‘Shree 420 a masterpiece from RK banner’ by Dharma Kirthi


Movie of the Week:: Shree 420

Produced & Directed :: Raj Kapoor
Story & Dialogues :; Khwaja Ahmad Abbas and Vasant Sathe
Starring :: Raj Kapoor Nargis Nadira , Lalita Pawar… & Nemo
Music by ::Shankar-Jaikishan
Lyrics :: Shailendra & Hasrat Jaipuri
Cinematography :: Radhu Karmakar
Edited by :: G.G. Mayekar
Release date :: 6 September 1955

Release date :: 6 September 1955
Shree 420, is a masterpiece, from RK banner by Raj Kapoor, a captain of a great creative team with master craftsmen like Khwaja Ahmed Abbas, Shailedra ,Hasrat and above all Shankar Jaikishan.

I saw this movie in around, 1966-67, in a small theater, Sri Sai in Bollarum, a suburb of Secunderabad, situated in the cantonment area. The hall was a 2 km walk from my Pinni ( Mausi)’s place, where I had gone with my mother in summer vacations. Clearly recall, every minute detail of the experience, the excitement of listening to one classic song after another and the energy, generated in the theater at each of these songs.

The movie begins, with a small town boy Ranbir Raj, coming from Allahabad, to Bombay, to make a life with his BA degree and a medal for his hard work and honesty. He breaks into a song, not any run of the mill song, but a song which is a masterpiece, and famous globally, Mera joota hai japani..Thus begins the movie, and his journey..
The movie ends with the same song, but this time with his lady love the beautiful Vidya ( Nargis ) with him..

The strength of the movie lies in two things a very powerful story line with dialogues, which only a master craftsman lie K A Abbas, can write. What a story, and what powerful dialogues, every dialogue a gem, which leaves an indelible imprint on your mind. Every character in the story has a clearly defined role. Take for example Lalita Pawar, a powerhouse of talent, her entry, in the initial scenes, gives an indication of the magnitude of a great movie unfolding; Kumar as the beggar, who gives Raj his first lessons of life and wisdom, to survive in the city.

KA Abbas, is a great story teller, and his scripts have that, powerful, message and content relevant to the times of the movie. Released in 1955, less than a decade after Independence, the story revolves around the problem facing the nation, the exploitation by the rich and filthy rich by hook and crook, widespread unemployment and problems emanating from it.

On the back of such a powerful story, Raj Kapoor, has created a classic after the failure of Aah, he reverts to the success formula of Awara of taking on the social issues. He is in his zone directing such a story, and his “Chaplin- Laurel” act of part, tramp and a part joker, suits Raj Kapoor, to the T. In Awara his character was “dark grey” with seeds of moving towards white. Here he comes, as a snow-white and gravitates towards, grey. Here, K A Abbas, has highlighted the excellent use of ” intellect” as a primary ingredient or wealth creation be it honest or otherwise.

If story and dialogues are the body of the film, then lyrics and music is the heart and soul. Every song is class by itself, and the first half of the movie is actually, a musical, interrupted by few dialogues in between. Such is the powerful music by SJ, be it songs or BGM, they have put their heart and soul, to make the movie, a musical block buster. So many hit songs are hidden in the BGM, specially “kisi ki muskararhaton pe ho nisar” which is played in different rhythms. What a range, they had in creating tunes.

Raj Kapoor’s film making skills are at their best, every frame, a lesson in film making, every angle of picturization, is creative and has traces of a great visionary, a dream merchant who can only think big, bigger and bigger. He has used the multiple imaging on screen to narrate, the events in a fast forward mode, and his grandeur is in full flow, in the songs picturized in the rich world. The massive and rich sets, and seductive costumes for Maya (Nadira) , and those massive mansions for the filthy rich, he leaves no stone unturned. On the flip side, he exposes his voyeuristic, inclination, in a scene, showing Nargis, undressing, after she is humiliated in a party; which is absolutely avoidable.

In my humble opinion, he is at his best, as a film maker in this movie, with absolute command on his craft. He comes of age in this movie, as very mature film maker out to prove that Awara was not a flash in the pan, following the debacle of AAH.

Acting wise, the credits go to the smaller parts/roles,  as the best Lalita Pawar, Nemo, as Seth Sonachand Dharamchand and Nadira as Maya. Nargis as usual is a powerhouse of an actress, who can outshine any one in eve a bit role. Here she has a very limited role, but her presence is enough to enhance the value of the scene. The raw passion in her eyes, can emote anything, without a word. Raj Kapoor was very fortunate to have Nargis as his co-star in his early films, who gave her everything to RK.

In all a sheer, joy for a movie and music buff like me, can watch it innumerable times, and yet experience something new every time. Kudos to Raj Kapoor , showman and film maker. Sharing the honours for its success in equal measure are SJ . Outstanding music, matchless, evergreen. SJ, too, emphatically, make a statement, that they are the Kings and Emperors in making of Hindi Film Music..Barsaat, and Awara were no flukes…

I am posting a very special song from the movie, which is very melodious, and highlights the creative team’s class, showing Nargis, and her inner voice, coming out of her in snow white, costume..This Hasrat written song is very touching, and is a lesser heard song from the movie..and Lata’s rendition is class.

tumhe qasam hai meri dil ko yu naa tadpaao
ye iltija hai ke mud mud ke dekhte jaao

o jaanewale mud ke zara dekhte jaana, zara dekhte jaana
dil tod ke to chal diye, mujhko na bhulana, zara dekhte jaana

fariyad kar rahi hai khaamosh nigaahe, khaamosh nigaahe
aansu ki tarah aankh se mujhko na girana, zara dekhte jaana
o jaanewale mud ke zara dekhte jaana, zara dekhte jaana

qismat ne kaha aakar meri baat bigaadi, meri baat bigaadi
manzil pe aake luta mere dil ka khazana, zara dekhte jaana
o jaanewale mud ke zara dekhte jaana, zara dekhte jaana


Lakshmi, this one is for you..

O Janewale Mud Ke Zara Dekhte Jaana Lata Mangeshkar Film Shree 420 (1955) Shankar…
  • M.k. Rajkapoor Nothing to more with me,Dharmaji,You had explained every fact about d Gr8,creation of Raj saab.At that he was only 30 yrs old.I saw d film in Krishna talkies,Ahmedabad in 1955 with my father.I was 8 yrs old.,but my self plzd with this movie.
    2 hrs · Like · 4
  • Nandkumar Kadwe What a detailed, Superb writeup… Dharmaji..
    A diehard fan of Raj…remembers every scene,dialogue, songs..of this unforgettable movie..
    I feel this is one of the Top 3 movies..of Hindi film Industry…
    1 hr · Like · 1
  • Subhash Puranik I was 9 and saw this film with my cousin in Udipi Karnataka i dint understand hindi but liked the film like anything and still I rellish
    59 mins · Like · 1
  • Lakshmi Kanta Tummala WOW, is all I can say! What a detailed write-up of your movie experience and how interesting the narration!! Thank you,Dharma, for the dedication which is very special to me since this is one of my most favorite movies.

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