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Sony TV's crime fiction show CID has defied age and logic to remain on the boil for 14 long years, without a break.
As it turns 15 with 808 episodes, 603 crime stories, an uncut 111-minute episode listed in The Guinness Book of World Records and a file of Bollywood personalities like Ashutosh Gowarikaremerging from its folds, Saloni Bhatia explores why CID is such an uncanny hit on the Indian airwaves
For 14 long years now, ACP Pradyuman has not been given a promotion, and that, despite him shooting down his only son who had turned a terrorist. Not just that, for the last one-and-a-half decades, Daya has broken many a bone on his boss' constant instruction "Daya, darwaza tod do". Many of the show's creatives have emerged as leading lights in Bollywood. From Lagaan director Ashutosh Gowarikar, who started off as a cop in CID, to Mahesh Manjrekar, Rajat Arora (The Dirty Picture dialogue writer) and actor Kay Kay Menon ' all have emerged from the rank and file of this undying crime series that has caught the imagination of a stunning range of audiences down the years.
It's uncanny, this magic that CID spins for Sony, especially when one knows how short a shelf life crime fiction shows have. In that context, one would not be surprised if CID were to ever become a subject of detailed research on strange longevity cases in television programming.
It is amazing that despite prime propeller ACP Pradyuman's frozen-in-time expression and that end-of-episode slap which has refused to take a break from even a single of the 808 chapters aired thus far, CID still continues to garner healthy TRPs.
This weekly fodder for audiences has been a stalwart which has withstood the test of time and all sorts of competitions. As many as 603 crime cases have taken away nothing from a show. In fact, they have only added more eyes to its fan base ' from adults and teenagers to even children aged four and five. A 10-year-old watches the show today with as much curiosity as a 70-year-old does.
Eleven-year-old Anjali Bisht is one. She has been hooked on to it ever since she was five. "I love the suspense. As a child, I used to be afraid seeing blood, but now the fear has disappeared as I even sit and watch the show alone sometimes," she tells you.
The CID clichs have become a trademark and its three main key characters household names. ACP Pradyuman, Daya and Abhijeet have stayed on and refuse to go. Undying refrains like "Tumhe to phansi hi hogi" may have become a butt of jokes but, it hasn't deterred the team from using them episode after episode after episode.
The key trip has ensured that the show goes on ' and come what may, it has. Dip in TRPs, rough patches, or braving pains and illnesses, the ACP and his two stalwarts have stood through all adversity, not leaving the show for 14 long years.
Shooting in the same Kamdhenu building in Malad, Mumbai, for a decade-and-a-half now, CID's machoman Daya aka Dayanand Shetty tells you how even a severely injured leg couldn't stop him from finishing a shoot as the episode was supposed to go on air in a couple of days. While performing a stunt, Daya fractured his leg in January 2011. Despite doctors asking him to give his leg some much needed rest, he shot for the episodes on crutches.
"The episode had to be tweaked a little. We showed that my leg was hurt while I was on duty, and hence the crutches," Daya recalls.
On his part, and jokes apart, Shivaji Satam aka ACP Pradyuman has lost track of the number of times he has shot through illness. Satam recalls how he recently suffered a vertigo attack on the sets but did not let the director halt the shoot despite being unstable and in lot of pain. "You have to push yourself to the limit. There is an extra commitment which we all display when it comes to shooting for CID," Satam says.
Apart from the Guinness and Limca Book of Records presence in its portfolio, the CID team has had many other milestones ' good and bad. In November 2004, they canned an entire episode of 111 minutes in one shot ' a first for any TV show ever. Titled The Inheritance, the episode was filmed in a bungalow in Lonavala.
It was about a hotelier who came down from South Africa to wind up his business in India and sort out his inheritance. All his relatives gathered at the hotel in the hope of getting a share of his property. Someone among them gets murdered and the owner summoned the CID team. Just when the CID team thought it has tracked the killer, two more murders take place. And the episode was shot with the intention of entering the records.
"It all started when I shot a 22-minute episode of my first Marathi show Ek Shunya Shunya in 1987. In 2002, I approached the Guinness monitors to check if it qualified for a listing. However, I was told that the shot needed to be at least 25 minutes long for it to get a place in the record book. It was then that I thought of going for a longer shot, something which has never been attempted by anyone anywhere in the world. I got to know about the 88-minute Russian documentary and decided to beat its record," BP Singh, producer/director, CID tells you.
Singh, the man behind this unending saga of thrill and mystery, adds that the journey has not been a bed of roses. "The show's ratings dipped in 2000 when KBC came in a big way. However, Sony trusted the show and persisted on airing it," Singh says.
Then, there was a lean period in 2007 when it garnered an annual rating of just 0.43 and was ranked 104th in the show list.
However, it was a brief lull and the show has been on an upward spiral ever since, growing from strength-to-strength. According to TAM, the show was ranked 67th in the category of top shows in 2008, but after that it broke into the Top 50 league, still maintaining that position.
"A few years back, the channel wasn't doing well and CID was also impacted. Even then, fan mails for CID kept flowing in," Sneha Rajani, senior EVP and Business Head, Sony Entertainment Television, says.
She stresses that every person has an inquisitive mind and loves solving mysteries. It is this inquisitiveness which has kept viewers glued to the show which recently entered its 15th year.
Launched on January 21, 1998, CID has gathered steam from a dedicated actors, scriptwriters and directors, as well as the viewers. CID started off as a weekly show which was aired for half an hour on Wednesdays. Initially, the story was split into two episodes and then on popular demand, the show was shifted to Fridays and converted into an hourly show in March 2006. From June, 2010, the show has started airing twice a week on Fridays and Saturdays.
Incessant shoots and same dialogues haven't hit the show or these showmen. "Do you get bored of life? Has Sachin Tendulkar got tired of batting for India?" questions Satam, adding: "I feel proud of the fact that I am a part of a show like this. I feel blessed to have two families. The CID team is an extension of my personality. Even when we are not shooting, we constantly stay in touch over the phone. Alongwith CID, I have done Marathi films, theatre and Hindi movies which have kept me going," he tells you adding that he has been friends with Singh for almost 30 years and has even worked with him for Ek Shunya Shunya. Sony's other shows like Surya: Super Cop andKhottey Sikkey could never shift viewer focus despite stronger storylines and gripping action. Perhaps, Indian viewers like it simple, as the industry insiders point out. They might like to watch dark movies in multiplexes, but when it comes to small screen, they'd stay away from a web of intrigues.
"The synonym for longevity should be CID," says Suman Mishra. The 30-year-old media professional, who confesses to being a diehard CID fan, squeezes time out of her busy schedule to watch the show without fail. "I have grown accustomed to watching ACP Pradyuman and his team solving cases, using sophisticated technology. It is a simple show which never leaves you confused. Also, you know that the culprit will be caught in the end so you are glued to the show for that one hour. Even though some of the cases in CID may not be in sync with reality, the stories have the potential of keeping you engrossed," Mishra says.
Consistency defines CID. Out-of the box forensic techniques and occasional light-hearted jokes interspersed in between have worked wonders. "It is one of the few detective-cum-police shows on screen. Since it is becoming older, it has a loyal viewer base which has grown accustomed to its cliche dialogues. A mix of some outlandish ways of solving cases, strange clues and the team of the old and reliable ACP Pradyuman with the younger lot has worked for the show," opines media critic Shailaja Bajpai.
Kay Kay Menon, who was a part of the historic 111-minutes single-shot episode also endorses Bajpai's views: "The actors who are a part of the show have been doing a good job. Aditya Srivastav, who plays the role of Inspector Abhijeet is a fine actor who hasn't got his due in Bollywood. But due to CID, he got his share of recognition."
After seeing him in a small role in film Satya, Singh approached Srivastav for the role of Abhijeet, another morally similar but younger variation of ACP Pradyuman. However, Srivastav's appointment was more out of compulsion to fill up someone's shoes than his talent. And that someone was Ashutosh Gowarikar, who left the position empty for making Lagaan. After Ashutosh quit, Singh and Shridhar Raghavan, CID's first script-writer who went on to write films like Dum Maaro Dum and Khakee, were having a drink at a bar in Goregaon, and while coming out saw Srivastav.
"Fresh out of the success of Satya, we shamelessly approached him. He was a bit bewildered at our aggressive persistence, but finally agreed to come on board CID for a few weeks. I told him whenever he wants to exit the show, I have an episode 'Cop Dies' ready. It's been more than 10 years now. I keep joking with Aditya that we haven't used that episode yet," Raghavan tells you. The 'Cop Dies' episode was written for the exit of Ashutosh but since the Lagaan director didn't want his character to die, Raghavan wrote another episode called 'Cop Resigns'.
Srivastav, on his part, has had a great journey. "CID is like a second family. More than half the time is spent on the sets. Each day is spent cracking jokes, running and jumping around the sets," he tells you.
Unlike reality crime series like Crime Patrol, CID steers away from touching upon sensitive and current issues. "We have a team of eight writers who brainstorm on different ideas and locations. Since eight different minds are working on the show, there are few chances of repetition. When we started off, we had a core team of three writers ' Rajat Arora, and brothers Sriram and Shridhar Raghavan. Once they moved to films, we brought in new people. Since we now air twice a week, we need a larger turnover of stories and a huge team of writers to retain the freshness," Christabelle D'Souza, creative and scripting head, CID tells you.
D'Souza has had a 13-year-long association with the thriller and says that they try to stay away from depicting sexual offences, crimes against children and pregnant women. "When CID started, the target audience were not children. Our audience profile was basically limited to teenagers and adults. But when we discovered that even children have become loyal viewers, we were very conscious about not glorifying crime and showing horrific visuals of blood and gore. We have also never showed that a crime has been committed by a Catholic, Hindu or a Muslim. All crimes are committed by Indians. This is why we haven't even told the viewers the surnames of the cops," she reveals.
The TV industry has been riddled by changes. There was an era when saas-bahu shows ruled the roost and female protagonists called the shots. Despite the absence of a strong woman character,CID has dominated the airwaves. Shows like Kyunkii Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki, Kasauti Zindagi Kay and Kumkum ran for close to eight years, but went off air when the audience lost track of the generation leaps, numerous vamps and marriages. But with CID, all the actors have been shown dead at least once and have always come back to find the viewers wanting them more than ever.
After running for eight years and completing 1,830 episodes, Kyunkii... bid adieu to TV in 2008. Reason was the sagging TRPs and the stiff competition arising from new shows. The show was taken off air after a Bombay High Court order. Balaji Telefilms had sought legal remedy after Star Group had terminated sourcing and telecasting the eight-year-old soap on Star Plus. Kahaani... ran for close to 1,700 episodes, but when the viewers lost track of the countless times Sakshi Tanwar and Kiran Karmarkar had died and come back on the show, Ekta Kapoor had no choice but to take the show off air, replacing it with Tujh Sang Preet Lagayi which sank without a trace. Even Kumkum, which completed 1,450 episodes was taken off air in 2009 after the reincarnation track featuring Juhi Parmar and Hussain Kuwajerwala aka Sumit failed to excite the viewers.Kumkum was a surprise package since it was not a Balaji show and still reigned over the afternoon slot for seven years ' from 2002 to 2009.
Rajan Shahi, who takes the credit for shows like Bidaai and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, is well-versed with the industry dynamics and knows how to sustain a show for a long time. With Yeh Rishtaa Kya Kehlaata Hai completing 851 episodes in three years and Bidaai concluding with 739 episodes, Shahi lauds CID for what it is. "It is one of the major landmarks for a show. Sustaining the success of a show, that too a crime thriller, for 15 years demands immense innovation and dedication. The whole credit for this goes to Singh. In a daily soap, you have a set pattern of storytelling and even if the permutations and combinations happen in a daily soap, they happen on a set format. One of the toughest challenges in the case of a crime thriller is to reinvent yourself in terms of locations, storytelling and the way the crimes are solved. It is extremely commendable that CID has stood the test of time even while saas-bahu sagas have faded away to make way for shows in rural settings, which also diminished giving way to mature love stories. Even this trend will go away in sometime and something new will come up. But CID will still reign supreme," he concludes.
The BP syndrome
Fifteen years back, when BP Singh thought of bringing CID to TV, he had no idea that the show would go on to rewrite history. The opinion is unanimous: Singh has been the pillar of the show's success. Shridhar Raghavan, who was CID's first writer, reveals some interesting facets of Singh's personality.
"BP had a unmatched, crazy dynamic way of shooting. He would just grab the camera and rush in anywhere, shoot and get out," he says. Perhaps, Singh's background as a documentary cameraman came into use. He has shot action and chase sequences during visarjans, on the highway, in and out of local trains and platforms, on every street from town to New Mumbai.
Bollywood actor Kay Kay Menon, who was a part of the marathon 111-minute episode agrees: "Any piece of art, be it cinema or TV cannot sustain itself if the person associated with it doesn't have a good intention. It is the posterity of BP which has sustained the show for 14 years."
However, the FTII alumnus humbly credits the show's success to writers who have delivered gripping stories week after week. It is BP's humility which has bowled over Shivaji Satam who has been friends with him for 30 years.
"The biggest reason for CID's success is BP's vision. He has been the cameraman, director, producer and my best friend. The grip he has on the genre and his presentation style are unique. Right from the seniormost to the juniormost, he treats them as his babies," Satam says.
BP is also endowed with an eye for talent and is known for taking risks. He roped in Rajan Waghdare as one of the directors even though the latter had only directed popular comic shows like Shriman Shrimati and Yes Boss.
"I have been Singh's fan since the days of Ek Shunya Shunya. Apart from being a great producer and director, he is a great man. He trusted me when I was only known for comedies," Waghdhare recalls. Though Singh now directs only an occasional episode of CID, he is there on the phone with the creatives and directors, discussing various aspects about camera angles and storylines.
The 62-year-old, who was born in Dehra Dun, is currently working on the silent comedy Gutur Guon SAB and Shapath on Life Ok channel.
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