Number 7 2017/08/22
Which was the first Hindi film song?
You see that I was careful to say, Hindi and film, because there may have been a non-Hindi or/and non-film song. Of course, everybody knows that it was 'de de Khudaa ke naam pe pyaare' from Alam Ara (1931), lyrics by ?, music by Firozeshah M Mistry, sung by Wazir Mohammed Khan.
How do we know this? Because by all accounts Alam Ara was the first Hindi talkie (actually any language talkie making the word Hindi redundant) and the producer Ardeshir M Irani told us that he recorded this song first by using his Tanar system..
Who was the lyricist? Officially we do not know, but a good guess can be made, The film was based on a play Joseph David (Penkar) who is credited with the play and the dialogs. In those days usually the dialog writers also wrote the songs. But we don't know for sure in this case.
So this was the first solo song. Which one was the first duet? We really do not know for sure because in Alam Ara, all songs are solos except one, which is a chorus.
Luckily, we do know the second picture that was released. It was Shirin Farhad, also based on a popular play. The Geet Kosh lists 5 songs as solos out of 18. One is listed as chorus and Number 11 is listed as a duet by Master Nissar and Jehanara Kajjan. So, Number 11, 'naseem-e-subah tu itna unhen sunaa denaa' looks like a good answer. Unluckily, we do not know if the remaining 11 songs are solos, duets or what. All we can say is that it is Number 11 based on current research, as far as we know, it may change tomorrow etc.
Next time somebody proudly tells you he knows who did X first, you know how to respond :)
Homework: The above was a male-female duet because of our tacit assumption. Which are the first male-male and female-female duets?