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A fuss over ‘fiffy’

What was so objectionable about 'Jaata Kahan Hai Deewane'?

A still from ‘C.I.D.’.
A still from ‘C.I.D.’.

In 1963, a group called The Kingsmen covered a Richard Berry number called Louie Louie. Their recording was banned by the state of Indiana and investigated by the FBI—all because no one could make out what the singer was saying and, therefore, assumed it was something filthy.

India’s Louie Louie moment came in 1956, with the noir thriller C.I.D. One of the musical sequences involved Dev Anand’s police officer, a mysterious woman played by Waheeda Rehman, and the O.P. Nayyar composition Jaata Kahan Hai Deewane. The song is so well-known today that it’s a shock when you watch the film and find it isn’t there.

The problem was one of the lines sung by Geeta Dutt: “Fiffy, kuch tere dil mein, fiffy, kuch mere dil mein". The censors jumped on the word “fiffy": They had no idea what it meant, so they assumed the worst. The sequence was edited out of the film.

In an interview, Nayyar said that the offending word was meaningless and not, as many assumed, a muffled “fifty". “Censors then had given us a lot of trouble by saying that ‘fiffy’ is an obscene word," he said.

Rehman had a different recollection. In an NDTV interview, she said the censors had a problem not with “fiffy" but with the suggestiveness of “Jaata kahaan hai deewane, sab kuch yahan hai sanam". “The censor board said, rewrite, re-record and reshoot this. They have got dirty minds—they only see dirty things."

Another wrinkle is added by Nasreen Munni Kabir’s book Guru Dutt: A Life In Cinema, which suggests the song was edited out because it shows the officer “in a bad light". In 2015, a commenter on Quora said “fifi" was a common word in colloquial Portuguese and meant “God will multiply" (how this applies to the film isn’t clear). Unless someone digs up a censor certificate, we may never know what was so objectionable about Jaata Kahan Hai Deewane.

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