This post is two weeks late. Late, because it’s a tribute to the actress Kalpana, who passed away on January 4 this year. I didn’t get to know about her death till the 8th, and then – though I did want to do a tribute post – I couldn’t think of a film I hadn’t reviewed, and liked well enough to want to review. (Two of my favourite films – Professor and Pyaar Kiye Jaa – starred Kalpana, but I’ve already reviewed them. And other Kalpana films I’ve seen include Naughty Boy and Saheli – both of which I found almost impossible to sit through). Last weekend, in desperation, I watched Teesra Kaun, thinking I’d review that; but that was a disappointment too. So, finally: an old classic. Not a great film, but very pretty. And a good Kalpana showcase.
Teen Deviyaan starts off to commentary by Ameen Sayani, as the camera moves through Bombay’s streets, showing love blooming – and sometimes nipped in the bud.
On one of these streets, the pretty Nanda (Nanda; all the main characters in Teen Deviyaan bear the names of the actors who play them) finds herself being – as she sees it – followed. The man, Dev Dutt Anand (Dev Anand), has been sitting in the bus beside her, and has bought a ticket for Dalhousie (after she’s bought one):
…and has now even followed her into the boarding house where she lives. At this point, Nanda loses her temper and yells at Dev, threatening to call the police. Instead, her shouting attracts the attention of the boarding house’s owners, Mr Pinto (Harindranath Chattopadhyay) and his wife (Ruby Myers). Mr and Mrs Pinto assure Nanda that she’s misunderstood this; Dev is their new lodger.
Nanda is sheepish and embarrassed. But Dev forgives her readily – and even sings a lovely song, quite apparently aimed at her, though he’s in his room and she’s in hers, watching each other only through a gap.
Within a couple of days, they’re good friends. In fact, Nanda is pretty much in love with Dev. He flirts with her, is sweet to her, even goes off on a day trip into the countryside with her.
Meanwhile, Dev has begun working at Merry Musical Stores. It’s been a shaky start – his boss, I S Johar (I S Johar, of course) flies off the handle when Dev turns up late on the very first day. But one day, I S Johar happens to come across a poem that Dev’s written and is so impressed that he quickly forgives Dev all his shortcomings and prays that Dev’s poems will soon get published. Hopefully some of Dev’s subsequent fame will rub off onto Merry Musical Stores too.
One evening, Dev’s sitting on a bench in a park when a passing car goes hurtling through a puddle, and Dev is liberally splashed. He calls out to the driver – a woman (Kalpana) – that something’s fallen off her car. Curious, she reverses, then gets out of the car to have a look around.
…giving Dev an opportunity to have his revenge for the drenching he received. He’s been fiddling with a hosepipe all this while, and now turns it on her, leaving her wet. And furious.
Even worse, when she gets into her car and tries to start it, it won’t start. Soon, a bunch of stragglers has collected. Instead of helping her, they spend all their time ogling her and passing comments. Finally, Dev takes pity on her and offers to attend to her car; the engine kicks in immediately, and Dev takes it upon himself to drive her to her home. She makes it quite clear that she doesn’t want his help, but Dev insists, and leaves her with no option but to agree.
By the time he gets her home – having draped his coat over her wet and shivering shoulders – this mysterious lady is rather more kindly disposed towards Dev, though she doesn’t show it. However, when he’s gone and she’s changing out of her wet clothes, she looks fondly down at his coat… and sees his notebook of poems sticking out of the pocket. She has a look through it.
And in the next scene, I S Johar has a piece of very good news to share with Dev: his book of poems has been accepted by a publisher! The first proof copies have arrived! Dev has arrived! I S Johar will be sending out copies to some of Merry Musical Stores’ clients.
One of these is the wealthy and influential socialite Radharani ‘Simi’ (Simi Garewal). Simi has received a copy of Dev’s book of poems and is completely bowled over by them. Dev happens to come to her home to deliver a piano and tune it for her. She, lying on the sofa, begins to exult over the poetry she’s been reading, and Dev owns up to being the poet.
Then, a couple of days later, a lady resurfaces in Dev’s life: the unknown woman to whom he had lent his coat. She’s in her car again, and offers him a lift.
It turns out that this woman is Kalpana, and she’s a famous actress. Her life’s a whirl of men trying to flatter her, making promises of laying their hearts at her feet, and so on. Dev’s failure to even recognise her has endeared him to her. She likes his candour, and the fact that he treats her as a friend, not as an idol.
She’s even bought him a new coat, which she hands over to him in the car, insisting that he wear it in exchange for his old coat.
And that isn’t the only time they meet. One day, Kalpana wheedles Dev into accompanying her for a shoot in the countryside. They have a minor mishap along the way, the car goes into a ditch, and Dev and Kalpana spend an interesting day getting to know the locals…
But remember that there are three ladies in this saga. Simi now comes back into the picture, with an invitation to a party at her home. Dev is reluctant to go, but I S Johar persuades him. Simi is vastly influential; she knows everybody worth knowing. She can give his writing career the boost it needs. Dev must go.
So Dev goes. He is an instant success. And he manages to convince both Simi and Kalpana that the dreamily romantic song he’s singing is for her.
Then, there’s Kalpana. Successful, popular, a famous face – but with a sadness in her eyes, which Dev correctly guesses to be loneliness. Kalpana admits it to him, too; she has seen the superficiality of the life that surrounds her, and she longs for someone to truly understand her, as a person, not just a beautiful face. Will Dev be that person?
What I liked about this film:
The music. This is one of my favourite S D Burman scores: an array of delightful songs, each better than the next. My personal favourite of these songs is Khwaab ho tum ya koi haqeeqat, followed closely by Arre yaar meri tum bhi ho gazab. Likha hai teri aankhon mein kiska afsaana and Aise toh na dekho are also very good songs, though I’m not as fond of either Uff kitni thandi hai yeh rut or Kahin bekhayaal hokar.
Oh, the prettiness. The teen devis, of course; and Dev Anand – and some familiar faces, now and then.
I last watched this film years ago on Doordarshan, and was left feeling disappointed. This time round, older and wiser, I thought I’d be better able to appreciate it. No such luck. The problem with Teen Deviyaan is that the story is too simple, the screenplay too flat to really hold your interest for long. Dev goes out with girl #1, and they sing a song. Dev goes out with girl #2, and they sing a song. Dev goes out with girl#3, and they sing a song. Dev cannot make up his mind whom he wants to spend the rest of his life with.
This would’ve been interesting if there had been better, more intense character development – or a peppier plot. Unfortunately, the film meanders from one Dev-and-girl rendezvous to another, and becomes increasingly tedious in the process. Nanda and Simi are pretty one-dimensional: Nanda is sweet and homey, Simi is elegant and wealthy. Of the three, the only one who may be interesting (though it isn’t taken any further) is Kalpana, the successful actress who hides a sad, lonely heart behind a laughing, flirting exterior.
Which, I suppose, does make Teen Deviyaan a Kalpana film – and a fitting tribute to the actress. RIP, Kalpana.
Teen Deviyaan is mainly in black and white, but with some scenes – towards the end of the film – in colour. These have been edited out of the Shemaroo DVD/VCD. I do remember these scenes having been part of the film when I watched them back in the good old days, and they form a critical part of the film. If you don’t find these in the film, don’t blame the director (Amar Jeet); blame whichever video production churned out that disc.