Kanoon (1960)

9 years before he made the superb suspense thriller Ittefaq, B R Chopra produced and directed this film. It too starred Nanda (though not in as pivotal a role as in Ittefaq). It too didn’t have a single song—though it did have a ballet performance. And, like Ittefaq, it hinged on a murder.
But Kanoon wasn’t by any means a precursor to Ittefaq. Ittefaq is mainstream murder mystery; Kanoon straddles with consummate skill the line between crime detection and social issues. It’s an excellent, unusual and gripping film that merits viewing.

Kanoon begins with a bang, literally—the bang as a crook called Ganpat is shot dead. Ganpat’s killer is the ex-convict Kalidas (Jeevan, in a brilliantly acted though very brief role). Kalidas has just emerged from jail after serving 10 years, and is soon re-arrested.
When his case comes up for hearing in the sessions court, presided over by the judge Badri Prasad (Ashok Kumar), Kalidas springs a surprise. No court can sentence him, he says: he has just served 10 years for the murder of Ganpat.

Kalidas follows this up with an impassioned diatribe against the fickleness of Indian justice. When he had been sentenced 10 years ago, Kalidas had gone to prison pleading his innocence, but no-one had listened. 10 years of his life have been snatched away because the judicial system was flawed. His wife (Leela Chitnis in the briefest of cameos; only one frame is devoted to her silent, sorrowful face) is now old before her time. He himself is weak and worn—so worn, in fact, that at the end of his speech, he collapses and dies.

Later that day, Badri Prasad is in his chambers, chatting with two colleagues, the judges Jha (Moolchand Dewan Sharar) and Savarkar (Iftekhar). As would be expected, the conversation centres round the strange case of Kalidas. Savarkar and Badri Prasad are disturbed by it and realise that justice must be tempered. Taking the matter to its conclusion, both Savarkar and Badri Prasad say that capital punishment should be abolished.

The conversation meanders on, till the point where Jha challenges Badri Prasad to try and commit a murder and not be caught out. Badri Prasad laughingly takes up the challenge. All a joke, of course.

Next, we are introduced to the Public Prosecutor, Kailash (Rajendra Kumar). Kailash has been brought up and educated by Badri Prasad, and thinks of the judge almost as his father.
Kailash is getting ready for an evening out with his girl friend Meena (Nanda), who is Badri Prasad’s daughter. Meena has been urging Kailash to speak to her father about their getting married, but Kailash is waiting for the right moment.

That evening, Kailash, Meena and Badri Prasad are to go to the theatre, but Badri Prasad backs out, pleading fatigue. Kailash and Meena go off together, and are so absorbed in the performance, they don’t see what’s happening in the box up above. Badri Prasad, in dark overcoat, hat, and white gloves, seems to be getting very cosy with a glamorous woman (Shashikala).

The next we see of this woman is at the house of the moneylender Dhani Ram (Om Prakash). From their conversation, it’s obvious that there’s no love lost between the two. He accuses her of bigamy—she had married another man while her first husband was still alive. And now that both husbands are dead, she’s going around with someone new—a wealthy and well-respected someone. Badri Prasad, obviously.

If this femme fatale is not exactly doodh mein dhuli (literally ‘washed in milk’, for those who don’t understand Hindi; an idiom to indicate extreme virtue), neither is Dhani Ram. He’s been milking her for all he’s worth, blackmailing her and getting out lots of money over the years. And he doesn’t intend to stop, though the woman threatens him with vile consequences.

With the woman gone, Dhani Ram receives another visitor: Badri Prasad’s son, Vijay (Mehmood). Vijay is the proverbial playboy: his days and nights are spent in clubbing, chasing girls and generally enjoying life to the hilt. That, of course, takes more money than Vijay can wheedle out of his father, so he’s had to borrow money from Dhani Ram. Rs 4,000—plus Rs 3,000 interest (yes, Dhani Ram’s a past master at the art of usury). Now, Dhani Ram’s demanding the Rs 7,000 that Vijay owes him.

And Vijay, duffer that he is, had long ago signed his name on a blank piece of paper and handed it over to Dhani Ram. Theoretically, Dhani Ram can do just about what he pleases with that piece of paper—and Vijay, in hindsight, realises that he’s been a bit of an idiot. He goes rushing off to little sister Meena and begs her to do something.

Meena in turn goes to Kailash and spills the whole sordid story to him. Kailash promises to go that very night to talk to Dhani Ram. The problem is, Kailash has to go for a Bar Association dinner, so he’ll get free only after 11 PM. Never mind; even though he’ll be a little late, he’ll go meet Dhani Ram.
So, around 11.30 that night, Kailash goes to Dhani Ram’s house. Dhani Ram, about to have a glass of milk, leaves the milk on the table and opens the door to Kailash.

Kailash, by dint of being the Public Prosecutor, manages to put the fear of the law into Dhani Ram. The moneylender finally consents to hand over the paper on which Vijay had left his signature. He goes to the safe to fetch the paper, while Kailash wanders over to the window—and looks down to see Badri Prasad approaching the house.
This is odd. Why should Badri Prasad be coming to Dhani Ram’s house? Kailash guesses Meena might have told him about Vijay’s stupidity, but it seems unlikely.

At any rate, Kailash doesn’t want to be seen by his future father-in-law (not to mention the man who’s been in loco parentis to him all these years) in Dhani Ram’s house. So he slips into the adjoining room while Dhani Ram opens the front door.
Kailash hears Dhani Ram exclaim “Judge Sahib!”—and even before he’s finished asking why Badri Prasad has come, Badri Prasad slams a dagger into Dhani Ram’s stomach, killing the moneylender.

Leaving the body on the floor, Badri Prasad turns off the lights in the room and goes out the door. Kailash, emerging from the room in which he’d hidden, panics and runs away from the scene of crime. And a few minutes later, a petty thief called Kalia (Nana Palsikar, in a role that won him the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actor) sees the open window in Dhani Ram’s house and shins up a pipe to commit what he thinks will be an easy burglary.

Only, he ends up even worse than Kailash. Because an unsuspecting Kalia, in the dark, steps into the puddle of milk that Dhani Ram’s falling body had created when it knocked over the glass standing on the table. Kalia slips in the milk and ends up face down on Dhani Ram’s body, his hands scrabbling for purchase on the hilt of the dagger.
Terrified, Kalia slides down the pipe, and finds himself, red-handed, in the hands of the patrolling police constable and Sub Inspector Das (Jagdish Raj), who immediately arrest him.

Kalia, pleading his innocence before SI Das, is unable to convince the cop. Kalia’s hands were bloody; his fingerprints were on the dagger; his footprints were in the spilt milk; and he was caught fleeing from the scene of crime. How can he not be guilty?

Kailash, as Public Prosecutor, now has to prosecute Kalia for a murder he knows Kalia did not commit. Where does Kailash’s duty lie? With the man who brought him up, and to whom he owes everything? Or to justice? As Kailash, driven by his own conscience, resigns as Public Prosecutor and takes it upon himself to defend Kalia—in a case, coincidentally, that comes up for hearing before Badri Prasad—the story unfolds. The prosecutor, now a Mr Khanna (Manmohan Krishna), brings forth evidences that seemingly irrefutably prove Kalia’s guilt.

And Kailash now has to battle both the piling evidence against Kalia, plus the fact that Badri Prasad—sitting unashamedly under the ‘Satyameva jayate’ (“truth must prevail”) banner of the courts, will not come forth to admit his own guilt. What’s worse, Kailash dare not admit to anyone the awful fact that only he has been witness to. Not even Meena, who has discovered that Kailash was in Dhani Ram’s house that fateful night, and has begun to suspect that Kailash himself is the murderer…

What I liked about this film:

The fact that it isn’t just a straightforward film of a murder; it has many layers and many facets. There is the dilemma and the psychological turmoil of Kailash, caught between his emotional ties to Badri Prasad and Meena on the one hand, and his conscience on the other. There are other considerations too: Meena’s, for instance, who is convinced that the man she loves is a murderer, and whom she will now do anything—even if it’s against the law—to save him. There is Kalia, pushed into a life of thievery because he is too poor to even educate his only son, for whom he lives.

And against these individual dilemmas are the greater ones that affect society: what is justice? A life for a life? (As a character says in a highly charged speech towards the end of the film, “A life for a life is not justice; it is revenge.”) What is justice based on? The testimonies of witnesses who are swayed by their emotions—their love or hate for the man in the dock—and by what they may gain or lose by the verdict? And is that justice to be left in the hands of a judge and a jury, who are after all fallible? Kanoon makes some interesting points that make one think beyond the mere plot of the film.

The use of silences. I am a firm believer in the ‘actions speak louder than words’ dictum, and Kanoon has some excellent examples of it. There is, for instance, the scene where Meena and Kailash go out to a restaurant. Kailash is worrying over the case, and Meena is scared and unhappy because she thinks Kailash is the murderer, even though she hasn’t asked him that in so many words. Kailash starts absent-mindedly playing with the dinner knife in front of him. Meena watches him, her expression growing steadily more disturbed, until she finally snatches the knife away from him. A symbolic act of taking away the dagger with which he—as she thinks—have killed Dhani Ram?

Which brings me to one more thing: the acting. It’s uniformly good. The only member of the cast to have won an award was Nana Palsikar, but the others, especially Ashok Kumar and Rajendra Kumar—are also excellent.

What I didn’t like:

Some of the scenes and the dialogues in the court made me wince. I don’t claim to be an expert on what goes on in courtrooms, but there are elements here—certain speeches, dramatic acts, etc—that seem either downright stupid or farfetched in a court of law.

But for a film that’s otherwise a very absorbing, interesting work, that’s forgivable.

48 thoughts on “Kanoon (1960)

  1. Super write up on a real classic DO.

    Br got the best out of every1, and let me share some info on g8 performer Manmohan Krishna, in case some are not aware of it, this guy had sung one of my fav songs, it has so much meaning in it and it is found on YouTube.

    It is called Zindahi Hai yo yo sung on another super actor Premnath from film Aaram, check it out folks yu will love it.
    Composed by Anilda and lyrics, ofcors Rajendra Krishan Saheb.
    The link is-

    Movie starred in and as –

    Dev Anand … Shyam

    Madhubala … Leela
    Talat Mahmood … Talat
    Prem Nath … Kumar
    Durga Khote … Sita
    Manmohan Krishna … Chamanlal
    Ramayan Tiwari … Ramnath (as Tiwari)
    Hiralal … Bhagwan
    Tabassum … Baby

    Note the third name DO, Talat Saheb .)

    If any1 knows if this movie is avail in any format, pls share the info. Thx a lot.

    Cheers .)


  2. Pardon me I am back DO, look closely in the Zindagi Hai Yo Yo file and yu will see a very very young Jagdeep, am 99.9 per cent sure it is him, must be what 14-15 yrs old ???


  3. I have good memories of Kanoon! It was a great film against the capital punishment. That was the the driving force behind the movie, he told in the interview, which was broadcast just before it was shown on DD.
    The end though left quite a bland taste behind!
    I have always been an admirer of Nana Palsikar. He has been criminally underused in the Hindi film industry.
    These types of roles and films, in which I like Rajendra Kumar!


  4. ash: Thank you for that link! I loved it, so good to see Manmohan Krishna singing. And Jagdeep looks so cute, so bright and cheery. I guess this is one of the earliest appearances of his that I’ve seen – the only film that I’ve seen him acting in as a child though is Do Bigha Zameen, in 1953, two years after Aaram was made (if imdb is to be believed). I guess he was a little younger than 14-15 here, since in Do Bigha Zameen, he’s around 12 or 13, I think… but what I like is that that trademark grin didn’t change over many, many years! :-)

    harvey: Yes, the end is rather contrived – but otherwise, generally speaking a good film. And I agree with you completely re: Rajendra Kumar. I’m not a Rajendra Kumar fan, but this is one in which I liked him a lot. He should have done more of these type of roles, rather than stuff like Ganwaar or Geet or even that tear-jerker Dil Ek Mandir.


  5. Ganwar = Gun war. An old joke between a friend and me!

    I loved him in Dil ek mandir, I liked even Raj Kumar in it, at times even Meena Kumari was more subdued in that film. At tleast in my memory it is saved in this form. ;-)

    BTW Jagdeep is to be seen in Aar Paar as well. He is in his adolscent years in that movie.


  6. Yeah when yu mentioned it Harvey, we had lil Jagdeep sleeping on a pavement right ?, cute fella, and we were neighbors, briefly in 1999/2000, nice gentlemen, loved his pinta .)

    And his TM grin… still there .)

    And yu must catch him in a serious role, he played the main role, in case not seen already in BARKHA from 1959, plays bro of Nanda and blve me, he was excellent in this serious acting also.

    And above all the super jodi of Chitragupt and Rajendra Krishan again for songs.

    I will be honest, if the songs are good, I can tolerate any1 .) And Rajendra ‘Jubilee’ Kumar did have a load of goody tracks for years together.

    Cheers .)


  7. harvey: I would gladly take a gun to Ganwar! I can’t bear that film, or even Geet. Dil Apna Aur Preet Parayi is, as a film, good – but I find the end terribly morbid. And the general rona-dhona in that film gets to me. It’s just too sad.

    ash: And Jagdeep plays Nanda’s love interest in Bhabhi!

    By the way, the only reason I’d see most of Rajendra Kumar’s films are because of the music – usually superb. Though, even other than Kanoon (which only has a background score by Salil Choudhary to recommend it), there are some films in which I like Rajendra Kumar – most notably Mere Mehboob and Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan. Both enjoyable films, and with fabulous songs.


  8. This is indeed a great film.
    It was this film that made me like Rajender Kumar forever. So much so that I can’t dislike him in any film now.

    Yes, the ending was quite flat.

    In Dil Apna aur Preet Parayi Meena kumari cries only once.
    She sings a sad song once – the lovely title song.
    The fabulous evergreen song ‘ajeeb dastaan hai yeh’ she just has tears welling up and at one point rolling down which she wipes surreptitiuosly away.
    All in all only once it was really crying – after all the man she loved was married to another. :-D LOL!


  9. Oh sry.. harveypam.. pamharvey .)…..
    pinta.. dats ma daily pints of beer n related drinks .).)

    If I may add pls.. Jhuk Gaya AAsman.. u love songs, then go for it.. super tracks all the way.

    Cheers .)


  10. Tru tru DO… quite a lot of Rajendra Bhais movies were tear jerkers but I usually sleep thru and then wake up when the songs come on… like also
    Aas Ka Panchi
    Dil Ek Mandir.. take a dozen hankies with yu when yu watch this….

    The early 60’s b/w had array of veterans along with RK, folks like Mehmood, Shobha Khote, Dhumal,ETC.. so the movie lightened up, esp the Southie Banners.

    Cheers .)


  11. Hi Madhulika,
    I have seen this film twice and found myself enmeshed in the web that is spun by Br Chopra so meticulously. The second time I watched it with two of my relatives who do not share my fondness for such films, hence, they thought the end was too sudden and forced. I had to explain to them that it is not so. And, then I decided that these films are best enjoyed with people who understand good crime thrillers. This is a superb taut film from the Chopra stable and you have summed it wonderfully. I think Ashok Kumar excelled in such roles !! And Nanda was so pretty!


  12. This one has been in my to-watch list forever – but somehow I always forget to bring it on when I am trying to decide what to watch! Thanks so much for the reminder – I need to get to this very soon.


  13. i had reviewed this in my early days of blogging and i was blown away by the href=”http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_YQSZcpg4rHg/Sdoet9FHD3I/AAAAAAAABFk/cGlbOxpQ21I/s1600-h/Slide20.JPG”>Indian and Russian dance sequence , so beautiful, plus everyone just looked so stylish and Gorgeous with ref=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_YQSZcpg4rHg/SdoehSdgeaI/AAAAAAAABE8/BKpQXgYdM1s/s1600-h/Mehmood.JPG”> Mehmood in his cute haircuts and bowties and href=”http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_YQSZcpg4rHg/SdoW1dSc-6I/AAAAAAAABEE/VGyfvmAZQbA/s1600-h/Rajendra+kumar.JPG”> Rajendra kumar in his hats .

    I agree with your points, its a good film though when i look aback on it now i think i would have critiqued it a lot further as there wee some sloppily handled scenes which as been pointed out at this post on wikipedia but still not to nit pick, the major theme and what it stood for makes it a great film


  14. I saw this film accidentally…since it has no songs, I hadn’t heard of it before. 2 years back, I came back home late from work one Friday night…it was past 11 pm. I put the tv on, served dinner and sat down. Zee Classic was showing this movie. My brother and nephew were just going to sleep then, but they witnessed the movie begin with a murder and that intrigued them into watching the whole thing. All 3 of us sat and watched the whole movie and I really liked it then. Every one had acted so well and the story itself was good – different from the then prevailing love tales. I really liked the part where Jha challenges Badri Prasad and he even maintains a diary about it, right? And Kailash later on comes across it. Lots of issues were adrressed in this movie. But my nephew didn’t like the movie much….he is still not able to comprehend why Om Prakash’s character was killed. Even today, when we talk about the film or he sees me watching any black-n-white movie, he keeps worrying me asking – But why? Why did Om Prakash have to die in that film? ;-)

    I am pretty fond of Rajendra Kumar. Really liked him Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan…that’s one movie of his that I can go on watching and re-watching. What fabulous songs it has!


  15. harvey: Yes, I do like Jhuk Gaya Aasmaan. Other than the fact that it has good music (the title song is superb, plus there’s the very good Unse mili nazar toh mere hosh ud gaye). Watch it, once again!

    pacifist: Sorry, sorry. A typo, there. *blushing* – I meant to write Dil ek Mandir, not Dil Apna aur Preet Parayi, since the former was the one that starred Rajendra Kumar along with Raj Kumar and Meena Kumari. Not that I remember Dil Apna aur Preet Parayi too well: Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh is a mind-blowingly fabulous song, but other than that, I remember only the rudiments of the story. Dil ek Mandir was relatively more weepy.

    ash: Of the ones you’ve listed, the only Rajendra Kumar films I’ve seen are Suraj and Gharana, neither of which is among my favourites! But will certainly look out for the others. Aas ka Panchhi I’ve long wanted to see for its title song. :-)

    Sharmi: I didn’t think the end was sudden, just a little forced. Spoiler ahead: And if one takes into account what Dhani Ram had told the Shashikala character about her new lover being a wealthy and well-respected man, it seems a little odd that no-one had ever noticed the similarity between him and Badri Prasad, especially as Badri Prasad’s photo is splashed across the newspapers when Kailash accuses him…Spoiler ends.
    Still, I definitely rate Kanoon as one of the best crime films of the golden years!

    aravishiva: Thank you! Will think over that offer.

    bollywoodeewaana: Yes, that ballet was superb, wasn’t it? The combination of Western and Indian dance fitted beautifully together.
    The wikipedia article is a surprisingly good and detailed one for a Hindi film – most are usually pretty perfunctory. Some of those points that are listed as discrepancies occurred to me too, but I didn’t put them in because they’d be spoilers – but anyway, I still like the film!

    sunheriyaadein: That’s an interesting anecdote! How old was your nephew? And have you been able to give him an answer? :-)


  16. My nephew is 20….he likes pulling my leg coz he doesn’t get to watch tv, if there’s some old film coming on tv, the remote control’s usually with me. No…I haven’t been able to come up with a plausible answer to that…at least not yet. ;-)
    May be if I see the film again, I will be able to do that :-)


  17. Unlike Itefaaq which I found very stagey and OTT, I thoroughly enjoyed Kanoon. The movie is a wee bit too long and the ending rather tame, but it still does a masterful job of building and maintaining suspense.


  18. sunheriyaadein: Nephews are all the same! I have one who’s only 13, but excels in pulling my leg and driving me up the wall! ;-)

    memsaab: I think you’d like this! B R Chopra is invariably entertaining.

    Shalini: Oh, I liked Ittefaq too, but in a different way – it’s much more ‘commercial’ suspense, if you know what I mean. Yes, stagey I guess, but still enjoyable. Kanoon (except for the end) is I think more easy to relate to, as far as the characters etc are concerned. And of course there’s the underlying message, which is pretty hard-hitting too.


  19. Saw Kanoon again and better understood the ending which now I see as a major support for the view the film was propogating about doing away with capital punishment.


    The very idea of having a person who looked like Badri Prased was to emphasize that even the best of eye witnesses may not know or see all.
    The audience too had marked Ashok Kumar as the murderer after all they too had winessed everything…and more than even Rajender Kumar.

    *end spoiler*

    So IMO the ending had nothing to do with the suspense, because that wasn’t the idea of the film at all, even if it succeeded impressively in that direction. All along the idea was to show that giving capital punishment on the basis of 100% sure witnesses could still lead to punishing an innocent person.

    I’m so impressed with this film now, much much more than before :)


      • In fact I now see this ending as a master stroke to get the point across that nothing could be more than 100% proof of the facts of the case, and who the murderer was as seen, and yet………!!!!

        I’m quite taken up with this ;)


          • No problem! This morning, my husband was chatting with me and asked me if I had received any interesting comments on any posts, and I told him about what you said, and what a lot of sense it made. :-) That is such a good insight into the film!


            • Just happened to see this movie yesterday (had seen it long ago but completely forgotten it).

              Pacifist is spot on. This is not so much a whodunit as a cry against capital punishment.

              The movie seeks to stress that (a) the court is hung up on evidence and witnesses (b) anybody can make a mistake in the evidence-garnering process (even what you think you see may not be the truth!). Not to mention intentional misleading of the jury for various reasons. All this makes the evidence provided, potentially dodgy.

              But crucially, as a result of this evidence, an innocent may get convicted!!! And, if there’s capital punishment, there’s no way the justice system can undo it.

              As one line says “If the court cannot give life to a person, it has no right to take it from him”.

              So THAT, to me, is the essence of the film. Ittefaq is very different – it is a proper whodunit.


              • Yes, Ittefaq is in a very different league from Kanoon (though I still feel Kanoon has its share of the whodunnit). Ittefaq restricts itself to the crime and its solution, while Kanoon turns around and goes back to the premise which it starts with – whether or not capital punishment is justified.


  20. I was very taken with this film when I watched it so many years ago (which means it’s time to revisit it). I think the film was more a plea against circumstantial evidence (especially the so-called ‘eye-witness’ evidence) than against capital punishment? (Could be wrong, it’s been a long time since I last watched it, but I have this faint recollection of Ashok Kumar saying something to that effect.)


  21. I just watched the movie on YouTube. Poof, it was cool! Very cool! And I might be able to excuse the lack of songs. :P But next I need to watch a movie with one good song after the other. And the ending came as a shock to me. And heck, Rajendra was so dramatic. Breaking glasses in a court? o_o” But he gave a great performance! I love the part where he was tapping the ground with his foot. He’s cool.

    Although at the start of the film, after the murder, well, HOW MANY CIGARETTES DID RAJENDRA HAVE? O_O Fine, fine, witnessing a murder is terrible, but… 30 cigarettes in one night?! Ahem? Take some sleeping pills if you need to, but 30? That’s just being excessive! Not to mention very bad for health. But anyway. Poor everyone who got caught in this case. And Rajendra even got punched. -giggle- The drama about the fingerprints was cool though.

    I think the ending was kind of… meh. It was shocking, but wheeling a dead lookalike into the court is just too convienient. And Rajendra’s car was gone. -laughs- This is what you get for leaving the keys in the car.


    • Glad you liked it. I thought songs would’ve diluted the tension in the film, so it was best off without any songs. (Just as Ittefaq – also without songs – would’ve been terrible if it had been interrupted by songs). The ending was too convenient for me, too, but then (as someone pointed out in the comments) the ‘whodunit’ aspect of the film is not as important as the fact that an innocent man may have been executed for a crime he never committed. The film is actually more against capital punishment than a suspense film.


      • Yeah, I guess you’re right. But I’m not going to go near Ittefaq anytime soon! Oh no, I need a bunch of films with songs first. I suppose the capital punishment theme was cool – I used to wonder about it when I was a kid too. What if an innocent person was killed? At the end when Ashok Kumar gives a speech about how the law shouldn’t snatch something it can’t return, especially not someone’s life, then shouldn’t all penalties be abolished? Jail sentences too should be removed, shouldn’t they? Like what happened with Kalidas? Then again, if there are no jails, then people will just go commit crimes and stuff. I think there needs to be a balance between the two.

        But the film was very well-illustrated. Kaalia was going to be executed for a crime that he didn’t commit, and if Rajendra wasn’t there, well, then… Same goes for Badri Prasad. The issue was pretty well handled.

        But breaking glasses in a court is… -giggle-


  22. i watched this movie long ago. i read B.R.Chopra made this movie after he listened at some international film festival that Indian movies are just about dancing and singing. then he became determined to change this perception. i love this movie minus court room drama which is almost over the top. i wonder when jeevan character says mai eskey suhaag ki jvaa raaton ko maangta hu judge saheb. it was important to say this and in this manner. the dialogues are most in urdu its an urdu film . i didn’t like expressions and over the top dialogues delivery by ashok kumar and tash tash sound after every dialogue. one can relate to Rajender kumar and nanda’s character. Rajender kumar’s expression of helplessness, dilemma as well as relief when the culprit is not found badri prsad . i also like shobha khotey expression and delivery of dialogues when she introduces dance mix of indian and ballet. like mohbhat ki ndaaniyo sey toh hum sabhi waakif hain. i like her short and sweet role. i was really shocked when i saw ashok kumar watching dance with shashikala. even if badri prsad was not the culprit but he did had an affair.


  23. Glad you reviewed this film, one of my all time favourites, more so as it was quite different from most films that time. Courtroom drama, dilemmas and no songs. I saw bits of it long ago as a kid, perhaps as part of some feature on one of the actors. Saw the entire movie much later and loved it allover again.

    Ashok Kumar’s debate about life, justice, murder; Rajendra Kumar’s predicament about going against his mentor and strongly believing in what he saw – Kaano suni, aankho dekhi baat jhooth nahi ho sakti; Nanda torn between being an honest witness and a loyal daughter, all played out well.

    When Ashok Kumar asks Rajendra Kumar to testify under oath and is left with no choice and then the reveal are memorable moments for me. Nana Palsikar’s turn as the petty thief, Mehmood’s grey shades, helplessness of poor and powerful, all made for a gripping watch.

    The ambivalence of ethics, laws, morals formed the central theme for me, as many have said earlier, not the whodunit.


    • Yes, Kanoon is such a refreshing change from the usual Hindi film, isn’t it? I have a lot of respect for film makers who have the courage to go against the norm and not follow all the formulas. Somehow, in a film on such a serious topic (which it is – life and death, and the horrifying way in which capital punishment can put an end to an innocent life)… it seems so idiotic to break it up with songs. Yes, some films manage to weave the songs in very well even when the subject matter is serious, but this one was right just the way it was.

      Talking of songless films, another favourite of mine is Ittefaq.


  24. i have seen people not loving Rajendar kumar ji . my first memory of him was sangam. i felt by his looks watching another dilip kumar. me and my mother always said that he was a gentleman and was liked by heroines from aasha sharmila . and i think he was extremely comfortable with sadhna ji. i will choose sunil dutt over him with sadhna ji.


  25. The other occasion where silence was very effectively employed, was in the court room, where Kailash challenges the real murderer (Badri Prasad, the presiding judge, in his opinion), to reveal himself, and gives him five minutes, or some such amount of time. For the next five minutes, the camera switches to various people in the court room, no one saying any thing, the utter silence only intruded upon by the ticking of the court room clock.


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