Teesri Manzil (1966): What goes around comes around

The one big question I had before viewing Teesri Manzil (1966) was if the 'manzil' in the title referred to a destination or to a story (floor). Depending on how one views it, and as dialogue (which I shall not give away) suggested, it could well have been intended to mean both! (Although one was way more obvious.) It's dialogue such as the ones that lead to these moments of controlled ambiguity that is just one reason for the effectiveness of a film which is considered to be one of the finest musicals of its era. And it doesn't take long before one acknowledges its many accomplishments as well-deserved and well-earned, with specific mention to Filmmaker Nasir Hussain, Director Vijay Anand, and Music Director R. D. Burman.

A young woman named Roopa committed suicide at a hotel in the name of love for Anil Kumar 'Sona' (Shammi Kapoor). Sona, an artist, performed as 'Rocky' at that hotel, which was where lovely Sunita (Asha Parekh) arrived with revenge on her mind. She would later befriend and fall in love with Sona. But would she discover that he was Rocky? Would Rocky's confidant Mr. Kunwer (Prem Nath) succeed in aiding him to mask the truth? What was the truth? And how devastating would Sunita's discoveries be? What role would her cousin Ramesh (Prem Chopra) play? And would Ruby (Helen) pay the price for her misdeeds, motivated mostly by attraction? Teesri Manzil answered these questions within the framework of a classic mystery, complete with the elements of Bollywood cinema of which by far the biggest highlight was the music.

1. The beginning to the film was just perfect;

Asha Parekh wasted no time in making an impression.

2. Given the plot, comedy wasn't going to take center stage, but it almost did in some unique ways, a testament to the comic timing of the cast who made the most of every opportunity. Few films of the genre double as entertainers (which this is!), enough to warrant repeat viewings.

3. The focal point of the film -- the mystery -- was very well depicted. Should have known with the fun in comprehending the title (as noted above), that it would be a strong, dialogue-based film. The screenplay was, for the most part, excellent. And character sketches preceding the problem statement were effective, especially for those at the heart of it all, the two beautiful women vying for one man's love.

4. Greatly complemented by a phenomenal soundtrack, the film had tune after great tune. R. D. Burman's music and lyrics by Majrooh Sultanpuri were excellent. Here are four of my favorites, the first three widely considered to be among the biggest hits by two of the best vocalists Indian cinema will ever have known in Mohammad Rafi and Asha Bhosle:
  • Oh Haseeno Zulfon Waali (view here)
  • Aaja Aaja (view here)
  • O Mere Sona Re (view here)
  • Tum Ne Mujhe Dekha (view here)

5. Other noteworthy elements included some interesting cinematography and art direction, often with delightfully elaborate color palettes (are those Snow White dresses?):

There was also a decent dosage of circles. A reference to the circle of life, perhaps? Here a circle...

...there a circle...

...everywhere a circle,...


And what better viewing instrument than one with circles?!

I'm not sure this was what the filmmakers intended, but all the circles involved could certainly be subtle references to poetic justice and karma. They say what goes around comes around. Sure, it does. Maybe it does in the film, too. But at what cost?

And if you believe in superstitions, maybe you'd appreciate it as being more than merely a coincidence that the digits in Sona's room number (the room served as the site for significant suspect activity) added to the number 13:

The acting was top-notch throughout. The film was engaging, and although the climax was slightly predictable (I used to be better at playing along and not trying to anticipate the end; here's one instance where that would have helped), it wasn't something one would mind too much. The fantastic performances across the board, splendid and fun music, and dialogue, made this one for the ages. I'm going with over four stars for the incredibly amazing ride! I hope you enjoy(ed) it!

Movie rating: 4.25/5 (Excellent!)

Music rating: 4.75/5 (Stuff of legends!)

My rating: PG-13 (for plot, some violence)

PS: Honorable mention to a special appearance by Salim Khan (that would be Salman Khan's father, Helen's husband) of the Salim-Javed duo. And given this, and that this was a film by Aamir Khan's uncle, we've come full circle, haven't we? :)


Anonymous said...

I think most of the credit for this film's fabulous goodness goes to Vijay Anand, who directed it in his inimitable style!

and Shammi of course :-) It's one of my favorites.

Pitu said...

Wow! Awesome review. Yaar I am going to name you 'Teesri Aankh' because you inspect and examine what others wouldn't even notice! The whole circle bit was verrry Freudian! And oh yes, the music is just swoonworthy! I also thought the Shammi-Asha chemistry was cute.

My dad used to dance with me to Aaja Aaja in the living room- so I have fond memories of doing the dances from this film in my school pinafore :-D He was a massive Shammi fan and he actually met him once in an Air India flight back in the 80s. This shd give us hope to meet Aamir and SRK respectively ;-)

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Memsaab: It's a worthy favorite for sure. Vijay Anand's style adds so much to it.

Hi Pitu: Glad you liked the review, par itni taareef ka haqdaar nahin main! :) Shammi and Asha were great together. Those are great memories to share with and for your father, yaar. Awesome, and thank you for sharing! And 'hope' is always great! :)


Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

I cannot get over the Aja-Aja song- its just so amazing! They really seemed to be having a good time :)
I agree w/ Memsaab-Vijay should get the credit here- the Asha-Shammi-Helen-RD team had got together before- but with him added its magic :)

bollyviewer said...

I recently re-watched this and inspite of knowing the end was still taken in by the suspenseful melodrama (when it comes to Bollywood thrillers one needs to be very, very gullible!). Its such a great fun movie and one I can re-watch several times without tiring! :-)

Have you tried Vijay Anand's Jewel Thief? Thriller-wise, its a lot more stylish and interesting.

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi Shweta: The crew certainly deserves every bit of credit, and I've maxed out my number of viewings of each song over the past couple of weeks, LOL. In addition to 'Aaja Aaja', I really love 'Tum Ne Mujhe Dekha'; cannot get enough of the latter, especially the dramatic sequence immediately following! :)

Hi Bollyviewer: 'Gullible' is the correct word, right! Although I am the ideal audience for a Hindi filmmaker, no doubts about that.

I haven't seen 'Jewel Thief' yet, but now I have it (and your other recommendation C.I.D.). What little I've seen of Dev Anand has been fantastic, and I'm hoping to get to them soon!

Thank you both for your comments! Cheers!

Nicki said...

I didn't read too much in your review (but will later) because I have this on my to-watch queue. Thanks for reminding me!

Filmi Girl said...

Yay! I love this film and I've been meaning to re-watch it soon. I second the recommendation of "Jewel Thief."

Nice observation on the circles - I hadn't noticed that before... :)

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

You totally have to see both CID and Jewel Thief! Dev rocks Bolly noir like no one else, even Shammi (he had too much energy for noir I think :D)

theBollywoodFan said...

Hi all, and thank you for your comments.

Nicki: I hope you like it. I'm almost certain you'll enjoy the songs!

Filmi Girl: I can't stop playing the songs, seriously. The circles were interesting (there were a few more). By the time we get to the one from within the guitar (in Aaja Aaja), we realize there's some trend. And you know how the rest works -- if we're on the lookout for it, we'll find it!

Shweta: I'm starting to like the genre, and now I'm really looking forward to the two films! I can see how Dev would bring in more with less. More in movie-specific posts.

Cheers, all!