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The Top Ten Bollywood Murder Mysteries

Last updated on: November 28, 2012 12:36 IST

The Top Ten Bollywood Murder Mysteries

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Raja Sen in Mumbai
We don't make enough murder mysteries, really.

It's an old grouse of mine and one I'm hoping will be somewhat assuaged by Reema Kagti's Talaash, releasing this Friday.

And whether it gets it right or Kareena Kapoor plays a butler who did it, here's a look at the Hindi films that have best gotten away with murder:

Teesri Manzil

Vijay Anand's delightfully racy mystery is about a beautiful woman, her dead sister, and a nightclub drummer who happens to be her primary suspect.

He also happens to be Shammi Kapoor, at his best in this brilliantly plotted tale of love, lies and revenge. As cool as our mystery movies have ever gotten, frankly.

Image: Movie poster of Teesri Manzil


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CID

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A newspaper editor is murdered, and a CID inspector is given the case, one chock-full of intrigue.

With Dev Anand channelling Sam Spade and Waheeda Rehman making an explosive debut as a femme fatale, this Raj Khosla film is one hardboiled Hindi noir that can rub shoulders with the best of Bogart.

Image: A scene from CID


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Gumnaam

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And then there was fun.

Based on the mystery cliche that came from Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians, this Raja Nawathe film was about 8 rather freakish people trapped on an island, being bumped off one by one.

Manoj Kumar and Nanda were the big stars, but Mehmood and Helen were the ones stealing their thunder.

Image: A scene from Gumnaam


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Khamosh

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Vidhu Vinod Chopra's thrilling first feature was packed to the gills with a truly sensational ensemble cast, including Naseeruddin Shah, Amol Palekar, Shabana Azmi, Pankaj Kapoor, Soni Razdan and more.

A simply plotted film peopled with fascinating characters, this ticks every murder-mystery box off with elegant style, while smartly saluting greats before it.

Image: A scene from Khamosh


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Kab? Kyoon? Aur Kahan?

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Dharmendra plays the CID investigator in this highly enjoyable Arjun Hingorani romp.

A wealthy heiress, played by Babita, loses her father unnaturally (naturally) and then appears to be losing her mind as the wonderfully titled film drags her through much surreality.

Nothing, we soon realise, is as it appears to be.

Image: A scene from Kab Kyoon Aur Kahan


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Kaun?

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Back in the nineties, nobody quite turned the thrills on like Ram Gopal Varma.

This film saw his twisted take on suburban life, with a woman alone at home on a rainy day with just the television for company.

It informs her that there's a serial killer on the loose, after which the doorbell rings. The way RGV relentlessly lays on the tension makes it a highly effective watch.

Image: A scene from Kaun


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Woh Kaun Thi?

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A doctor stops his car for a spooky woman hitchhiking on a stormy night.

Later, the doctor (played by Manoj Kumar) sees the same woman (Sadhana) or versions of her in his life.

It could be just another horror film but in the hands of the masterful Raj Khosla, it turns out to be a beautifully handled tale of genuine intrigue.

Image: A scene from Woh Kaun Thi


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Manorama Six Feet Under

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In director Navdeep Singh's retelling of Roman Polanski's Chinatown, he goes to smalltown Rajasthan where his hero happens to be a novelist who writes about gumshoes.

A loyal thriller cleverly transposed into a whole different (but equally relevant) heartland, this one features Abhay Deol, Sarika, Vinay Pathak and Gul Panag, each in top form.

Image: A scene from Manorama Six Feet Under


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Hatya

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Sure, murder-mysteries shouldn't ideally have disco dancing and manipulative child-based kerchief-soaking, but this was the 80s, so all's forgiven.

Kirti Kumar directed his brother Govinda alongside Neelam in this undeniably effective thriller about a deaf and dumb child witnessing a murder -- a fact the murderers are aware of.

Image: A scene from Hatya


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Khoj

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Sue me, but I really wanted to throw a Keshu Ramsay film onto this list.

A total ripoff of Chase A Crooked Shadow, Khoj is about a man who can't convince anyone that the woman calling himself his wife isn't really his wife.

Hinging on a decidedly strong final-act twist, this one doesn't boast of fine filmmaking but is rendered solid by a great performance from Rishi Kapoor in the lead role and Danny Dengzonpa and Naseeruddin Shah in smartly cast character roles.

Image: Movie poster of Khoj


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