One of the many things that make CID instantly recognisable is its cast of enduring faces. The series popularly retained the same actors it more or less began with in 1998. However, apart from the main cast and the show’s creator B.P. Singh, CID has seen many collaborators over the years. The show became a platform for young writers and actors who went on to prosper beyond the small screen. While Bollywood actors periodically visit their less glamorous counterparts to promote their films and cash in on audience favourites – everyone from the three Khans to Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra have made appearances – we’re more interested in the actors who came for the roles (or their bank balance). Here are our favourites.
Shridhar Raghavan is arguably working on some of the most exciting projects of 2023. The screenwriter’s latest projects consist of the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer Pathaan, releasing at the end of this month, and Tiger 3 in the latter half of the year, with Salman Khan reprising his massively popular role. However, Raghavan’s career began with television. He was roped in by the veteran screenwriter Anjum Rajabali to work on Aahat (Sony’s horror anthology television series) which was being directed by Singh, who later created CID. Raghavan began writing for the show when it first took off, regularly working on episodes well into 2006. Simultaneously, he wrote feature films like Khakhee (2004) and Bluffmaster (2005) which worked towards paving the way for him to become a director. After a decade’s gap, Raghavan returned as a writer on CID and stayed on until the show was taken off the air in 2018. The War writer is said to have scripted around for the show.
Crime forms the bedrock of Sriram Raghavan’s dark narratives and perhaps a history with CID should surprise nobody. After his education at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII), the director was commissioned to make a film on the serial killer Raman Raghav – the 68-minute film which would later inspire Anurag Kashyap to make his own film, Raman Raghav 2.0 (2016) – while simultaneously working on episodes of CID. His debut feature film, Ek Haseena Thi (2004), has elements of this previous work: Rage, manipulation, revenge and of course, murder. Unlike his brother Shridhar Raghavan’s association with CID, Sriram’s involvement wasn’t a lasting one. “I used to write and direct some episodes whenever my bank balance was down,” said the director in an . Years later, the director and Singh seem to be on great terms, with Singh making a cameo in Raghavan’s Agent Vinod (2012).
Sporting primary-coloured shirts and a head full of hair, Lagaan’s director Ashutosh Gowarikar can be spotted in many of CID’s initial episodes. The director was on the show well before much of the serial’s popular cast ‘joined the force’ and he played the role of Senior Inspector Viren. Gowariker, who left the show to direct Lagaan (2001) starring Aamir Khan, reportedly told Singh, “If this (film) flops, I’m coming back.” (Lagaan would later be nominated for India’s third Academy Award nomination for Best International Feature Film.) The director who calls “” also starred in Circus during the same period as CID, alongside Shah Rukh Khan who would later shoulder the director’s fourth directorial project, Swades (2004).
Om Puri’s cameo in CID acts as a nostalgic reminder of the veteran actor’s significant Doordarshan stint. Puri’s ease with acting looks almost out of place in CID’s kitschy set-up – as Sundar, a child-kidnapper, he injects malicious humour into ordinary dialogues (“Bohot jaldi hai? [In a mighty hurry, are you?] he asks the man rapping on his PCO booth, interrupting his ransom call). We’re later told Puri is actually CBI Inspector Joe Santose, working as a kidnapper to bring down a fake currency racket. The officers team up and catch the miscreants together – a recording chip, fake notes and a lopsided wig on Puri’s head all playing their part in the showdown.
Ace actor Rajat Kapoor shows up in an episode titled “One Face Two Men”, immediately bringing to mind The Viral Fever’s (TVF) disarmingly-accurate spoof of the television series – Qissa Missing Dimaag Ka – in which film critic “Rajeev NaPasand” has an evil twin. In CID’s episode, Kapoor plays Tanuj, the owner of an 8000-crore company. When an identical man is found dead, it can be easy to assume that it’s a case of twins. But, of course it isn’t and neither is it a case of plastic surgery. It’s cloning, my friends. Not one but two clones. At one point, ACP Pradyuman says, “Matlab ek jaise dikhne waale teen teen Tanuj?” and we suspect this was the primary reason for naming Kapoor’s character Tanuj. Sure, you might have seen Kapoor nail his last double role in RK/RKay (2022), but have you seen his first?
Before she found popularity as a small-screen villain (and later as a comic actor), Ashwini Kalsekar played Asha, an inspector on CID’s team. Kalsekar shows up in the eleventh episode of the first season and works closely with Inspector Viren (Gowariker), but stays long after he leaves. As the first woman inspector on the show, Asha is a respected member of the team whose opinion is given equal ground as her male counterparts. (And might we say, the woman was nailing the 90s chic look. Leather jackets, flared jeans and loose shirts? Yes, please). She worked on the series consistently till 2004 before she quit to work on other television dailies, but the show brought the actress her initial recognition and even introduced her to Sriram Raghavan who has since cast her in many of his films, from Johnny Gaddaar (2007) to Andhadhun (2018).
Kay Kay Menon potentially played the most significant role a Bollywood actor has played on CID. In 2004, the actor was a part of a 111-minute single-take episode called The Inheritance, which entered The Guinness Book of World Records for the longest episode shot without a single cut. Menon reportedly agreed to be a part of the episode without even hearing the story. The episode was aired in a continuous two-hour slot, without any ad breaks – an anomaly for Indian television at the time. "Since there was no precedent for such an episode, it was challenging to write a script without cuts. It had to have all the ingredients of suspense, flashback and flashforward. There was no scope for the camera to cut and dissolve and nothing that could be hidden from it," Singh told Indian Express in an interview. Menon plays a hotelier who is in town to sort out his huge inheritance, inviting opportunistic distant relatives and a mysterious murderer.