5 Interesting Facts About Rishi Kapoor’s Debut ‘Mera Naam Joker’

Here are some lesser-known facts about Rishi Kapoor’s debut film Mera Naam Joker.

Updated
Bollywood
3 min read
Rishi Kapoor in <i>Mera Naam Joker</i>.
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Before Rishi Kapoor made his debut as a full-fledged leading man in Bobby (1973), he was introduced as a younger Raj Kapoor in his father’s ambitious film Mera Naam Joker. The film released way back in 1970 and it is regarded as one of Bollywood’s iconic productions. Though it was slammed back then by critics because of its experimental nature, over time the film received a lot of appreciation. We bring to you some interesting facts about Rishi Kapoor’s official debut film Mera Naam Joker, directed by his father Raj Kapoor.

1. Mera Naam Joker & Sangam Are the Only Hindi Films to Have Two Intervals

A still from <i>Mera Naam Joker</i>.
A still from Mera Naam Joker.

Among the iconic films of Raj Kapoor are Sangam and Mera Naam Joker. However, did you know that both hold the record of being the only Hindi films to have had two intervals? They are among the longest films Bollywood has ever made till date. While Mera Naam Joker (1970) has a run time of 4 hours and 15 minutes, Sangam’s (1964) screen time was 3 hours and 58 minutes. Calls for a lot of patience!

2. Raj Kapoor Mortgaged All His Assets to Ensure Mera Naam Joker’s Release

5 Interesting Facts About Rishi Kapoor’s Debut ‘Mera Naam Joker’

Rishi Kapoor, Raj Kapoor’s son, had revealed earlier that his father had mortgaged all his assets, including RK Studios, to ensure the release of Mera Naam Joker. Rishi had made his debut with his dad’s film.

The film took six years to complete and was made on a massive budget, with the filmmaker getting an entire circus troupe including ballerina Kseniya Ryabinkina from Russia to star alongside the Indian actors. Unfortunately, the film was criticised for its unusual plot and it tanked at the box office. In order to save the sinking ship, Kapoor made a more traditional romance Bobby, with Rishi and newcomer Dimple Kapadia in the lead. It was a huge risk, but luck favoured Raj and the movie became a huge hit.

3. Manoj Kumar Re-Wrote His Dialogues

Manoj Kumar in a still from <i>Mera Naam Joker</i>.
Manoj Kumar in a still from Mera Naam Joker.

It takes some courage to challenge a scriptwriter’s skills, but Manoj Kumar had expressed to Raj Kapoor that he was dissatisfied with his dialogues. The filmmaker asked Manoj Kumar to write his own dialogues and show it to him. Kapoor was so impressed that he not just kept the re-written dialogues but also asked Kumar to improvise on lines from the film.

4. After Mera Naam Joker, Simi Garewal and Rishi Kapoor Reunited on Screen After a Decade

Simi Garewal in <i>Mera Naam Joker</i>.
Simi Garewal in Mera Naam Joker.

Rishi Kapoor was just 18 years old and his co-star Simi Garewal 23 when they were cast in Mera Naam Joker. After the film, the duo did not share screen space for 10 years. A decade later, Simi and Rishi starred opposite each other in Karz. They were a part of Kabhi Kabhie but didn’t share screen space. When Mera Naam Joker clocked 47 years in 2017, Rishi Kapoor shared a throwback picture from the sets of his and Simi.

5. Mera Naam Joker’s Songs Were Not Sung by Lata Mangeshkar

Lata Mangeshkar lent her voice to all of Raj Kapoor’s films. However, Mera Naam Joker is the only one where not a single song has been sung by her. Instead, Lata’s younger sister Asha Bhosle pitched in for the female parts. However, the gamble payed off and the soundtrack is now considered one of Raj Kapoor’s most memorable. Songs like “Jeena Yahan Marna Yahan” and “Ang Lag Jaa Balma” have been raised to iconic status.

(This article is being republished from The Quint’s archives)

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