Shree 420
(Mr. 420)

Introduction by Professor Samir Dayal
Screening on Film
Directed by Raj Kapoor.
With Raj Kapoor, Nargis, Nadira.
India, 1955, 35mm, black & white, 177 min.
Hindi with English subtitles.

If Kapoor tipped his hat to Chaplin with the title of Awaara (“The Tramp”), in his follow-up, he adopts the iconic bundle of clothing tied to a stick slung over the shoulder as he plays an innocent country boy who comes to Mumbai only to be tempted by the greed and corruption of the urban rich. Nargis appears once again as the virtuous love-object who also serves as the protagonist’s conscience, but here she has competition in the form of a femme fatale who transforms the hero into a swindler. (“Mr. 420” refers to section 420 in the Indian penal code, which covers confidence schemes.) The film’s score includes some of the most famous songs associated with Kapoor.

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