Many reviews have been written for the classic murder mystery Teesri Manzil (1966), the movie which is considered a milestone in the journey of musical suspense thrillers made in Bollywood. That brilliant movie boasts of very good script (Nasir Hussain), direction (Vijay Anand), music (R.D. Burman) and above all, Shammi Kapoor, the legendary hero who changed the rules made for a Bollywood movie hero during the sixties and accordingly the perception of the audience in this regard. Sixties was undoubtedly the decade of Late Shammi Kapoor who is still loved and missed by the Hindi movie audience and Teesri Manzil is a milestone movie of his career.When Late Gulshan Kumar, the so-called audio cassette king had earned a lot of money through his business of music which mainly contained the cover versions of the golden oldies from Hindi movies(prepared in the voices of newcomer singers), he decided to launch his younger brother Krishan Kumar as a hero in Hindi cinema. He did so perhaps out of the affection of an elder brother because Krishan Kumar did not possess the personality of a typical Bollywood hero. Anyway, when the hero has been selected, naturally, a story is also required to make a feature film. So Gulshan Kumar probably arranged a video cassette of Teesri Manzil (compact discs had not been invented by that time) and gave it to writer Pawan Sethi to prepare a script on the lines of that classic musical suspense thriller. The result of that exercise came out in the form of the script of Aaja Meri Jaan (1993).Thus Aaja Meri Jaan (come, my sweetheart) is a suspense movie which is nothing but a remake of Teesri Manzil. It’s been directed by Ketan Anand, the son of the legendary director Chetan Anand and it features Shammi Kapoor also in a supporting role. A newcomer girl Taanya Singh was given a break as the heroine of this movie. Several songs got prepared by Gulshan Kumar for the music album, hiring the services of many music directors including the legendary Pancham Da (R.D. Burman) himself who had prepared the unforgettable gems for Teesri Manzil decades back. And finally the movie was released for the Indian audience with a lot of hype and publicity. However the wise Indian audience immediately caught that this movie was nothing but the old wine known as Teesri Manzil in a new bottle and this launch-pad of Krishan Kumar got only a lukewarm response from the public.
This suspense movie opens with the scene of a murder only. The victim is the priest of a temple who is stabbed to death by someone. Cut to the scene of the local police station where another gentleman (Pran) clad in a priest-like clothes only visits the concerned officer to inquire about the progress of the police in the quest of the murderer and he gets the standard reply of Indian police that they are on the job. Now our smart young hero Chaand Kapoor (Krishan Kumar) who appears to be having the aptitude of a skirt-chaser, comes into picture. His father (Shammi Kapoor) is already facing financial problems and his extravagant nature only aggravates them. Chaand comes into contact with the heroine (Taanya Singh) and falls for her charms. However she is aggrieved by her elder sister’s untimely death and is more interested in finding out her murderer than getting into any love affair. The twist in this confused love story comes when the heroine comes to know that it’s the hero only claiming to be her lover, who might be having a hand in her sister’s death. Things are further complicated by the activities of a smuggling gang. Finally our hero is able to lift curtain from every mystery of this story and unmask the culprits behind the smuggling exercise as well as the murders that have taken place. Quite expectedly, now the heroine falls into his arms for good.The script has been written by picking the basic grains and the story framework from Teesri Manzil by making some peripheral changes here and there. However the writer as well as the director of this movie could not use the brilliant story idea properly to make a good suspense thriller. The story starts with a murder but soon the focus shifts on the philandering and carefree activities of the hero who appears a loafer from his face and gestures. To confuse the audience regarding the identity of the culprit, too many angles and tracks have been forced into the narrative which exhaust more and entertain less. The revelation of the identity of the principal criminal (the boss of the smugglers’ gang) does not create any sensation for the audience. Still courtesy the quality of the original story idea, the movie has not been reduced to something like crap. Overall, it’s endurable for any regular movie buff (provided he has not seen Teesri Manzil already).
Music which was a very big plus point of Teesri Manzil, is a minus point of this movie. Too many songs have been forced into the narrative blocking its flow and thus irritating the viewer because none of them is a quality song which the audience may like to remember after the movie. Too many music directors have been assigned the job of composing music for this movie and the maxim of ‘Too many cooks spoil the dish‘ appears to have come true for it.
Technically the movie is okay. Gulshan Kumar had spent generously for this launching pad of his younger brother. Length is on the higher side. Gulshan Kumar and the editor of this movie would have obliged the audience a lot, had they removed some songs and curtailed the length of the movie.
Performances wise talking, the supporting cast including the baddies, has done well. Taanya Singh could not be Asha Parekh (the heroine of Teesri Manzil) and thankfully, she did not do any other movie in her career. For Krishan Kumar, let me say that Gulshan Kumar forgot that Shammi Kapoor was not helped in any way by his elder brother Raj Kapoor when he was trying to make his career as a romantic hero. Shammi Kapoor was a self-made person. Here despite all the support from Gulshan Kumar, Krishan Kumar could not create a Shammi Kapoor of Teesri Manzil here. The shoes of the legendary romantic hero proved to be too big for him. He appears to overact a lot while trying to copy the style of Shammi Kapoor (and falling flat on his face in this bid). Designer clothes and borrowed style cannot convert a crow into a swan. This movie could not establish Krishan Kumar as a durable hero in the industry but benefitted him in a different way. Romance bloomed between himself and Taanya Singh during the making of this movie and Taanya went ahead to become Krishan Kumar’s wife in due course of time.
Despite several weaknesses, this Bollywood potboiler is not bad as a one time watch in my opinion. Hence I recommend it to the regular Hindi movie buffs especially those who are fond of watching mysteries.
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