Bollywood Rewind | CID: The Dev Anand thriller that gave Bombay its anthem
In this weekly column, we revisit the nuggets of the golden years of Hindi cinema. This week we revisit the 1956 CID film by Raj Khosla.
Newspaper editor murdered, and there is enough evidence for CID inspector Shekhar to catch her man, but the case is certain to go beyond what he appears. Shekhar digs deeper but finds himself accused of police brutality as the criminal who killed the editor dies. Fleeing the system to prove his innocence, the nimble detective, who remains suave even under the worst circumstances, is a man who can find a needle in a haystack.
The 1956 film CID takes its hat off to Hitchcock-style noir cinema. At the time of its release, the genre was not as popular in Hindi films as it later became. The morally ambiguous characters painted in all shades of gray, the femme fatale who uses her sexuality to achieve her ends and the detective who has been targeted by the system – they have all been ably used by director Raj Khosla and writer Inder Raj Anand in Guru CID produced by Dutt.
The film opens with a suspicious phone call ordering the murder of a certain person but we don’t know who is behind the phone. Shortly after, the newspaper’s editor is assassinated and Shekhar arrives at the scene. Played by Dev Anand, Shekhar is the quintessential hero who invades the screen with his charm and wit. In a scene where he has to follow a suspect instead of attending his beloved’s birthday party, his girlfriend, played by Shakila, tells him, “If you go, it’s over.” He just says “I’m sorry” and jumps up but is ready the next day to serenade him with “Aankhon Hi Aakhon Mein Ishaara Ho Gaya.” Dev’s Shekhar is quick on his feet. He can put two and two together when he finds one “Charas vali cigarette” at the scene of the crime and zero where it could find the criminal.
CID was Waheeda Rehman’s first film in Hindi films and it is evident that she was still perfecting her craft here. There is a certain musicality in his dialogues but his presence on the screen is captivating. Son Kamini distinguishes between being the femme fatale whose moral compass does not despise murder but still has enough morality to be swayed on the right side. Mehmood, often remembered for his comedic outings, is menacing here as a hitman.
CID takes his breathing moments with the character of Johnny Walker – a pickpocket who is a petty criminal but can’t imagine selling his soul so a murderer can escape. One of the most memorable songs filmed about him “Yeh Hai Bombay Meri Jaan” has been romanticized to death in the six decades since its release, but it cleverly conveys the plot with lines like “Beghar Ko Aawaara Yahan Kehte Has Has, Khud Kaate Gale Sabke Kahein Isko Business.”
This effective use of the songs is consistent as the film’s pre-climax cleverly uses the lyrics of “Kahin Pe Nigahen Kahin Pe Nishana” moving the story forward in a very intelligent way. Not only the lyrics, CID also uses its background music quite effectively. When Shekhar’s character first meets Kamini, the music that follows him to his mansion is enough to intrigue you.
The film is for the most part a thriller, but by the time audiences find out who actually made it, which is almost halfway through the film, they are invested in Shekhar’s journey and want him to figure it out as well. riddle so that he can be the hero he is meant to be.
CID’s is one of those musical classics from OP Nayyar that has achieved evergreen status. Besides the aforementioned songs, “Leke Pehla Pehla Pyaar” and “Boojh Mera Kya Naam Re” were also part of this album. The now famous “Jaata Kahaan Hai Dewaane” was removed from the film, despite being on audio, as the censorship committee found some lyrics objectionable. Jan Nisar Akhtar and Majrooh Sultanpuri wrote the lyrics for the film.
At its core, CID is a timeless story that would work with the correct embellishments even today, maybe even become a franchise.
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CID is broadcast on Prime Video and YouTube.
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