Shree 420

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Shri 420
Shree420Poster.jpg
Original poster
Directed by Raj Kapoor
Produced by Raj Kapoor
Written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas
V.P. Sathe
Starring Raj Kapoor
Nargis
Nadira
Music by Shankar-Jaikishan
Cinematography Radhu Karmakar
Edited by G.G. Mayekar
Release date(s) 6 September 1955
Running time 168 min
Country India
Language Hindi

Shree 420 (translation: Mr. 420, also transliterated as Shri 420) is a 1955 Bollywood film directed, produced by and starring Raj Kapoor and Nargis. The number 420 refers to Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code, which prescribes the punishment for the offence of cheating; hence, "Mr. 420" is a derogatory term for a cheat. The film centers on Raj, a poor but educated orphan who comes to Bombay with dreams of success. Kapoor's character is heavily influenced by Charlie Chaplin's "little tramp", much like Kapoor's character in his 1951 Awaara. It was written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, and the music was composed by the team of Shankar Jaikishan. The lyrics were penned by Shailendra.

Shree 420 was the highest grossing film of 1955,[1] and the song "Mera Joota Hai Japani" ("My Shoes are Japanese"), sung by Mukesh, became hugely popular and a patriotic symbol of the newly independent India.

Plot[edit]

A country boy, Raj (Raj Kapoor), from Allahabad, travels to the big city, Bombay, by walking, to earn a living. He falls in love with the poor but virtuous Vidya (Nargis), but is soon seduced by the riches of a freewheeling and unethical lifestyle presented to him by an unscrupulous and dishonest businessman, Seth Sonachand Dharmanand (Nemo) and the sultry temptress Maya (Nadira). He eventually becomes a confidence trickster, or "420," who even cheats in card gambling. Vidya tries hard to make Raj a good man but fails.

Meanwhile, Sonachand comes up with another scheme to exploit poor people, whereby he promises permanent homes to them at just Rs. 100. The scheme pays off, as people start hoarding money for a home, even at the cost of other important things. Vidya's contempt for Raj increases even more. Raj becomes wealthy, but soon realizes that he paid a very high price for it. When Raj discovers that Sonachand has no plans to fulfill his promises, he decides to make wrongs right.

Raj takes all the bond papers of the people's homes and tries to flee Sonachand's home, only to be caught by Sonachands and his cronies. In a scuffle that occurs, Sonachand shoots Raj and he falls unconscious. When people hear the shooting, they come and see Raj nearly dead. Sonachand tells police that Raj was trying to flee after stealing money from his safe, hence Sonachand shot him.

Upon this, the 'dead' Raj springs back to life and using pure logic, proves Sonachand's guilt. Sonachand and his partners are arrested, while Vidya happily forgives Raj. The film ends with Raj saying "Yeh 420 nahin, shree 420 hain" ("These are not simply con men, they are respectable con men").

Cast[edit]

Allusions[edit]

The title refers to section 420 of the Indian penal code, where crimes of theft and deception are punished, which relates to the troubles of the main character.

In Sanskrit, the name of the main character, "Vidya", means knowledge, while "Maya" means illusion.

The title of the song "Ramaiya Vastavaiya" is in Telugu, though the rest of the song's lyrics (and the film) are in Hindi.

Reception[edit]

The film grossed over Rs.20 million. This record was beaten 2 years later by Mother India in 1957.[2]


The song "Mera Joota Hai Japani", in which the singer asserts his pride in being an Indian despite his clothes being from other countries, became, and remains, a patriotic favourite among many Indians. It is often referenced, including in an acceptance speech at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2006 by Bengali author Mahasweta Devi.

The movie proved to be popular in other countries, including the Soviet Union, Romania and Israel. In Russia, it was said that Raj Kapoor was as popular as Jawaharlal Nehru due to the success of the film. In Israel, the song "Ichak Dana Beechak Dana" (transliterated as "Ichikidana") became very popular, and was re-recorded by local singer Naim Rajuan.

Soundtrack[edit]

# Title Singer(s) Lyricist Length
1 "Dil Ka Haal Sune Dilwaala" Manna Dey Shailendra 5:36
2 "Ichak Dana Beechak Dana" Mukesh, Lata Mangeshkar Hasrat Jaipuri 5:08
3 "Mera Juta Hai Japani" Mukesh Shailendra 4:33
4 "Mudh Mudh Ke Na Dekh" Asha Bhosle, Manna Dey Shailendra 6:34
5 "O Janewale" Lata Mangeshkar Hasrat Jaipuri 2:20
6 "Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua" Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey Shailendra 4:22
7 "Ramaiya Vastavaiya" Mohammed Rafi, Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh Shailendra 6:10
8 "Sham Gayi Raat Aayi" Lata Mangeshkar Hasrat Jaipuri 4:00

Awards[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]