wild Cat of Bombay. Later on, she became very famous. Sulochana was later awarded the Dadasaheb Phalke Award for her work.
His struggle for making talkie film
Ardeshir Irani was experimenting with making silent films. He was a very courageous person and the urge to try something new was always in his mind. So when Jazz Singer appeared in 1927, there was a great stir in his mind. His mind also started dreaming of making a talkie film. To fulfill that dream, he started working hard and hard. To make a talkie film, he needed many things and machines which he did not have. With great courage, he got a recording machine from abroad. After getting the machine, with the help of a foreign expert, he did various experiments to make a talking film.
When for the first time he was able to get the strip picture and sound of a film together, his happiness knew no bounds. He started dancing happily. He brought in the voices of actors, singers, parrots, and dogs. Ardeshir Irani intensified his efforts when he came to know that other filmmakers apart from him are also trying to make a speaking film. He united night and day to make a talkie film. He used to shoot the film late at night so that outside noise would not come in the film. Local trains and trains running in Bombay run till late at night. That’s why he took such a step without caring about his comfort.
India’s first Talkie film
The recording of the film was done by Ardeshir Irani himself and he was also its main director. Eventually, his hard work paid off. India’s first talkie film Alam Ara, produced by Ardeshir Irani, was released on 14 March 1931 at the Majestic Theater in Bombay. If Ardeshir Irani Ji had been delayed for a few more days, someone else would have taken the credit for making India’s first talkie film, but Irani’s true dedication and hard work day and night paid off. He became the father of spoken films in India.
Alam Ara’s performance created a strange stir among the audience. People broke down to watch the movie Alam Ara at Majestic Cinemas. People got very excited to see the spoken film. He felt quite strange that he was about to see the moving pictures speaking. The crowd grew so much and became uncontrollable. Seeing the crowd and to control it, the police had to be called.
About the film Aalam Aara
The film Alam Ara was 10,500 feet long. It featured famous artists of that era, such as Zubeida, Master Vitthal, WM Khan, and Prithviraj Kapoor. The film was made in a slang language, i.e. where it had Sanskritised Hindi on one side, Urdu, and Persian on the other. There were a total of seven songs in this film. Along with this, there were also some dance scenes. Hence the film was promoted as India’s first dance-song film.
After that Irani made five more talkie films in 1931. One of them, Noorjahan, was also made in English. It was the first Indian film to be made in English. Ardeshir Irani also made two color films in his lifetime. Ardeshir Irani made one hundred and forty-eight films in his illustrious career in which he made his last film, Pujari, in 1945. He died in Mumbai on 14 October 1969 at the age of eighty-two.