New Delhi: It’s hard to think of the 1960s and 70s without Shammi Kapoor. He dominated the Hindi film industry during that time with his ability to liven up any scene with his energetic performances and iconic dance moves.
While it would be difficult to pick his best performance, it’s safe to say that the 1966 classic, Teesri Manzil, was his most memorable film.
As the country remembers the star on his eighth death anniversary this week (he died on 14 August, 2011), ThePrint flashes back to this musical thriller.
Starring Kapoor and Asha Parekh, the movie revolves around a mystery over the suicide of a woman, Roopa, in a hotel in Mussoorie. Her sister, Sunita (played by Parekh), visits the same hotel a year later to exact revenge on Rocky (played by Kapoor), a drummer at the hotel, who Sunita believes is responsible for her sister’s suicide. Rocky is introduced to Sunita as Anil, and she continues her journey up to Mussoorie to hunt for Rocky.
Hindi cinema is not usually known for delivering good thrillers, but Teesri Manzil is one exception. Directed by Vijay Anand and written by Nasir Hussain, the plot reels one in with the mystery that is built up well, and the love story between Kapoor and Parekh keeps the audience invested.
While it may seem like the film is dominated by Rocky and Sunita’s relationship at first, their love story is actually used to further the mystery behind Roopa’s death and introduce sub-plots with ease. It is not surprising that this is considered Kapoor’s most successful film of his career as he pulls off the role of a smart, resourceful, funny man with ease.
Parekh, as Sunita, is equally arresting, while Helen and Prem Chopra shine in their respective supporting roles.
R.D. Burman’s compelling music
The music of the film, composed by the legendary R.D. Burman, needs special mention. Songs like Aaja Aaja Main Hoon Pyaar Tera, O Haseena Zulfonwali and O Mere Sona Re Sona are party playlist staples even today. These foot-tapping tunes coupled with Kapoor’s signature head-bob — Teesri Manzil was destined to be a hit.
The movie was also a mystery in real life. It became increasingly clear, years after the film’s release, that the version available on VHS tapes and DVDs was 30-minute short of the original run-time of 175 minutes. That 30 minutes, which included one song, have not been retrieved so far.
A script that many directors or actors wouldn’t have touched went on to become a huge hit and shape Kapoor’s career trajectory.
Starting out as a struggling actor, despite hailing from the illustrious Kapoor family, Shammi Kapoor found his feet in the film industry only after a decade into his career — with non-traditional scripts and a fantastic feel for music and dance.
In a sense, this film is representative of Kapoor himself.