Music has been a pivotal part of the entertainment. Readers would be surprised to know the craze for music was such that even during the silent films, special musicians were arranged who sang songs to entertain the film buffs. Hence when Filmmaker Ardeshir Irani made India’s First Talkie Film Alam Ara he too used songs in the film. The film has 7 songs and the most famous song was De De Khuda Ke Naam Pyare… The song was sung by Wazir Mohammed Khan, who plays a fakir in the film and sings the song. The name of the lyricist has been forgotten though the music composers’ are remembered as Pherozeshah M Mistry and B. Irani.
Interestingly, there is no mention of a music director in the original credits of Alam Ara because Irani had just used two musicians—a tabla player and a harmonium player. The 2 were kept hidden and the actors on the screen had to sing with hidden mikes. It was a difficult task to film songs in the beginning. They had to be extra cautious about ‘unnecessary noises’, as they shot on a ‘single-system’ camera, which recorded sound directly on to the film.
Besides De De Khuda Ke Naam Pyare… filmmaker Ardeshir Irani had used six more songs. Among these five songs were sung by actress Zubeida, who played the lead role. It may be noted Zubeida started her career with silent films but won success with Alam Ara.
Later she did many hit films like Meri Jaan and Veer Abhimanyu. She became one of the highest-paid leading ladies around. Few know that she was not the original choice of Alam Ara as Irani wanted to cast Ruby Myers, better known as Sulochana. She was a fair-skinned Jewish actress and was a hot star of silent era but she could not seek fluent Urdu hence Zubeida got a break and she became a star!
Intestinally she had a good voice and she sang the songs well. Her songs Badala Dilawaaega Ya Rab Tu Sitamagaaron Se…; Bhar Bhar Ke Jaam Pilaa Ja….; De Dil Ko Aaram Aye Saaki Gulfaam….; Teri Kateeli Nigaaho Ne Maara …and Daras Bina More Hain Tarase Naina Pyaare … were also hit. One song was sung by another actress Jilloo. The song was Rutha Hai Aasman Gum Ho Gaya Mahtaab…….
The success of music in Alam Ara opened doors for other filmmakers. Immediately after Alam Ara another movie Shirin Farhad (1931) by J F Madaan had 42 songs. A film Indra Sabha released in 1932 had 71 songs which made a world record of the highest number of songs in a single film till today.