Ardeshir Irani directed and produced Alam Ara, a 1931 Indian Hindustani-language historical fantasy film. It follows a king and his two childless women, Navbahaar and Dilbahaar; soon after, a fakir informs the monarch that the former woman would give birth to a baby, eventually named Qamar, but that the child will die after his 18th birthday if Navbahaar cannot acquire the necklace he requests.
After seeing the 1929 American part-talkie Show Boat, Irani was inspired to create Alam Ara. The plot was adapted from the same-named play by Bombay-based dramatist Joseph David. Adi M. Irani handled primary photography in Bombay within four months on a budget of Rupees 40,000 (equivalent to 10 million or US$140,000 in 2020).
Alam Ara was released on March 14, 1931, and it was a big office success. The performance and songs received the highest praise from critics, while some of them criticized the sound quality. In addition to its commercial success, the picture’s distinction as India’s first sound film was widely regarded as a huge breakthrough for the Indian cinema industry and Ardeshir Irani’s career.
Although no print or gramophone record of the picture is known to exist, making it a lost film, stills, and posters are among the objects that have survived. It was named the most important of any lost Indian film by the British Film Institute in 2017.
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