How it happened
I made my debut as Kamini in Guru Dutt's “CID”. Those days film festivals were unknown to me. Today as I watch many popular films being screened at IFFI, I feel “CID” would have created quite a sensation had it been shown after its immediate release. Guru Dutt watched me in a Telugu dance drama at Hyderabad in 1955, and directly approached me with an offer to act in his production.
I came from a conservative Muslim family and was not at all willing to try a career in films. The imaginative Guru Dutt persuaded me and my family and I received my first assignment as the second lady in his “CID” in 1956. It was to be directed by his chief assistant Raj Khosla who, already proved his mettle as a director with “Milap” a year ago.
How it felt
Guru Dutt's dear friend, Dev Anand was the hero of the suspense thriller tautly scripted by Inder Raj Anand. I was thrilled to act with my favourite actor Dev Anand who was the most handsome hero of the Indian screen then. I was Kamini, his arch criminal's favourite in “CID”. Shakila performed the character of the romantic heroine opposite Dev Anand.
In the initial days of shooting a number of changes had to be made in the script and I remember on the day of the muhurat, Guru Dutt directed the first shot and insisted on directing the film in his style. To this Raj Khosla politely refused and requested his mentor to give him a free hand in direction. Guru Dutt obliged and Raj Khosla showed his genius in handling a slick crime thriller.
Though my role had shades of a vamp, it was not totally vampish. I strongly objected to showing my back in the film as I have always protested against exposure . This angered Raj Khosla and we had a strong difference of opinion. Dev Anand stepped in and interfered thus creating an understanding between all of us. This was Dev, always cooperative and helping.
How life changed
In my first few takes I just blatantly followed Raj Khosla's words and imitated Dev. Later both helped me to develop confidence and give my own touch to my character. In the scene where I invite Dev Anand to bargain for the release of Mehmood who was in police lock up, Dev was brilliant in performing lifting his left eyebrow and delivering his dialogues with confidence.
To react to his anger, Raj Khosla directed me to smile, underplay and use a Bharatanatyam mudra whilst delivering my lines, “To Phir Kar Lijiye Giraftar.” After the shot Dev walked to me, shook hands and congratulated me, promising me a lifetime's role in his production. He kept his promise 10 years later with “Guide”.
Though I had initial differences with Raj Khosla I can never deny, he was a lion at heart and a master in handling emotions and suspense.
The way he picturised the climax song, “Kahin Pe Nigahen” on me proved he was a master at his craft. “CID” set a trend in Hindi films by showing the first ever lock up death of a criminal by his colleagues.
To me “CID” is still fresh in my memory as my first film was a realistic one which became an instant hit.