Devdas (1935), whose Hindi re-make established the legendary career of
Kundanlal Saigal. Some of the notable early talkie films include King of
Ayodhya (1932), Lal-e-yaman (1933), Char Darvesh, Daku Ki Ladki, Miss
1933, Bambai Ki Mohini (1934) and Nai Duniya.
A number of films of this period like V. Santharam’s Duniya Na
Mane, Aadmi and Padosi, Franz Osten’s Achut Kanya, Mehboob’s Watan,
Ek hi Raasta and Aurat made a strong plea against social injustices.
Veteran historical film-maker Sohrab Modi played a remarkable role in
shaping the Indian films by enriching their style and presentation.
Prabhat’s Sairandhri, which was processed and printed in Germany in
1933, became India’s first colour film. However, the first indigenously
made colour film was Ardashir Irani’s Kisan Kanya made in 1937 and
directed by Gidwani.
J.B.H. Wadia and Homi Wadia were the forerunners of the stunt films
in India with their Hunterwali (1935). The 30s was a period in Indian
cinema when ‘Wadia’ and ‘Nadia’ were synonymous. The Australian
actress Mary Evans became a stunt actress for the Wadias and earned the
sobriquet “Fearless Nadia”. The Wadias made films like Toofan Mail,
Flying Ranee, Punjab Mail and so on. J.B.H. Wadia’s Naujawan (1937)
became the first song-less film. Prakash was another Bombay company,
which specialized in making thrillers. Its Passing Show, with Jayant in the
role of a masked hero, and Mehboob’s Deccan Queen, which portrayed a
female mask-wearing bandit, became great treats. Premsagar (1939)
produced and directed by K. Subrahmanyam, was the first Hindi film to be
made in South India. India’s first dream girl, Devika Rani, began her
career in the 1930’s and became the top heroine of her days, starring in
movies such as Kara and A Throw of Dice. The other renowned female
leads were Durga Khote, Nadia, Jamuna, Padma Devi and Kanan Devi.
The important male leads of the 1930s were Prithviraj Kapoor, K.L.
Saigal, Ashok Kumar and P.C. Barua.
The 1940s was a tumultuous decade; the first half was ravaged by war
and the second saw drastic political changes all over the world. V.
Shantaram, the doyen of lyrical films, made Dr. Kotnis Ki Amar Kahani,
Padosi, Do Aankhen Barah Haath, Pinjra, Chaani, Jhanak Jhanak Payal
Baaje and Geet Gaya Pattharon Ne. The 40s witnessed production of