The story is about Hiraman, a rustic villager from a remote village in Araria (Bihar), who drives a bullock cart to earn his livelihood. The story begins with Hiraman taking two consecutive vows based on the difficult situations he had to undergo, before he meets a nautanki dancer, Hirabai. The story soon transforms into the story of the friendship between a bullock cart driver and an urban nautanki dancer. The movie, finally, ends with Hiraman taking the third vow.
Hiraman (Raj Kapoor) is a bullock cart driver with conservative traditional values. While smuggling illegal goods on his bullock cart and close escape from police, Hiraman takes vow (first Kasam) to never carry illegal goods again in his cart. While transporting bamboo for timber trader on his bullock cart, he is beaten by two men when their horse upsets by bamboos of Hiramanâs cart. After that incident, Hiraman takes another vow (second Kasam) to never carry bamboo again in his cart.
One night, Hiraman asked to carry Hirabai (Waheeda Rehman), a nautanki dancer as a passenger to the 40 miles distance to the village fair. As they travel together Hiraman sings to pass the time and tells her story of the legend of Mahua. As the journey progresses, Hirabai is mesmerized by the Hiramanâs innocence and his simple philosophy of life. Hiraman in return sees her as angel of purity.
Once they reached village fair, Hiraman joins with his band of bullock car drivers and Hirabai joins the nautanki company. Hirabai asks Hiraman to stay at village fair for few days to see her dance. Hirabai arranges free passes for Hiraman and his friends to see nautanki for every night as long as village fair runs.
As Hiraman attends nautanki, he comes to aware that other people see her as prostitute and it disturbs him. He tries to shield her and protect her from society. The bond between two grows stronger as the day passes at fair. He gets involved in fights with local people who speak against her and her profession. Hirabai tries to make him understand the harsh reality of her life. Hiraman asks her to leave her profession and start living respectable life. Hirabai refuses to leave her acting career. Depressed Hiraman leaves village fair and returns to his village.
In the mean time, Hirabai understands Hiramanâs unselfish love. Hirabai meets Hiraman and reveals her past secret that she has been already sold and she is no longer virgin beauty. Hirabai returns to her hometown. After seeing Hirabai going away from his life, Hiraman takes third vow (teesri Kasam) to never carry nautanki company dancer again in his cart.
Analysis Basu Bhattacharyaâs Teesri Kasam is simple, soulful, and sensible saga based on Phanishwar Nathâs short story âMare Gaye Gulfamâ. Teesri Kasam is poignant study of cultural clashes of lower-middle class and upper-middle class in early 20th century India. Hiraman grew up in traditional lower-middle class with conservative values and Hirabai grew up in modern upper-middle class with liberal values. One of the most impressive aspects about movie is how its plot unfolds and how it treats two different culture clashes. Movieâs story moves at a leisurely yet captivating pace establishing the characters and rustic ambience. The way Hiraman and Hirabai meets, talks, getting closer to each other, and the manner in which they get apart are real heartbeats of this film.
Even though Indiaâs first color film, Raj Kapoorâs Sangam (1964) was released two years ago, producer Shailendra and director Basu Bhattacharya wanted this movie in B&W to give it a traditional old-era feel. Subrata Mitraâs B&W cinematography provides unique insight into early 20th century rural India. From the very first scene to the last scene, Teesri Kasam remains seamlessly flawless in portraying the society of the rural North-India.
Raj Kapoor as an innocent, naive, simple-minded bullock cart driver and Waheeda as a sweet-faced, village nautanki dancer features one of the best performances of their respective career and leaves their everlasting stamp on the film. Raj Kapoorâs blushing with "Ishh" and Waheedaâs trademark simple beauty and refreshingly natural style of acting are true hallmark of this enterprise.
Shankar Jaikishanâs legendary score over Shailendraâs lyrics is considered as one of the greatest music compositions in Hindi cinema - Chalat Musafir Moh Liya Re, Duniya Bananewale Kya Tere Man, Asha Bhosleâs legendary folk song - Paan Khaye Sainyaan Hamaro, Mukeshâs classic song - Sajan Re Jhooth Mat Bolo, Sajanwa Bairee Ho Gaye Humaar, Maare Gaye Gulfaam, and traditional folk song celebrating arrival of new bride in north indian village - Lali Lali Doliya Mein Lali Re Dulhaniya, Piya Ki Piyari Bholi Bhali Re Dulhaniya. Among them folk songs like Maare Gaye Gulfaam and Paan Khaye Sainyaan Hamaro showcases Waheeda as a free flowing stage dancer.
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