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The right ingredients of film making
Feb 06, 2012 01:35 PM 3463 Views
(Updated Feb 06, 2012 01:32 PM)





I was fortunate enough to catch a screening of Teesri Manzilon the “Sunday Classics” section of SAB tv channel. It was a Sunday afternoon and I was tired of running around meeting people and giving diatribes to every Indian that I happened to come across on the street about the growing cynicism of the average Indian. Of course, the majority of the brunt was borne by the auto rickshaw drivers and the rickshaw pullers and the only reason they didn’t seem to mind my barrage was because they were being paid for their silence. So, I knew that every time they nodded their head in complete agreement with whatever I was howling on about, it was more to do with trying to scab an extra 10 or so rupees off me for the ordeal they were being put through than anything else.

I cannot stand watching films on television. It’s the advertisements that play such a spoilsport. I’d rather pay a hefty sum and go to the theatre or buy a DVD than spend hours on end in front of a flickering screen that starts ranting off about products that I ‘need’ to have before I die just when the movie starts to get into a stride. But I decided to watch Teesri Manzil.Firstly, because I knew I had to rest – I’d run around long enough for my cartilages to rust and more importantly, because I had heard the songs of the film a million times and they featured amongst my favourites. I’d enjoy any Rafi-Shammi combo song, but I’d never gotten round to watching the songs in their proper context – in the film! I’ve seen videos, heard the songs, have them on repeat on my mp3 player/iPod but never knew how they fit in the larger context of the films in which they were used. So for Rafi-Shammi and Shammi-Asha, I decided that I can sit through the prolonged agony of the ads. And boy, did I have a jolly good time!

Calling Teesri Manzila thriller would be a bit of a misnomer. Yes, it is a murder-mystery but as the norm goes, once you know the identity of the killer, there is hardly any pleasure in repeat viewings. However, with Teesri Manzil,I know that if I ever get the chance to watch it again, I’d enjoy it as much as I did the first time, if not more. Because, by the end of it, I didn’t really care about who killed who, I was thoroughly enjoying what was being served. And that’s the kind of film that stays with you I guess, one which can transcend its genre and leave its imprint on your mind.


Rupa, a girl dies in mysterious circumstances at a lodge. Her death is deemed a suicide as it is assumed that she jumped from the third storey of the lodge to her death after being unable to face the scorn of her lover, Rocky. Sunita (Asha Parekh) arrives at the lodge with the intention of killing Rocky, whom she holds responsible for her sister Rupa’s death. En route to her vengeance, she meets Arun (Shammi Kapoor), who becomes enchanted by Sunita. However, as Sunita and Arun come closer to finding out the identity of Rocky, mishaps begin to occur. What does Ruby (Helen) have to tell Sunita about who Rocky is and what was his relationship with Rupa? Who is Rocky? Did Rupa really commit suicide because of scorned love or is there something more to the tale? There are many players and suspects – Ruby (Helen), who is in love with Rocky, Rocky himself (identity revealed in the film), Ramesh (Prem Chopra), jealous fiancée of Rupa, Arun (Shammi Kapoor) and Kunwar Saheb (Prem Nath, the protective father figure of Rocky, where Rocky works). Who is the culprit? Can he be caught before he strikes again?


If someone were to enter my room when O Haseena Zulfonwaalior Aaja Aaja main hoon pyaar terawere playing and mistakenly assume that they had entered the mental asylum, then I can see where they would be coming from. My folks saw in amazement the reaction of a Neanderthal man first discovering tools, and the euphoria that comes with it. My bed whimpered, squeaked and screeched in agony as I put it under a physically exhausting regimen, jumping from one end to the other like an Orang-utan on an overdose of Redbull. I’m sure the bed now prefers the gentle squeaking of midnight escapades than my wild antics. It’s especially hard to control yourself when you know every beat of the song, the change in the key, when to position yourself for the change in expression and the pickup of the tempo. It’s one of those moments when you close your eyes and let the music flow, because the movements that come afterwards are definitely not graceful or elegant!

If I was on a wild rampage during the rock n roll numbers, I was belting out on full volume, in my best crooning imitation, the romantic numbers. Seeing me croon Tumne Mujhe Dekha,with my arms outstretched and my head tilted sideways – imitating Shammi ji, any doubts that my relatives had that I had lost my sense of ‘Indianness’ were expediently removed. In that moment, I was probably the most ‘Indian’ of all Indians. I’m sure, the ear buds came in handy because I may thinkthat I sound like Rafi sahib, but I think I’m the only who believes that, no-one else!

Then there is O Mere Sona reand Deewana Mujhsa Nahin.Majrooh sahib will remain my favourite lyricist. And to think that he considered lyric writing to be an abomination of the craft of poetry.Pukarta Chala Hoon Mainis perhaps my favourite song, if not one of my favourites. Just sample these lines: Deewana mujhsa nahin is ambar ke neeche; aage hai qatil mera aur main peeche peeche.What weight in the words! Aage hai qatil mera aur main peeche peeche –I willingly follow my death, I follow thee who has stolen my heart because I have no control over myself! Just imagine the metaphorical implications. Leave the girl, if someone said that to me, Iwould melt in an instant!RD Burman, Sultanpuri, Shammi-Asha-Rafi, this film could do no wrong. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed watching a film this much in the past decade. What happened on the way? Music, lyrics, acting, star power, plot, script, dialogues, singers, everything clicked back then. This is not a critical appraisal of a film. This is a civilised person trying to explain to the world how a few moments on screen made him lose his sanity and made him into a hoarse, crooning frog cum orang-utan hybrid!! I’ve nothing to say about Teesri Manzilas an objective assessment. I wasn’t watching the film, I was living it. I was jumping around like a lab tested DNA mutant half the time, let alone be calm enough to reflect upon what I saw!

If anything, the thriller segment of the film waited till too long in the 2nd half to unfold but that’s a minor thing. It was common of the films in the 60s to follow this formula – set up the mystery/plot in the beginning, then distract via subplots and fooling around between hero/heroine and then return to the beginning mystery in the pre-climax stage for a resolution in the climax. Teesri Manziltaught me what happens when a Hindi film gets all its ingredients right – magic! It just doesn’t happen these days…

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Teesri Manzil