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CID (1956)

In search of the mastermind Crime Boss


CID 1956

The biggest grosser of 1956 – Dev Anand’s CID had many a firsts to its credit. It was the first movie directed by Raj Khosla under Guru Dutt banner and was also his debut direction. Khosla always acknowledged Dutt as his true Guru. It was the first time that Dev Anand acted in a movie produced by Guru Dutt.

As legend has it both Guru Dutt and Dev Anand were friends from their struggling days and had a pact that Dev will give a chance to Dutt to direct his home production and Guru will give a chance to Dev to act under him, though Dutt did not exactly direct the movie but the quid pro quo was carried out as Dutt had directed Dev in his home production Baazi. This was also Waheeda Rehman’s debut Bollywood movie, prior to being spotted by Dutt in a Telugu movie she had done a few movies down south. Though he gave a supporting actress role to her in the movie, it was for honing her skills and preparation for Pyaasa for which he had her in mind as the heroine, rest as they say is history.

CID – the movie was also the debut of costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, she is the person who later won an Academy award for her costumes in Gandhi (1982). Zohra Sehgal, the feisty actress who played grandmother roles in later day movies like ‘Cheeni Kum’ etc., was choreographer of the film. Script writer of the movie was Inder Raj Anand who is the father of actor Tinnu Anand.

This movie was one of the earliest experiments with film noir a la Hollywood of the time, a crime thriller with all the ingredients like cars, vamps, chases and labyrinthine dens. The techniques used and Dev’s matter of fact cool Shekhar, the story flow, the shot taking, the crime boss etc. make this film look more contemporary and ahead of its time, we had many copycat movies in the sixties and seventies with Ajit and co. as the crime bosses.

CID was a true classic of its time. It was released on 30 July 1956.

It all begins with a flurry of phone calls with a threat to the editor of a newspaper, who is bent on printing articles about an unknown crime boss, a call to the vamp to silence the editor, a call to the hitman to take care of the editor and finally a call from the editor to inform CID inspector Shekhar (Dev Anand- suave) about the threat. By the time Shekhar reaches the newspaper office the editor has been knifed by Sher Singh (surprise surprise-Mehmood in a bit role and that too negative). After a masquerade a la Sherlock Holmes in an opium den Sher Singh is arrested by Shekhar and identified by Master (Johnny Walker) the eye witness to the murder.

An anonymous call leads Shekhar to Kamini (Waheeda Rehman) who offers bribe on behalf of her boss to Shekhar for the release of Sher Singh, when he refuses the offer he is dumped at a desolate place and wakes up in his senior’s (KN Singh) house where they are celebrating his daughter Rekha’s (Shakila) birthday who is also Shekhar’s eye candy. The crime bosses’ identity is revealed (to the audience) as a big businessman (Bir Sakhuja) who along with Kamini, who turns out to be Rekha childhood buddy, is present in the party. From here on a game of cat and mouse begins as Shekhar tries to find out the identity of the boss and is on the run from the law to save his skin as Sher Singh is murdered by his boss’s men in Shekhar’s lockup ( the same ruse was used in later years in Amitabh’s Dostana) and he is blamed for both murders. After a lot of hullaballo and chases in the chasm of a crime den things turn in favour of the good over evil.

As a thriller, CID was well made no over the top acting; in fact Dev’s mannerisms were developing in the movie but the flourish was absent and he did quite a decent job of his CID inspector and also looks dapper in some great suits. Shakila and K N Singh did not have much to do, but they were there. Though in supporting cast the screen belonged to Waheeda Rehman whenever she was on it, she spoke much with her eyes and it was a grand debut, her skills are seen in the song ‘kahin pe nigahen kahin pe nishana’ where she is giving the cue for Dev to escape.

There is also a story that Dutt asked Waheeda to take pseudonym for movies like Madhubala and Meena Kumari before her but she was adamant and put her foot down to retain her birth name. The music is absolutely brilliant with each and every song, one better than the other. Then there is that song about aamchi Mumbai which is still relevant and sung by Johnny Walker on the screen ‘Ae Dil hai mushkil jeena yahan Jara hatke Zara bachke yeh hai Bambai meri Jaan’. Other songs like the very hummable ‘Leke pehla pehla pyar’ ‘Aankhon Hi aankhon mein Ishara Ho Gaya,’ and ‘Jata Kahan hai deewane’ are also good in fact the last song was cut by censor as they found it vulgar but can now be enjoyed on you tube. Most of the songs are situational and they do impede the flow of the narrative but as they were so good, that they also bring a relief in the tense goings on.

It is said that Khosla was adamant about not giving any songs to Dev as he argued it will look stupid for a serious CID Inspector to sing songs, whereas Dev argued that due to his image if he is not given a song it would not be accepted by the audience, Dutt realised this and convinced Khosla to give a few lines for Dev to mouth in ‘aankhon Hi aankhon mein Ishara Ho Gaya,’. Hats off to O.P. Nayyar for the super duper music. Just as a parting trivia: Guru Dutt gifted an imported car to Khosla on the success of this movie at the box office.

 – Revisited by PAWAN GUPTA

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