7.7/10
233
6 user 1 critic

Kanoon (1960)

| Drama, Crime, Mystery
A lawyer holds the eyewitness evidence to catch a killer, but the identified criminal is the lawyer's own mentor, prospective father-in-law, and also the judge who presides over the case.

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2 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Advocate Kailash Khanna
...
Judge Badri Prasad
...
Meena Prasad
...
Kaalia
Manmohan Krishna ...
Prosecuting Attorney
...
Vijay Prasad
...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Moolchand ...
Advocate
...
Sub-Inspector Das
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Storyline

A young lawyer accidentally witnesses his prospective father-in-law, a respected judge, murdering a moneylender. A burglar who stumbles across the body is then arrested for the murder and is put on trial before the judge's court, leaving the lawyer with a moral dilemma. Thus giving rise to more burden on the story and a series of events to unfold the future. Written by gavin@sunny_deol2009@yahoo.com

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India's second no-song talkie. See more »

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Discussing the capital punishment in a mystery
7 January 2011 | by (India) – See all my reviews

This is an excellent suspense-thriller of 1960 which is an all time classic from the black and white era. Can you imagine a bollywood entertainer from the fifties and the sixties which is sans the regular ingredients of songs, romance and comedy ? No ? Please do see Kanoon which is devoid of songs, romance and comedy and yet it keeps you glued to the screen for two and a half hours. Its suspenseful drama is so impactful that the audience does not feel any need for any other bollywood formulae in the narrative.

It discusses the relevance of the DEATH PELANTY or the CAPITAL PUNISHMENT too. The verdict of the moviemaker is that the death penalty should be done away with in toto. My own view is that let it be in the books of law, only to be awarded in the rarest of rare cases. It has its importance but considering the fact that once awarded, it cannot be reverted even if it is known later that the verdict of the case was a faulty one; it should be awarded only selectively when the crime is quite heinous and there is little doubt in the accused's being guilty.

Judge Badri Prasad (Ashok Kumar) strongly opines that the capital punishment should be deleted from the book of Indian Penal Code because it is cruel and moreoever it does not leave any scope to correct the faulty judgment in any case which is always likely because judgments are given on the basis of evidences and witnesses which might be misleading. The twist in the tale comes when a moneylender, Dhaniram (Om Prakash) who is after his borrower son, Vijay (Mahmood) is murdered. The interesting thing is that the judge's would be son-in-law, Kailash (Rajender Kumar) is the eye-witness to this murder and he is shocked to see that the murderer is the judge himself. Now when an innocent person is arrested and put under trial for this murder in the court of the same judge with Kailash being the defense lawyer, the mutual relations of the judge, Kailash and the judge's daughter, Meena (Nanda) become tense and uneasy. After a memorable court-room drama, Kailash accuses his would-be father-in-law to be the murderer and gets him arrested and put under trial for the murder. The truth is revealed in the end with the reiteration that death penalty should be considered redundant and deleted from the legal books.

This suspense-thriller is so intriguing that it engrosses the viewer from the beginning to the end without any boredom. The viewer just forgets that there are no songs, no romance and no comedy served to him. He only keeps on watching, holding his breath and waiting for the suspense to be revealed. Legendary producer-director B.R. Chopra has directed this movie with such finesse that it is considered a twinkling diamond in the highly decorated crown worn by him.

The performances are great. Ashok Kumar and Rajender Kumar have delivered great performances in a neck-to-neck contest of excellence. Nanda, Jeevan, Mahmood, Manmohan Krishna, Shashikala, Nana Palsikar (won the award for the best supporting actor for this movie) and Om Prakash, all have done admirably.

As already said, there are no songs. However the background score is impressive. Technically this black and white movie is perfect without any deficiencies.

On the flip side, the narrative loses its charm in the end after revelation of the suspense and the five minutes long lecture of Ashok Kumar on the relevance of the capital punishment bores. Anyway, this is not a big minus point because the movie is just about to end.

Some three decades back, a session judge, Justice Sanwar Mal Agarwal had awarded capital punishment in a dowry-murder case and became quite famous due to this verdict. I had read his interview given to the popular Hindi magazine - Sarita in which he had referred to this movie (seen in his youth when he was studying law) and asserted that the difference between reel courts and real courts is even bigger than the reel life and real life. He's right. The high-voltage drama shown in the court in this movie is impossible to be witnessed in real courts. We can ignore this unreal portrayal of courts for the sake of the liberty taken by the narrator for the sake of entertaining the audience, i.e., us.

Summing up, Kanoon is an edge-of-the-seat classic suspense-thriller with a gripping court-room drama. No movie buff should miss it.


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