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Shree 420 (or Shri 420; transl. Mr. 420) is a 1955 Indian Hindi-language comedy drama film, directed and produced by Raj Kapoor, written by Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, 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 influenced by Charlie Chaplin's "little tramp", much like Kapoor's character in his 1951 Awaara. The music was composed by the team of Shankar Jaikishan, and the lyrics were penned by Shailendra and Hasrat Jaipuri.
|Directed by||Raj Kapoor|
|Produced by||Raj Kapoor|
|Written by||Khwaja Ahmad Abbas|
|Screenplay by||Khwaja Ahmad Abbas |
|Story by||Khwaja Ahmad Abbas|
|Edited by||G.G. Mayekar|
|Box office||est. ₹49.4 million|
Shree 420 was the highest-grossing Indian film of 1955, the highest grossing Indian film of all time at the time of its release and the song "Mera Joota Hai Japani" ("My Shoes are Japanese"), sung by Mukesh, became popular and a patriotic symbol of the newly independent India.
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 a Ponzi 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 Sonachand 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 in order of the opening credits of the film
- Nargis as Vidya
- Nadira as Maya
- Raj Kapoor as Ranbir Raj
- Nemo as Seth Sonachand Dharmanand
- Lalita Pawar as Ganga Mai
- M. Kumar as Beggar
- Indira Billi as Seth Sonachand Dharmanand Daughter
- Hari Shivdasani as Philachand
- Nana Palsikar
- Bhudo Advani as Dharmanand's valet
- Pessi Patel as Pawn Shop Owner
- Ramesh Sinha as Street Dweller
- Rashid Khan as Raddiwala
- Sheila Vaaz as dancer
- S. P. Berry
- Kathana as Customer
- Shailendra lyricist
- Rajoo as young boy
- Iftikhar as Police Inspector
- Uma Devi as Maya's Neighbor
- Mirajkar as Inspector
- Late Bishamber
The title of one of the songs in the movie is "Ramaiya Vastavaiya" is in Telugu, which means "Lord Ram, you will come". The title alone is derived from an old Telugu folk song. Apart from that, the rest of the song's lyrics (and the film) are in Hindi. The story goes, the Telugu dubbed version of the film Aah, 1953 was so well received that Raj Kapoor was elated and showed his gratitude for Telugu audiences by having a song in the film beginning with these lines.
At the beginning of the movie, the main protagonist explains to a policeman that one needs to stand on one's head to make sense of this world. He mentions that this is the reason why even great leaders stand on their heads. This is an allusion to several political leaders of that time who enjoyed practicing the Shirshasana, a yoga asana where one stands on his head. In his autobiography, Nehru described that the shirshasana was his favorite pose, and how he often did the shirshasana in jail, too.
– Rishi Kapoor, January 20, 2017
Raj Kapoor's real life children Randhir, Ritu and Rhishi were featured in the song "Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua", Rishi revealed that Nargis bribed him with chocolate and recalled it in a 2017 interview. 
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 film 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 Awaara and Shree 420. In Israel, the song "Ichak Dana Beechak Dana" (transliterated as "Ichikidana") became popular and was re-recorded by local singer Naim Rajuan.
At the Indian box office in 1955, the film grossed ₹3.9 crore (equivalent to ₹340 crore or US$48 million in 2019), with a net income of ₹2 crore (equivalent to ₹174 crore or US$24 million in 2019). This record was beaten two years later by Mother India in 1957.
It was released in the Soviet Union in 1956, coming second on the Soviet box office charts that year. Despite being imported at an unusually high price, it was the most successful foreign film of the year at the Soviet box office, drawing an audience of 35 million viewers.
|Domestic (India)||₹3.9 crore ($8.19 million)[n 1] in 1955||$78 million (₹490 crore)|
|8.75 million SUR[n 2] ($2.19 million)[n 3]
(₹1.04 crore)[n 1]
|$21 million (₹128 crore)|
|₹618 crore |
|1.||"Dil Ka Haal Sune Dilwaala"||Shailendra||Manna Dey||5:36|
|2.||"Mera Joota Hai Japani"||Shailendra||Mukesh||4:33|
|3.||"Mudh Mudh Ke Na Dekh"||Shailendra||Manna Dey, Asha Bhosle||6:34|
|4.||"Pyar Hua Iqrar Hua"||Shailendra||Lata Mangeshkar, Manna Dey||4:22|
|5.||"Ramaiya Vastavaiya"||Shailendra||Lata Mangeshkar, Mohammed Rafi, Mukesh||6:10|
|6.||"Ichak Dana Beechak Dana"||Hasrat Jaipuri||Lata Mangeshkar, Mukesh||5:08|
|7.||"O Janewale"||Hasrat Jaipuri||Lata Mangeshkar||2:20|
|8.||"Sham Gayi Raat Aayi"||Hasrat Jaipuri||Lata Mangeshkar||4:00|
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