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Mera Joota hai Japani (Hindi: मेरा जूता है जापानी; Urdu: میرا جوتا ہے جاپانى‎ ALA-LC: Merā Jūtā hai Jāpānī IPA: [meːrɑː d͡ʒuːt̪ɑː hɛː d͡ʒɑːpɑːniː] lit. My Shoes are Japanese) is a Hindi song with music by Shankar Jaikishan and lyrics by Shailendra, written for the 1955 Bollywood film Shree 420. It was performed by popular Bollywood star Raj Kapoor, though actually sung by playback singer Mukesh.

In Gravity, the goofy Indian astronaut Shariff, voiced by Phaldut Sharma, sings the first line of the song while taking a break from his duties in space. Shariff then does a Bollywood-style dance that is constricted by his heavy, stiff spacesuit and Matt Kowalski remarks that it looks like he is doing some form of the Macarena. This song was chosen by Sharma himself because it was lighthearted and contrasted the chaotic events that would unfold moments later. 

PremiseEdit

In the song, the narrator asserts his pride in being Indian, despite his clothes all being from other countries. The chorus runs: मेरा जूता है जापानी, ये पतलून इंगलिश्तानी सर पे लाल टोपी रूसी, फिर भी दिल है हिन्दुस्तानी Merā jūtā hai Jāpānī, ye patlūn Inglistānī Sar pe lāl ṭopī Rūsī, phir bhī dil hai Hindustānī

(In English, this means: My shoes are Japanese, these trousers English; The red cap on my head, Russian, yet my heart is Indian.) 

Due to its patriotic themes, the song was widely embraced in its time as a representation of the newly sovereign nation of India. As India was gaining its status as a sovereign socialist secular democratic republic, this song depicted the casting off of the colonialist yoke and the recognition of the internationalist aim of uniting to make India and the world a better place. This song gained international fame, particularly in the Soviet Union.

Cultural referencesEdit

  • The 2000 Bollywood film Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani is named after a line in the song.
  • In the 2009 movie Today's Special starring Aasif Mandvi, "Mera Joota Hai Japani" plays on the radio in Naseeruddin Shah's cab. 

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