How Teesri Manzil changed Hindi film music for good

[Book extract] The film marked the marked the beginning of Nasir Husain's collaboration with RD Burman.

 |  4-minute read |   25-12-2016
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Teesri Manzil’s greatest significance in Nasir Husain’s career was that it marked the beginning of his collaboration with Rahul Dev Burman.

RD was the only child born to music composer SD Burman and Meera Dhar Gupta, a classically trained singer and also prolific lyricist who wrote a number of SD’s Bengali songs.

RD, who had assisted his father from very early in his life, made his film debut with Chhote Nawaab (1961). He then gave the music for a few other films, Bhoot Bangla (1965), Teesra Kaun (1965) and Pati Patni (1966).

Although the odd song from these films like “Matwali aankhon waale’ (Chhote Nawaab), “Aao twist karein” (Bhoot Bangla) and “Pyar ka fasaana” (Teesra Kaun) became popular, it’s difficult to believe that RD’s career was poised for far bigger things based on his music for these films. What was not in doubt, though, was his talent.

Pancham’s fifth film turned out to be Teesri Manzil. Both Husain and Vijay Anand were keen on collaborating with the youngster. However, as Anirudha Bhattacharjee and Balaji Vittal detail in their National award-winning book, RD Burman: The Man, The Music, with Shammi Kapoor’s entry into Teesri Manzil, the actor was keen on having either OP Nayyar or Shankar-Jaikishan as composer because their music had been an integral part of Shammi’s successful films.

rd_122516011143.jpg RD Burman with Majrooh Sultanpuri and Nasir Husain. (From left to right)

Aamir Khan also said, “I remember Nasir sa’ab telling me that when Shammi uncle came on to the film, he was very particular about who was doing the music. I think he (Shammi) was keen on Shankar–Jaikishan. Pancham uncle was fairly new at that time. So Nasir sa’ab told Shammi, ‘Trust me. This guy is damn good. And just to satisfy you, I’m going to call him and you hear all the songs’.”

The crucial thing to note over here is that Teesri Manzil’s songs had already been composed by RD and recorded for the film. So when RD sang the songs from the film for Shammi Kapoor at Husain’s house, “Shammi uncle got so excited on hearing the songs that he got up and started dancing,” said Aamir.

That’s how RD became a part of Teesri Manzil. Husain’s role, therefore, in getting Shammi to listen to RD and the subsequent success of the film’s music mean that he deserved as much credit as anyone else.

Aamir agreed. “I would say that the music of Teesri Manzil is of course created by Pancham uncle. Goldie uncle being the director would have interacted very strongly with Pancham uncle. But in this case the producer was as strong musically and the three of them would have worked together. I cannot imagine Nasir Husain being disconnected from the music of Teesri Manzil.”

Mansoor said something similar. “My dad was involved. I don’t know who had the upper hand but I’m pretty sure that my dad was involved to a great degree.”

book_122516011556.jpg Music, Masti, Modernity: The Cinema of Nasir Husain; HarperCollins India; Rs 400.

Teesri Manzil should hence be viewed as a fine coming together of not just Vijay Anand’s and Nasir Husain’s sensibilities, but a film that drew on the talents of Shammi Kapoor, RD Burman, Majrooh Sultanpuri and NV Srinivas (the film’s cinematographer) as well.

It is cinema at its collaborative best. As Bhattacharjee and Balaji wrote of RD’s music, “So even as Vijay Anand was conjuring up the thrills, Pancham was designing his personal blend of rock, jazz, Latino and twist to create a sound, the likes of which was unheard of in the then thirty-five year history of Hindi films.”

In a sense, Teesri Manzil was a film where a kind of “passing-of-the-baton” happened in Husain’s filmmaking. It marked the last time the filmmaker worked with Shammi Kapoor, largely, because of the actor’s dramatic decline (owing to his wife’s death) by the end of the 1960s.

Shammi’s over-the-top persona, so crucial to the spirit of Husain’s films, needed to be replaced by someone with an equal manic energy in his work. That person turned out to be RD Burman, who, beginning with Teesri Manzil, forged a formidable collaboration with Husain right up to the turn of the 1980s.

Together, the filmmaker-composer duo worked on nine films right up to 1985, which defined the very best of Hindi film music for at least the next 15 years.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Also read: Why RD Burman gave his best songs to Lata Mangeshkar, not muse Asha Bhosle


Akshay Manwani Akshay Manwani @akshaymanwani

Author of Music, Masti, Modernity: The Cinema of #NasirHusain. Also Sahir Ludhianvi biographer, Red Ink award winner.

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