Shree 420 (1955)

  |  Comedy, Crime, Drama

Shree 420 (1955) Poster

Wearing torn Japanese shoes, English trousers, a red Russian cap, and a Hindustani heart, orphaned Ranbir Raj comes to Bombay to make his fortune. He pawns his gold medal, gambles with the ... See full summary »



  • Nargis and Raj Kapoor in Shree 420 (1955)
  • Shree 420 (1955)
  • Shree 420 (1955)
  • Nargis and Raj Kapoor in Shree 420 (1955)
  • Nargis and Raj Kapoor in Shree 420 (1955)
  • Nargis, Raj Kapoor, Nadira, Nemo, and Lalita Pawar in Shree 420 (1955)

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User Reviews

7 March 2005 | rlelias
| Kapoor's technique
Shree 420 is a classic Bollywood "social" of the 1950s. Its romanticized populism deserves comparison to Frank Capra's films. As in Kapoor's earlier Awara, the hero is a Chaplinesque tramp, another vagabond (as in Awara). Poor but honest (and happy), he falls in love with Vidya (Nargis), but is soon tempted to partner with a fat millionaire who makes money through fraud. Raj soon becomes rich but just as quickly regrets his choice, with Vidya serving throughout as the voice of his conscience. Songs in Kapoor's films are classics, but beyond their quality, the way Kapoor uses them is an important aspect of his directorial technique. In a pivotal scene, Raj (Kapoor's hero shares his first name) staggers drunk from a nightclub to encounter a stone-faced Vidya outside her poor home. The narrative problem here is that she – and the viewer – must condemn Raj but, at the same time, the movie has to communicate that she still loves him. Kapoor deftly solves this problem by showing Vidya staring coldly while a white-robed specter of Vidya sings a love song to the departing Raj: two Vidyas, one who censures him, another who reaffirms her love for him. And a good song. Imagine how a Hollywood film might resolve this. How many words would it take? How many tears? Kapor allows the stone-faced Vidya to image our disapproval while the spectral Vidya's song reveals what is going on in her mind.

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