The best Raj Kapoor movie, but it’s not by Raj Kapoor

In 1988, a doyen of Bollywood, Raj Kapoor passed away. Doordarshan TV, on the same evening itself, broadcast one of his movies on national television as a tribute.

One would have expected to see a Raj Kapoor signature film such as Awaara, Barsaat , Shree 420 or perhaps even his own personal opus Mera Naam Joker. Doordarshan’s choice, however, surpassed them all. It chose to telecast Teesri Kasam, a movie made not by Raj Kapoor, but by Basu Bhattacharjee, with Raj Kapoor in a leading role.

Teesri Kasam is now regarded as one of the classics of hindi cinema. It paired Raj Kapoor with Waheeda Rehman in a very unconventional story with some wonderful music, financed by the great lyricist Shailendra (its box office failure destroyed him). Raj Kapoor’s acting is par excellence, perhaps better than in any of his own movies, backed by a fine performance by Waheeda Rehman.

I still remember watching the movie and being completely absorbed in the story about the developing relationship between a simple bullock cart driver (Raj Kapoor) and his beautiful passenger (Waheeda Rehman), a nautanki performer. The songs were exceptionally beautiful, with a mix of folk songs, poems and nautanki. The nautanki song, Maare gaye gulfam is also the title of the short story on which this movie is based.

The 2 songs that I still remember vividly are opposite in mood, but carry the same element of rustic folk about them.

Lali Lali Doliya is a Bhojpuri folk song from Bihar. Watch Raj Kapoor’s expressions and the use of shadow on Waheeda Rehman.

Sajanwa Bairi is a haunting melody, sung exquisitely by Mukesh. Again, Raj Kapoor conveys an entire story through some excellent acting.

For more on the movie, has this detailed review of Teesri Kasam.
Teesri Kasam Upperstall Review


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