Why You Should Watch Vijay Anand’s 1966 Thriller Teesri Manzil

The first film that Vijay Anand directed from a script that he didn’t write himself is a true meeting of style and substance
Why You Should Watch Vijay Anand’s 1966 Thriller Teesri Manzil

This month on FC Flashback. we are celebrating the films of Vijay Anand and I'm excited to share with you one of my favorites – Teesri Manzil.

Teesri Manzil begins with a car speeding down a curving road. We don't know who is driving. Before the opening credits are over, we have a dead body, suspects and a terrific mystery. It's hard to believe that Vijay Anand directed this film just one year after making the iconic Guide. The drama and searing emotion of that film are replaced here by thrills and suspense.

But first you have to get past some lame comedy in a train and a hare-brained plot twist about a woman's hockey team trying to beat up the prime suspect, the drummer Rocky, played by a wonderfully louche Shammi Kapoor. Sunita, played by Asha Parekh, comes to find her sister's killer but ends up falling in love instead. Meanwhile, all sorts of sinister-looking men hover around, including the fabulously creepy Prem Chopra playing the dead girl's fiancé and the always entertaining K. N Singh and Iftekar.

If the mystery doesn't grab you, the music will. Teesri Manzil was the breakthrough album for R. D. Burman. The composer created an original blend of rock, jazz and Latino music that had never been heard in a Hindi film before. His tunes combined with Majrooh Sultanpuri's lyrics and Vijay Anand's extraordinary picturization makes each song a classic. Does any contemporary song sequence compare to this?

The sub-text of Teesri Manzil is voyeurism. So much of the film is about watching. Characters are constantly eavesdropping on each other. Vijay Anand creates a shadowy world where killers lurk in corridors and even love can be poisonous – Helen, in gloves and furs, as the dancer Ruby is delightful! When she looks longingly at Rocky and purrs, "Hi, Stranger!", you know that nothing good will come of it.

Teesri Manzil was the first film that Vijay Anand directed from a script that he didn't write himself. It was written by the iconic Nasir Hussain who also produced the film. But the director's prints are everywhere – check out the shot in which you see Rocky and Ruby through a revolver.

A true meeting of style and substance! You can watch the film on YouTube.

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