Obfuscation doesn’t just mean to hide; it means making things seem more obscure, mixed up or encrypted for a reason.

There’s so much obfuscation happening in Hindi films: a rich man pretending to be poor to help someone; a ‘bad’ girl pretending to be good for selfish or noble reasons; or even someone merely sticking a moustache, or wearing a wig, to pass off as someone else. However, without a doubt, Hindi cinema’s most successful obfuscation agent is the parda.

Some of Hindi cinema’s most enjoyable songs feature this hide-and-seek game. What makes this game deliciously ironic is that everyone in the cinema hall can see through the ruse and, indeed, enjoy the attempted obfuscation. Except the actors themselves.

Shammi Kapoor was direct as usual in Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957) as he joined O P Nayyar-Majrooh-Rafi in telling the unknown one to come out up front [1]. Sandhya Roy in Asli Naqli (1962) is certain that her ‘brother’ Dev Anand can’t hide his secret for long no matter how much he tries, [2] and SJ-Hasrat-Lata help articulate this conviction with immense melody. There’s also the beauteous Suchitra Sen who is tormented by the disappearance of her love [3] in Champakali (1957); Hemant Kumar-Rajinder Krishan-Lata describe this torment with lilt.

The parda itself has paraded itself in many moods: the sublime [4], featuring Mala Sinha, Jeetendra in a train in Mere Huzoor (1968); the playful [5] featuring Rishi Kapoor, Neetu Singh and her family in Amar Akbar Anthony (1977), and the ridiculous [6] has Shammi Kapoor again, this time hoping to hide his portly frame in Kashmir Ki Kali (1964).

But my pick for the smartest obfuscation act has to be by Waheeda Rehman in Guru Dutt’s CID (1956) directed by Raj Khosla. The baddie is about to corner the cop Dev cidAnand, but Waheeda dances to entice him even as the words of her song alert Dev Anand about the lurking danger and the escape route. It’s beautifully done by OP Nayyar-Majrooh-Shamshad Begum, but still can’t surpass Waheeda’s mesmerizing beauty and dance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtaaKVWsmSk

Kahin pe nigahen, kahin pe nishana, jeene do zalim banao na deewana
[Your looks portend a sinister objective, why not just live and let live?]

Aaya shikari o panchhi tu sambhal ja, ek jaal hai zulfon ka tu chupke se nikal ja
[Your hunter is here, the flying hair will help you flee to safety]

[1] Shammi Kapoor + Rafi + O P Nayyar-Majrooh. Tumsa Nahin Dekha (1957)

[2] Dev Anand-Sandhya Roy + Lata + SJ-Hasrat Jaipuri. Asli Naqli (1962)

[3] Suchitra Sen + Lata + Hemant Kumar-Rajendra Krishan. Champakali (1957)

[4] Mala Sinha-Jeetendra + Rafi + SJ-Hasrat Jaipuri. Mere Huzoor (1968)

[5] Rishi Kapoor-Neetu Singh-Amitabh Bachchan + Rafi + LP-Anand Bakshi. Amar Akbar Anthony (1977)

[6] Shammi Kapoor-Sharmila Tagore + Rafi + O P Nayyar-S H Bihari. Kashmir Ki Kali (1964)

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