This year will perhaps go down in history as one that saw the release of maximum double role-based Hindi films. Bipasha Basu's 'Alone' was the first such movie this year followed by 'Roy', in which Jacqueline Fernandez was seen in a dual role. Up next is Kangna Ranaut's 'Tanu Weds Manu Returns' which will have the actress starring as the London-returned Tanuja and then in an additional role of a Haryanvi athlete called Kusum. While double roles have been an intermittent feature of Bollywood since the days of yore, Bollywood seems to be going big on it this year. hitlist looks at how filmmakers are relying on this tried and tested formula...
Kangna Ranaut plays a double role in her upcoming film, 'Tanu Weds Manu Returns'
On the starway
Almost every double role film featuring any of the three Khans of the industry have always hit the bull's eye with Shah Rukh's 'Duplicate' being the only lone exception to this unofficial thumb rule. This year, we will see two Shah Rukh Khans in 'Fan' and two Salman Khans in 'Prem Ratan Dhan Payo' — assuming that the latter, who is facing a five-year jail term in the 2002 hit-and-run case, is allowed to finish work on his film before his possible incarceration.
Bipasha Basu (above) was seen in contrasting avatars in 'Alone 3D' while the dual role essayed by Jacqueline Fernandez (below) was that of a movie director and an art enthusiast
"It's a win-win situation for both directors and the audience as the latter gets to see two for the price of one," says Vijay Krishna Acharya aka Victor, who directed Aamir Khan in a double role in 'Dhoom 3'.
Not just the Khans, even other stars like Hrithik Roshan ('Krrish') and Akshay Kumar ('Rowdy Rathore'), too, have tasted great success by essaying double role characters. "All top stars have played double roles successfully," points out distributor Ramesh Sippy and adds, "Be it Dilip Kumar in Ram Aur Shyam, Anil Kapoor in Kishen Kanhaiya in his peak days, Hema Malini in Seeta Aur Geeta, top stars always make it interesting for the audience to see them in a double role."
Narrative holds the key
Just like content is always the king, double role scripts too have to be manoeuvered to fit into the narrative of the film. Explains Victor, "Dhoom ended up being a successful double role film after long because we broke all established grammar of the audience as far as consumption of a film went. Both of Aamir's characters were radically different from one another lending the film an element of mystery, which ultimately gave it great leverage. The audience will enjoy a double role story only if it is brought out organically in the narrative."
The suspense element created by the imposter other also excites audience in a double role-oriented film. "In a film where there are two identical heroes and one heroine, the heroine ends up getting confused who she is really in love with and that keeps the viewers hooked," emphasizes Sippy.
While double roles were in vogue right from the early 60s, superior VFX effects today has only pushed the envelope further as far the evolution of such roles in Bollywood is concerned. Says trade analyst Komal Nahta, "The technology used today is far superior which makes it easy to shoot such scenes. Earlier, shots were taken with the help of a duplicate, but today the same is not required with neat technology at hand."
Shah Rukh Khan (above) will be seen as a superstar as well as a crazy fan in Maneesh Sharma's Fan and (below) Aamir Khan played a double role in 'Dhoom 3'
Bhushan Patel, who directed Bipasha in a twin role in 'Alone 3D', concurs, "It's a boon to have such enriched VFX laced effects. It enabled me to create the right double role effect that I needed for my film with great ease. And it looks relatable too as opposed to the olden days of filmmaking."
While double roles have usually been the fiefdom of male superstars in B-Town, all eyes are on Kangna Ranaut to break into the league with 'Tanu Weds Manu Returns'. The National Award-winning actress sports separate looks for her twin avatars in the film. Trade pundits unanimously feel that she could well be the game changer among female actors doing double roles. Sippy says, "Kangna playing a double role will be a departure from what we have seen of her so far. The treatment in case of a female actor will be different, and so will the audience's reaction."