Bollywood has experienced character trends like no other film industry. With the massive quotient of suspense, drama, emotion, thrill and every other detectable feeling poured on screen, characters embodied by them have made for the Hall of Fame in every Bollywood lover's heart!
So with the season, there comes one typical character fit in that every director, filmmaker wants to see in his film. And evidently, flavour of the season is 'Double role'!
Sparked back to life after a sabbatical of sorts with Akhay Kumar's recent box-office hit 'Rowdy Rathore', the twin formula has been conspicuous in cinema for ages now.
The kinds of double role are as different as the stories themselves. Some have been a twin story (Hema Malini in 'Seeta aur Geeta', David Dhawan's 'Judwaa', Kamal Hassan's Apu Raaja, Shahid in the recent 'Kaminey' etc), the rebirth tale (Vyjanthimala and Dilip Kumar in 'Madhumati', Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone in 'Om Shanti Om', Salman Khan in 'Suryavanshi') or simply, a case of lookalikes causing chaos (Govinda and Amitabh Bachchan in 'Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan', Dev Anand in 'Hum Dono', Hrithik Roshan in 'Kaho na Pyaar Hai' and SRK again in 'Duplicate' etc) Even family members looking alike have been portrayed in Bollywood, like Anil Kapoor in 'Virasat', Raj Kumar in 'Karamyogi', Hrithik Roshan in 'Krrish' etc.
What is it about this dual role formula that connects with the audience so much?
“It is entertaining and interesting for the audience,” explains movie-maker David Dhawan, whose flicks involving double-roles like Judwaa, Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan, Aankhen, Bol Radha Bol have made audiences laugh off their seats. He further adds, “They get confused as to who is right and who is wrong.” While mentioning how most characters who are portrayed by contracting attributes like bold and timid, villainous and heroic, flamboyant and suppressed, he adds, “It is a tagda (strong) formula. These are easy stories and we have the advantage of technique today, but one needs emotional situations for the film to work.” Trade expert Komal Nahata reckons that it has to do with the drama of revenge and reincarnation, as expressed so much by Hindu scriptures. “It's exhilarating for the audience when the hero comes back and takes revenge,” he says, “People believe in rebirth, and double role is just a variation.”
While adding to the screen-space for the actor/actress, this double-role formula gives fans a lot more time to lap up their favourite actors. Besides, most of the double-role scripts have worked wonders for the cash registers. Hrithik Roshan's debut 'Kaho Na Pyaar Hai' was a gamble his father Rakesh Roshan invested in, and did it work! But we also see that most double-roles are played by male lead actors. What explains this phenomenon? Is it too much of stress on the actresses?
Says screenplay writer Danish Raza, “Double role is nothing but an excuse to create a vehicle which is entire dependent on the fueling power of the male lead star. (In Anil Kapoor's Kishan Kanhaiya) there was no revenge drama, there was no rebirth and yet it was a hit, perhaps because Anil Kapoor was at his peak then.”
So long as Bollywood keeps delivering entertainers, with or without two times the actors, we're content with the awesome masala it offers!