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Mera Naam Joker (transl. "My Name is Joker") is a 1970 Indian drama film, directed and produced by Raj Kapoor, and written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas. The film stars Kapoor as the eponymous character, with Simi Garewal, Kseniya Ryabinkina and Padmini in supporting roles, and was also the debut of Kapoor's son Rishi Kapoor. The plot focuses on a clown who must make his audience laugh at the cost of his own sorrows. Three women who shaped his life view his final performance.

Mera Naam Joker
Mera Naam Joker poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byRaj Kapoor
Produced byRaj Kapoor
Screenplay byK. A. Abbas
Story byK. A. Abbas
StarringRaj Kapoor
Simi Garewal
Manoj Kumar
Rishi Kapoor
Dara Singh
Kseniya Ryabinkina
Rajendra Kumar
Music byShankar Jaikishan
CinematographyRadhu Karmakar
Edited byRaj Kapoor
Distributed byR. K. Films
Release date
  • 18 December 1970 (1970-12-18)
Running time
244 mins
Box officeest. ₹16.81 crore (U.S.S.R.)

The film is one of the lengthiest films of Indian cinema. After Sangam became a blockbuster, Mera Naam Joker was highly anticipated as it was under production for six years and heavily publicized, loosely based on Kapoor's own life. The film was partly made with the participation of Soviet actors and was partly shot in Moscow.[2] The film's music, still very popular, was composed by Shankar Jaikishan, for which the duo got their ninth Filmfare award.

In India, upon release the film was rejected by audiences and critics, putting Kapoor into a financial crisis, as the film was panned for its length and plot. The film has gained a cult status,[3] and is regarded as a classic today. Both audience's and critics' response has turned highly favorable with the passage of time. An abridged version was released in the 1980s and had a highly successful run at the box office. Kapoor termed it his favorite film and described it as having deep philosophical depth and meaning. The film is regarded as one of Kapoor's finest works today with film experts labeling it as a "misunderstood masterpiece".[4]

In the Soviet Union, the film also initially drew a mixed reaction from critics,[2] yet commercially became a blockbuster at the Soviet box office after it released there in 1972. Rather than being released as a single film, the film's three chapters were released separately as three parts in the Soviet Union.[5]


Mera Naam Joker is the story of Raju, considered the best circus clown ever. Ever since Raju's father died in an accident during his performance, Raju's mother had been repulsed by the circus. As luck would have it, Raju had a natural affinity towards the circus world. The film traces Raju's journey from his childhood to the day of his last performance.

The first chapter is about an adolescent called Raju (Rishi Kapoor) and deals with his infatuation with his teacher, Mary (Simi Garewal). She gives him confidence in himself, and he discovers the world of femininity and desire. She is older than him. He attends her wedding in a state of false merriment. Mary's lessons nevertheless aren't lost: Raju comes to realise that he was born to make the world laugh, despite his own troubles.

After his first heartbreak, the story follows adult Raju (Raj Kapoor) who have found work with Gemini Circus as a clown. His dream materialises! The circus is owned by Mahendra Singh (Dharmendra), who has understood Raju's potential and hires him. The circus hosts a visiting group of artists from Russia, and he falls in love with Marina (Ksenia Ryabinkina), the lead trapezist. Despite the language barrier, they become close, and Raju half hopes that they might live together. But he faces heartbreak once again when the circus ends and Marina returns to Russia. It is in this chapter that Raju's mother dies during his performance, watching him perform the very stunts which caused her husband's death.

In the final chapter, Raju has left the circus and wanders aimlessly. One day, he meets Meenu (Padmini), an orphaned girl who has ambitions of becoming a famous actress. Meenu and Raju set up an association, start a small circus business and later move on to the theatre. They are quite successful, but their collaboration ends when she is offered a role in a film. She leaves him, and he realises she has used him in her pursuit of success.

Raju always carries a clown doll which belonged to his father. Every time he falls in love, he gives away his beloved doll, only to see it come back to him. The doll is used as a metaphor for Raju's simplistic heart where there is room for everyone.

At the end of the film, Raju is shown doing his final act, as promised to Mahendra. He invites the three ladies he was in love with, to watch his last performance. He also reassures the audience that he will soon be back with more to make his audience laugh again.



All music composed by Shankar-Jaikishan.

1."Ae Bhai Zara Dekh Ke Chalo"NeerajManna Dey6:02
2."Ang Lag Jaa Balma"ShailendraAsha Bhosle4:04
3."Daagh Na Lag Jaye"Hasrat Jaipuri
4."Jane Kahan Gaye Wo Din"Hasrat JaipuriMukesh4:48
5."Kehta Hai Joker Sara Zamana[6]"NeerajMukesh5:28
6."Sadke Heer Tujh Pe"Prem DhawanMohammed Rafi2:55
7."Kaate Na Kaate Raina"Hasrat Jaipuri
  • Bhosle
  • Dey
8."Teetar Ke Do Aage Teetar"Neeraj
  • Mukesh
  • Bhosle
9."Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan"Shaily ShailendraMukesh4:28
Total length:46:36


Mera Naam Joker was under production for six years, with Raj Kapoor investing much of his own personal fortune.[7] All his assets were mortgaged.[8]



Upon release in India, Mera Naam Joker was widely derided for its length and the experimental nature of its plot, and became a critical and commercial failure.[9] It later came to be considered a cult classic.[7][10][11] It is considered one of Kapoor's best films.[12] The film had two intervals.[13] Its reputation was revived.[14] This happened after India was introduced to world cinema.[15] Kapoor's mask was burned in a fire at RK Studios.[16]

Soviet UnionEdit

In the Soviet Union, the film also initially drew a mixed reaction from critics,[2] yet commercially the film became a blockbuster at the Soviet box office after it released there in 1972. Rather than being released as a single film, the film's three chapters were released separately as three parts in the Soviet Union. The first part drew 29 million box office admissions, the second part drew 22.6 million admissions, and the final part 21.5 million admissions, adding up to a total of 73.1 million admissions at the Soviet box office.[5] This was equivalent to approximately 18.28 million Soviet rubles[17] ($22.13 million,[18] ₹16.81 crore)[19] at the time, or $133 million (₹846 crore) adjusted for inflation in 2017.

Running timesEdit

The movie had a running time 255 minutes with two intervals. The international DVD release from Yash Raj Films Home Entertainment runs for 233 minutes (224 with the disc's PAL speed-up), while the Indian DVD by Shemaroo Entertainment is heavily cut at 184 minutes. Mera Naam Joker is the second Hindi film to have two intervals, the first being Sangam (1964).[20][21]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Dwyer, Rachel (2006). Filming the Gods: Religion and Indian Cinema. Routledge. p. 106. ISBN 9781134380701.
  2. ^ a b c Salazkina, Masha (2010). "Soviet-Indian Coproductions: Alibaba as Political Allegory" (PDF). Cinema Journal. 49 (4): 71–89 [72–73]. doi:10.1353/cj.2010.0002.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ a b "Мое имя Клоун (Mera Naam Joker, 1970)". KinoPoisk (in Russian). Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  6. ^ "Average profit to Saregama from the music track is $3192". RedMux. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  7. ^ a b "Cult Hindi films that flopped". The Times of India. 25 November 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Moscow Prime Time: How the Soviet Union Built the Media Empire that Lost the Cultural Cold War, page 48, Cornell University Press, 2011
  18. ^ "Archive". Central Bank of Russia. 1972. Retrieved 29 December 2009.
  19. ^ "Official exchange rate (LCU per US$, period average)". World Bank. 1972. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  20. ^ "New script: Bollywood cuts a long story short". The Times of India. 10 May 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2015.
  21. ^ "'Lagaan made me brave'". The Telegraph. 15 June 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2015.

External linksEdit