Adi M Irani had the privilege of being behind the camera for one of the most significant films in Indian cinema history – the first talkie Alam Ara (1931). To be at the helm of shooting such a milestone feature in one’s debut is no mean feat.
Adi M. Irani had a difficult task while shooting Alam Ara, as he was confronted with a problem hitherto unseen in Indian cinema. He had to expertly disguise the sound recording instruments while framing his shots. The shooting also had to done mostly at night, as the studio was situated near railway tracks. The resultant noise made shooting impossible during the day.
After making such an illustrious debut he went on to work extensively in the Hindi cinema during the early talkie era. He worked mostly with the directors B P Mishra, R S Choudhury and Homi Master. With Mishra, he shot Draupadi (1931) and Zalim Jawani (1932). He was in charge of shooting R S Choudhury’s Sulochana starrers Khuda Ki Shaan (1931), Madhuri (1932) and Piya Pyare (1934), as well as the epic drama Hamari Betiyan (1936). He shot Homi Master’s adventure fantasy Gul Sanobar (1933), the social Samaj Ki Bhool (1934) which dealt with widow remarriage and the remake of Be Ghadi Mouj (1927) – Do Ghadi Ki Mauj (1935) which starred the popular duo of Sulochana and Dinshaw Billimoria. In the 40’s he shot films like Ali Baba (1940), Ratnavali (1945) and Kisi Ki Yad (1950).
Later in life, he worked in Telugu cinema with legends like B N Reddy and L V Prasad. He shot B N Reddy’s epic romance Malliswari (1951) which became the first Telugu film to be exhibited at an international film festival. He also shot L V Prasad’s Sivaji Ganesan-Savitri starrer Pempudu Koduku (1953). He made a foray into Malayalam cinema with Aasha Deepam (1953). He shot Annapurna Pictures’ first venture Donga Ramudu (1955) starring Akkineni Nageshwara Rao and Savitri. Other films include Jnaanasundari (1961) and Viyarppinte Vila (1962).