Hard to say how popular Bollywood films are beyond the Indian subcontinent but it’s music has always set people humming and tapping.
We will always be the Film Industry which has thrived and survived on “Naach Gaana”. Despite varying influences from around the world we fondly cling to singing and dancing to tell our stories.
Here’s a good reason for that.
Our very first talkie had more singing and less talking!
When Alam Ara got released on the 14th of of March,1931 in Mumbai’s Majestic theatre, the thronging crowd had given the police a hard time. It was difficult for them to contain their frenzy. Alam Ara had marked the beginning of film music in Indian Cinema. What started then continued over the ages shaping Bollywood’s own format of storytelling.
It was recorded live with the musical accompaniment of a harmonium and a tabla. As no sound-proof studios existed at the time, shooting was mostly done at night to avoid daytime noise and microphones were hidden near the actors.
Actor Wazir Mohammad Khan a.k.a Fakir in the film sang the first song of the film. The song, “De de khuda ke naam par” became widely popular amongst the new movie going audience, also giving the film industry its first playback singer.
Alam ara was a love story between a King and a nomad girl adapted from a parsee play. What makes the film so special is that it initiated traditions on which the foundation of the Hindi Film Industry was laid.Now we know why we can take Bollywood out of music but not music out of Bollywood!