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May 14, 2011 08:26 PM 3948 Views





Many are of the opinion that murder mysteries/suspense thrillers have no repeat read value. Once the murderer is revealed or the suspense is resolved the thrill of reading the book ends then and there. What is there to read more about? But I do not subscribe to this view. According to me, murder mysteries/suspense thrillers can also be read and re-read without getting bored or having the knowledge of how the story culminates. With every read, hints and clues left by the author hither and thither, missed in the first read, come to light , many characters are re-found, the story takes new colour and dimension and the mystery and suspense in the end have newer meaning and strangely surprise more and afresh. Such is the writing ability of the super fine author that the reader is kept glued to the book even if he/she knows what turn the story is going to take next. Therefore, there is nothing astonishing if I say I have read an Agatha Christie, a Ruskin Bond or a Satyajit Ray more than once and can read again and again if I can lay my hands on their creations in future.

Likewise, there are a few directors of murder mystery/suspense thriller genre whose movies have tremendous repeat value. Every time I see these movies the quality of story telling keeps me stuck to my TV set even though I know very well what the end will be. One such director is Vijay Anand. I am an ardent fan of his crisp, precise direction. But alas! I also feel that he is the most under rated of his clan and has not been given the recognition which is due to him. Be it his Guide (though this is not a murder mystery/suspense thriller), Jewel Thief, Black Mail or Teesri Manzil, I take pride in saying that I have watched these movies n number of times and can do so again and again. It is rightly said that old is gold and never fades in glory or glitter even if lying in dust and debris (of time).

The other day, having nothing much to do I re-watched his film Teesri Manzil (1966). What a movie! In fact I have lost the count of time I have seen this movie. For me this is a complete movie wherein the story, the script, the screen play, the characterization, the performances, the fantastic scores including the background music, all in perfect sync, add up to the mystery.

The movie starts with a girl, called Roopa, jumping from the third floor of a hotel (Teesri Manzil which if correctly translated should be the fourth floor but we shall keep to the third floor as it goes hand in hand with the Hindi title) and committing suicide. There are witnesses to the mishap who chose to keep mum and thereon starts a roller coaster ride which sweeps the audience non-stop till the end of the movie. A year passes by and the hapless girl’s younger sister, Suneeta (Asha Parekh), decides to visit the same hotel in Mussoorie to take revenge on the drum player (Rocky) of the band which regularly plays in the hotel. From the letters written by the dead girl, her sister, Suneeta comes to know that the suicide is the outcome of jilted love and consequent heart break. The heart breaker is none other than Anil Kumar Rocky (Shammi Kapoor) who refuses to acknowledge the dead girl’s love for him.

However, as fate will have it, Suneeta bumps into Anil again and again during the course of her journey. Anil knowing that Suneeta hates Rocky, introduces himself now as Anil Kumar Sona to her. She unwittingly gets drawn to his charm and falls in love with him. Anil tells Suneeta that he is the nephew of the rich Mahender Pratap Singh (Premnath) – a man born with the so called golden spoon. Rocky even goes to the extent of conniving with and convincing the rich man to pretend as his uncle so that he can win over his sweetheart who is rich and pretty. Mahender Pratap Singh having a romantic heart and jovial disposition agrees to enact the role of the uncle too.

In the meantime, a guilty and deeply-in-love Rocky prepares to tell Suneeta about his true antecedents. But it is Ruby (Helen) the rock dancer of the hotel, also in love with Anil, who spills the beans. Suneeta, in an inopportune moment comes to know that Anil is the same Rocky – the cause of her sister’s death. But before Ruby can be brought around to confess her role in distorting facts of the story, she is murdered by an unknown assailant.

It is at this juncture, that Rocky comes to know that Suneeta’s sister, Roopa, did not commit suicide but was also murdered. A series of incidents follow which point Rocky as the murderer. Suneeta loses faith in him. Will Rocky be able to prove his innocence and win back his love? If Rocky is innocent, who is the actual culprit then? Is it the dead girl’s erstwhile fiancé, Ramesh (Prem Chopra), who is now eyeing Suneeta but the previous year had threatened to kill her sister in public? Who killed Ruby and Roopa? What is the secret that Rocky knows about the murderer because of which his life is in danger? And above all, who is the man in black who is always shadowing Rocky? These are the questions which will be answered once you see the movie Teesri Manzil.

A true director has an eye for the characters. The casting of this movie is so perfect that viewers cannot imagine anybody else in the role of Rocky but the debonair Shammi Kapoor or any other heroine but Asha Parekh as Suneeta. But it is Premnath in the role of the rich and suave Mahender Pratap Singh who steals the heart. Ifteqar as the police inspector does hundred percent justice to his character and adds more mystery to the already mystery ridden plot of the story. A simple story told in a characteristic manner, that is the true Vijay Anand style, is Teesri Manzil.

Last but not the least, is the music of this movie. This is the first movie which has a goose bumpy signature tune Pink Panther style. The background music befits every situation and heightens the drama therein. And Oh what songs!!!This is R.D. Burman’s first film as music director. It is said that when Shammi Kapoor first heard one of the scores of this movie (O Haseena Zulfonwaali) he predicted then and there that these are going to be trendsetting music. And the rest is history. Who can forget the chart busters like O Mere Sona Re (Asha-Rafi duo), Aajaa Aajaa Main Hoon Pyar Tera (Asha-Rafi duo), Tumne Mujhe Dekha(Rafi solo), Deewana Mujhsa Nahin(Rafi solo) and the afore mentioned O Haseena Zulfonwali(Asha-Rafi duo). These are still hummed and sung and re-sung. The lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri is outstanding. Though, Nasir Hussain, Vijay Anand and Shammi Kapoor, all three, take the credit of “finding” the phenomenal Panchamda but Pancham himself bestows this credit to Majrooh Sultanpuri who recommended him to Nasir Hussain for the music of the film. The picturizations of the songs are evergreen, immaculate and extremely fitting.

And so is the movie! Vijay Anand was much ahead of his times. He brought in quality to direction of action packed movies which were much in line with the English movies of those times. That is why his movies are till date repeatedly viewable and enjoyable. This is a Nasir Hussain Film Production who has always given super-duper box office hits to the audience. Interestingly, he (Nasir) wrote the story of the movie keeping Dev Anand in mind. Thank God Shammi Kapoor in the long run transpired to be this film’s hero b’coz though I am a Dev Anand fan too but try as I may I can’t imagine Mr. Anand in the role of a rock and roll, hep dancer.


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Teesri Manzil