October 3, 2007

Teesri Manzil

Title: Teesri Manzil
Year: 1966
Cast: Shammi Kappor, Asha Parekh, Helen, Iftekhar, Prem Chopra, Prem Nath.

Its my favorite decade for movies (the 60s rock!), with my favorite team: Nasir Hussain (Production), RD Burman (Music) and Vijay Anand (Direction)- how could one go wrong? Every song is dripping with cool, and Shammi gives us his best Elvis impersonations ever!

The movie opens with a woman running up to the 3rd floor of a building, and falling to her death as the opening credits roll.

Its scene one, and we realise the woman was named Neeta, and she was Sunita (Asha Parekh)'s sister. Neeta was apparently engaged to Ramesh (Prem Chopra), and a year after her death we find that Ramesh and his dad are discussing Sunita and Ramesh's marriage. But our perky young heroine has no time for that yet- she is off to Dehradun (a town in the Northern Indian hills), to meet a friend.


At the train station, she meets up with Anil (Shammi Kapoor), and as was common in movies at that time, we note the old "girl-meets-boy-they-argue" routine.



More hilarity follows in the train at the expense of a fellow traveller- cue the fat jokes!

By the end of the journey, Sunita has had it with Anil, who promptly disappears. Her friend Meena has come to get her...


Sunita reveals to Meena that her sister had been in Mussoorie (another hillside town) at the time of her death, and had fallen in love with Rocky, the hotel's band's drummer. She believes that Rupa had killed herself by jumping off the hotel's roof since Rocky had raped and deserted her. She means to track the man down and extract revenge by having her university's girl's hockey team beat him up (oh go figure! I don't get it either!). Little does Sunita realise that Anil, the man she met in the train, is actually Rocky himself.......

And of course Rocky overhears the whole thing when Sunita idiotically repeats the whole story at the hotel roof from where Rupa had jumped.....

Anil thinks on his feet, and pretends to be Anil Kumar Sona, the son of the Hotel's owner and a important businessman of the city. He flirts with the girls...


While one of his friends pretends to be Rocky instead of him. Folks- look carefully at the guy playing the pseudo-Rocky- recognize him? Its none other than Salim Khan, of the Salim-Javed scriptwriters duo (Sholay), Salman Khan's dad and Helen's husband!


A surreal song sequence follows; this is the only time Helen and Salim are in a frame together in any movie (ever), and this adds to the coolness of the song with its barking mad visuals....

Sunita tries to flirt with the Peudo-Rocky, and sets up a date with him; but not without some interference by Anil/Rocky...



But pseudo-Rocky breaks the date (and also vanishes from the movie from good- bye bye Salim!) He leaves Sunita a note saying he has had to leave urgently for his village, and only Anil (real Rocky) can get him back. So Sunita and Rocky decide to leave together for the village....

But not without Meena stowed away in the boot with a gun (!!!!).....

Meena goes on a bathroom break somewhere in the middle of nowhere while Anil/Rocky romances Sunita.....

who resists his charms until he rescues her from a fate worse than death by risking his own life....

So Sunita falls in love with him and they drive back to the hotel (what? no more going after Rocky to his village? what happened of the plans to seek revenge????) but luckily they remember to pick Meena from the middle of the forest where they had left her overnight (Sunita is attacked by goons despite being in a licked car- how about Meena? - does no one care for her virtue??????)
They get back only for Anil/Rocky to find that his room has been rifled through.....



He is sure that the police suspect him in Rupa's suicide case, and he wants to tell Sunita the truth that he is in fact Rocky but had no hand in his sister's death, but ignore these finer feelings in favor of going to the fair with Sunita in pink heathers and himself in a teal dress jacket....



Anil/Rocky decides to share his traumatic thoughts with Kunwar(Prem Nath), the hotel's owner, and his mentor.



We have a flash back, where Anil/Rocky recounts how Rupa had fallen in love with him and his drum-beating skills when she heard him in concert at the hotel a year ago. She was engaged to Ramesh, but went after Anil/Rocky anyway, who avoided her advances (why?????). It allcame down the day Ramesh came to town on a surprise visit to his fiance, and yelled at her while she was swinging on the dance floor with Anil/Rocky, even throwing out a death threat or two at her.....

Later that evening, Rupa had called Anil/Rocky, threatening suicide if he didnt open his room's door to her when she came to visit him late that night. he refuses,she comes over anyway, knocks, but he feigns sleep and ignores her beating down the door.....


And guess what that results in....looks like she did jump/or was she pushed??????




Kunwar hears out Anil/Rocky's tale, offers encouragement, and even goes with him to meet Sunita and her dad, to talk about Anil/rocky's wedding to Sunita, all the while pretending to be Anil/Rocky's dad. Neither of them makes much of an attempt to lay the facts before Sunita and her dad......



At last, wracked with guilt, he tells all to Sunita in a letter to her. The dumb idiot that she is, she ignores everything else he has written to note just one fact- that Anil is indeed Rocky. That is enough to send all of them over the edge, throwing out Rocky bodily from the house....


This is when our secret police steps in....its Iftekhar to the rescue! Young and suave, it
is a pleasure to see him in one of his countless "inspector" avtars....

Iftekhar informs Anil/Rocky that Rupa didnt kill her self- she was in fact murdered, and the police doesnt suspect him at all. Rather, they need his help figuring out who did it- his first suspect is Ruby (Helen), who has been throwing herself at him since the beginning of the movie, and he figures she killed Rupa out of sheer jealousy. His suspicions are unfounded however; when he goes to question and proceeds to manhandle her, she is shot by a mysterious man hanging out of the window the shooter, not Helen- duh!) and dies weeping in his arms....
This second murder is the talk of the town and again finds Anil/Rocky in custody, where the police keeps him, inspite of Kunwar's attempts to bail him out....

Once Kunwar leaves, Iftekhar reveals to Anil/Rocky that the shooter had in fact attempted to kill Anil/Rocky, that the murderer is definitely a man (why the heck didnt you tell him this before he went rushing off to threaten Ruby?She may have lived!), and this is proved by the fact that when Rupa died, she had clutched in her fingers a button from the murderer's jacket, which was a huge diamonte, the kind that belongs on a flashy men's jacket.


Next we find Iftekhar doing some real work for once (like why was he folllowing Anil/Rocky when he wasnt a suspect? helllo??!!) He bascically moseys over to Ramesh's/Ramesh's father's/Sunita's/Sunita's dads/Meena's home and deduces/announces to the assembled folks that Ramesh was in fact in staying at the hotel the night Rupa jumped off it, and since he had threatened her earlier, he may very well have carried out those same threats and bumped her off easily....




All this seems to do really is to throw a damper on all talks regarding Ramesh and Sunita's wedding.....which had come back into discussion since her breakup with Anil/Rocky. Meanwhile, a mysterious woman wanders into Anil/Rocky's room, and announces that she knows who killed Rupa and Ruby, that in fact the dame individual is trying to kill Anil/Rocky, and has sent his goons to accomplish that aim. the goons in question are currently at a cafe, and leaving it in 15 minutes, so he should therefore make haste and catch them before they take off. Anil/Rocky shows great presence of mind by actually informing inspector Iftekhar about this via telephone before locking in the mysterious woman in his room and dashing off to the goons.....


Something strange is afoot since the minute he leaves, the woman basically walks out of the room (you idiot! you didnt tie her up!). Anil/Rocky is rushing down the Dehradun hills before realising that the old plot favorite, the failed car crashes, have been imposed on him.....




He humps out of the car before if falls off the cliff. Since he is convinced now that someone is indeed after his life, he chooses to remain in hiding while the police declares him presumed dead. Sunita, who has been growing convinced of his innocence in her sister's murder, now openly mourns him, but the mourning is short-lived- he basically knocks at her door one evening, and tells her how he is being hunted down by her sister's murder, because he apparently knows something that may convict the murderer. They drive over to the hotel to make inquiries.....


While Sunita is at the hotel making said inquiries, Anil/Rocky waits in the car, when he sees the same mysterious woman who came to his room coming out of a cottage and walking to a car.....

He follows her to.....Kunwar's estate, where she disappears somewhere in the grounds....he is trying to decide whether to walk in on the shadows he sees in the window when.....

Kunwar drives in! Anil/Rocky explains his dillemma to him, which Kunwar rubbishes, and they walk into the house to find that the shadows are in fact Kunwar's estate manager drinking himself to a stupor...a very cool and sly cameo by the amazing KN Singh, a villan popular in Bollywood Noir from the 50s and 60s.


Kunwar talks Anil/Rocky into sleeping over at his house for the night, and locks him into his own bedroom till morning, claiming this is the only way that Anil/Rocky will get his much needed rest. Anil/Rocky is somewhat mollified and opens a wardrobe in the room, looking for pajamas to chill in when he discovers….

Kunwar has a jacket with the buttons matching the one found in the hand of Rupa’s dead body! Anil tries it on for size (whyyyy????), getting more and more visibly upset that his mentor has killed two people, and has definitely retained him for the night to make him his third victim. Rocky/Anil escapes the bedroom via a window, so that when Kunwar walks in (with a gun in his hand!) to shoot him, he is furious to find an empty room….

Kunwar stomps out and discusses the matter with his cohort, the mysterious woman (I still don’t know her name!) who Anil/Rocky had been following. She tried to run out on him, fearing discovery and jail, but he bids him to stay while he goes and seeks out Anil/Rocky…

As soon as Kunwar leaves, Rocky jumps back into the room, and forces the woman to blurt out the truth via telephone to the police.
She gets on the phone with Iftekhar, and recounts her story: she was a new widow when she met Kunwar, a married man. Their consequent affair was discovered by his wife, who died accidentally in the ensuing argument with her husband, witnessed by the woman.
To avoid public scandal, Kunwar and the woman took the body to bury it in the hills, which was seen (accidentally, again) by Rupa, on the night she was coming to visit Rocky in his room at midnight, as warned by her earlier…
She was noticed by Kunwar spying on them burying the body, so he took off after her, hoping to kill her before she blurted out the truth to all and sundry….
She got to the hotel, and tried to wake Anil/Rocky, who didn’t open his door, thinking he was only avoiding her amorous advances…

So she runs up to the roof to avoid discovery by Kunwar, who fids her anyways and throws her off the roof….
and yup- thats poor Rupa....
The woman’s narration is just complete, when Kunwar comes back and shoots her to stop her confession- a tad too late, you would think…..
And so Anil/Rocky get into a fight, wrestling all the way to the roof….
And Kunwar ends up dangling from the roof, giving a to the police present, then releasing himself from Anil/Rocky's arms....
And he diestoo, kinda like Rupa....

And next we know, Sunita and Anil/Rocky live happily ever after!


Lots of plot holes here- including the most important- Kunwar never had any real reason to suspect that Anil/Rocky knew of his having murdered Rupa. Lot of coincidences are a little too convenient- Anil just happens to see Kunwar's accomplice/gf as he waits outside the hotel. All such plot contrivances aside, the movie makes for great entertainment, and the mod outfits are alone worth the three hours spent. If you have seen it, see it again! If you havent seen it, what are you waiting for??? :)

9 comments:

Beth said...

I watched this a few weeks ago at the suggestion of my dear friend Kaddele at Paint-it-Pink.de - and wow!!! I still haven't written it up because it is just so fabulous that I don't know where to begin. I hope to show it to two friends who have asked me to initiate them into Bollywood...do you think it will do the trick?

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Sorry for the late response- for some reason, this particular page isnt uploading too well! While I agree with your choice of movie, you might also want to try "Shaan"- have u seen it? It is my fav Shashi-amitabh movie to date- and the villian is beyond compare!

Beth said...

Oh yes, I'm a huge fan of Shaan. Unfortunately the copy I bought (after renting it) is CRAP - the color is washed out, the songs aren't subtitled, etc. Bleh. I might have to re-invest.

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Ohh thats so not good! Its awful that u havent enjoyed Shaan to its fullest- its beyond compare (at least for me). I will try to find a copy, and will let u know if i do- can send it to u then.

Beth said...

Fab!

Two friends are after me to introduce them to Bollywood (I've sent them some youtube song videos to watch, but they haven't seen any whole movies), and I am veeeery tempted to show them Shaan. What do you think: too much? or perfectly awesome?

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Very Very perfectly awsome! (Such bad grammer- :D) Like who can resist that villian's lair in the mountains w/ pet alligators..and that bicycle with Amit and Shashi serenading the girls on the bus...

I am actively looking for Shaan: am planning a trip to Artesia, which has tons of Indian movie stores, about 50 miles from me. I hope to find some good stuff there.

You know, you may also like "The Burning Train." Fetures a million actors, is a disaster movie from the 70s modelled after "the towering inferno," and has Vinod Khanna and Dharmendra- along with Hema and Pravin, Jeetendra and the very adorable Danny.

Beth said...

Ooooh, that sounds great! I don't think I've even heard of it - and clearly I must!

Anonymous said...

Did you notice that the car over the cliff stock footage is the same one that got used in Caravan? (Also starring Asha Parekh, though in that case, it was her driving the car with no brakes.)

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Anonymous: Sadly, I never did see Caravan! I have Jitendra issues... but I can very well imagine the crash footage being replicated- I think they use the same stock for a lot of those car crash, car explosion, car out of control scenes ... fun!