Mera Joota Hai Japani
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|"Mera Joota Hai Japani"|
|Film song by Mukesh from the album Shri 420|
Mera Joota Hai Japani (Hindi: मेरा जूता है जापानी; Urdu: میرا جوتا ہے جاپانى ALA-LC: Merā Jūtā hai Jāpānī IPA: [meːrɑː d͡ʒuːt̪ɑː hɛː d͡ʒɑːpɑːniː] lit. My Shoes are Japanese) is a Hindi song with music by Shankar Jaikishan and lyrics by Shailendra, written for the 1955 Bollywood film Shree 420. It was performed by popular Bollywood star Raj Kapoor, though actually sung by playback singer Mukesh.
In the song, the narrator asserts their pride in being Indian, despite their clothes all being from other countries. The chorus runs:
- मेरा जूता है जापानी, ये पतलून इंगलिस्तानी
- सर पे लाल टोपी रूसी, फिर भी दिल है हिन्दुस्तानी
- Merā jūtā hai Jāpānī, ye patlūn Inglistānī
- Sar pe lāl ṭopī Rūsī, phir bhī dil hai Hindustānī
- My shoes are Japanese, these trousers English;
- The red cap on my head, Russian, yet my heart is Indian.
Due to its patriotic themes, the song was widely embraced in its time as a representation of the newly sovereign nation of India. As India was gaining its status as a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic, this song depicted the casting off of the colonialist yoke and the recognition of the internationalist aim of uniting to make India and the world a better place.
This song gained international fame, particularly in the Soviet Union.
- In the opening chapter of Salman Rushdie's 1998 novel The Satanic Verses, Gibreel sings the first lines of the song while falling to the ground, but in English rather than Hindi in "deference to the uprushing host-nation"
- The first lines from the song are heard early in the 1991 film Mississippi Masala, at a significantly tense moment during the expulsion of Indians in Uganda in 1972.
- The 2000 Bollywood film Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani is named after a line in the song.
- Bengali author Mahasweta Devi quoted the lyrics in her inaugural address at the 2006 Frankfurt Book Fair and moved the audience to tears:
This is truly the age where the joota (shoe) is Japani (Japanese), patloon (pants) is Inglistani (English), the topi (hat) is Roosi (Russian), but the dil... dil (heart) is always Hindustani (Indian)... My country, torn, tattered, proud, beautiful, hot, humid, cold, sandy, shining India. My country.
- In the 2009 movie Today's Special starring Aasif Mandvi, "Mera Joota Hai Japani" plays on the radio in Naseeruddin Shah's cab.
- The 2012 re-make song Bollywood by Sasha Dith and DJ Rico Bernasconi featured on on the Buddha Bar XIV compilation features the original recording.
- In the 2013 film Gravity, the Indian astronaut Shariff, voiced by Phaldut Sharma, sings the first line of the song while taking a break from his duties in space.
- The Secret Politics of Our Desires: Innocence, Culpability and Indian Popular Cinema, By Ashis Nandy, Macmillan, 1998
- Raj Kapoor's song Mera joota hai Japani was perfect for Gravity: Phaldut Sharma, DNA India, November 1, 2013
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