The concept of double roles is not only unique to Indian cinema, but has also played a significant part in the history of our 100-year old film industry. When the same actor/actress gets to play double/triple/multiple roles in the same film, it gives them a wonderful opportunity to display their prowess in a variety of characters- as a parent and child, siblings with negative and positive shades, as identical twins, as part of a reincarnation saga or at other times just a doppelganger who becomes part of the plot to generate excitement and interest among the audience.
Hindi cinema has a rich repertoire of double role films and different actors during different eras have added their own charm and interpretation to bring the characters alive on screen. For the audience it is double the fun to see their favourite actor/actress in more than one role and hence it is added dose of fun and excitement for them.
This post concentrates on songs from some of the double-role films wherein both the roles essayed by the actor/actress are part of a song picturization. This is not a common occurrence because not all double-role films have stories whereby both the characters can be seen simultaneously on screen. For instance if they are playing parent and child then at times the second character appears only after the death of the other. Similarly in films dealing with reincarnation it is difficult to show the actors in different births together in one frame on screen.
In this blog-post I have put together some interesting songs where the different roles played by the actor/actress are visible either singing together or they are present in the same song. There is also a brief write-up about their characters and the context in the plot where the song appears. For some of the songs the blog links may not open directly but please click on the YouTube link which appears to enjoy the song.
I start the blog with one of my all-time favourite films which remains unique till today for its story, characters, direction and of course acting by the child artiste Baby Sonia (Neetu Singh), who plays the main protagonist.
Film – DO KALIYAN : Baby Sonia (Neetu Singh) (1968)
This super-hit film released in 1968 was a remake of the 1965 Tamil original Kuzandaiyum Deivamum which itself was based on the British film Twice Upon a Time and the 1961 movie The Parent Trap. The plot deals with identical twin sisters whose are separated at birth and grow up with one of the parents without knowing the existence of the other parent or the other sister. They study in the same school where people cannot help noticing the uncanny similarity of their features. Their temperaments are different and after the initial fighting is over, they realize they are identical twins. Soon they decide to switch places to meet the other parent and also hatch a plan to reunite their parents. A thoroughly entertaining film which made Baby Sonia a household name overnight. All the songs were hits.
The song chosen here shows the sisters in the same class. This evergreen song remains a favourite even today for the tune as well as the superb lyrics and of course Lata Mangeshkar’s exemplary singing.
Song : ‘Bachche man ke sachche…’
Film- KUCH KHATTI KUCH MEETHI : Kajol (2001)
This film has a story of identical twin sisters switching places very similar to Do Kaliyan but here the girls are much older. Kajol gets to play the twin sisters one of whom grows up with her mother in London while the other grows up with her alcoholic dad in India. Rati Agnohotri who played the mother returned to big screen after a gap of 16 years and had Rishi Kapoor opposite her as the father off the twin girls.
The song here is when they are overjoyed to meet each other and soon decide to switch places and also try to patch up things between their parents.
Song: ‘Kuch Kuch Khatti Kuch kuch meethi…’
Film- DO BEHNE : Shyama (1959)
This film had the talented actress Shyama in the role of two sisters with different personalities. While the boisterous one falls into bad company and is ditched by her male friend, the docile one falls in love with Rajendra Kumar and gets married to him. By a quirk of fate one of the sisters gets killed and the other has to take her place. It’s a film which I chanced upon by luck and found it to be quite enjoyable.
This song which comes right in the beginning of the film straightaway establishes the characters of the two sisters.
Song: ‘Main natkhat ek kali…’
Film – AAMNE SAAMNE : Mithun Chakravorty (1982)
Directed by Shakti Samanta’s son Ashim Samanta, the plot idea had shades of his father’s B&W film China Town where a look-alike simpleton (Gopi) is made to impersonate a smart and ruthless smuggler (Johnny). Gopi and Johny meet each other when the simpleton comes from the village to town in search of a job and Johny decides employ Gopi to work for him. He fools him by convincing him to agree for a complete transformation to look like Johny himself and manages to fool the police for a while.
This song comes in the film when the training period is over and the transformation is so perfectly done that everyone in the room is left wondering as to who is the actual ‘Johnny’ and who is the imposter!
Song: ‘Tu mai ban gaya mai tu ban gaya…’
Film – HASEENA MAAN JAAYEGI : Shashi Kapoor (1968)
Directed by Prakash Mehra this film had one of the most entertaining plots ever written for a double-role film. Shashi Kapoor plays look-alikes Kamal and Rakesh and both are in love with the heroine Babita. All three study in the same college but Babita loves the poor and honest Kamal as opposed to the rich brat and her father’s friend’s son Rakesh who leaves no stone unturned to woo her. The plot turns interesting when both of them get enrolled in the army when War breaks out but during a scuffle one of them is killed while the other returns home to the wife Babita.
Not only does the heroine keep mistaking one for the other, many a time even the audience is left confused making it a challenge even for us as to who returns from the War. The song chosen here comes in the beginning when she invites both to the club by mistake and even in the song her confusion is very clear and interestingly so is ours.
Song: ‘Dilbar dilbar kehte kehte…’
Film- GORA AUR KALA : Rajendra Kumar (1972)
This super-hit film of 1972 had Rajendra Kumar in the double role of royal twins separated at birth. When the King is murdered by his supposedly trusted commander, both the new-born princes escape from the palace albeit with different people. They had been conjoined at birth and the operation performed leaves one of the twins with a paralyzed left arm and dark skin owing to a blood disorder. As the royal doctor who escapes the palace ends up being caught by a dacoit, this Rajendra Kumar grows up to be a dacoit. The other one is normal and grows up with the King’s loyal minister in a village. There are some very well-choreographed sword-fights and the dacoit Rajendra Kumar comes up with an excellent performance.
A unique thing about the film is that even though there are two heroines both of them love Hema Malini while Rekha’s love for the dacoit remains one-sided. The song here is sung when their true identity is revealed and they are united with each other and their mother.
Song: ‘Ek gora ek kala…’
Film- JIGRI DOST : Jeetendra (1969)
A delightful family entertainer where Jeetendra entertains in the double role of look-alikes. For a change both are good and kind-hearted and there is no smuggler/thief angle here. One of them is an illiterate villager and the other an upcoming lawyer and they end up in the same house. Once the two of them realize they look identical they manage to trick the people around for a while before the truth is revealed. The villain in the film is K N Singh who had murdered the lawyer Jeetendra’s father years ago.
The song chosen here is sung when both the Jeetendras go to meet their respective lovers- Mumtaz for the villager and Komal for the lawyer. Incidentally Komal is actually Shatrughan Sinha’s wife Poonam Sinha who acted in a few films under the name of Komal before she decided to give up acting.
Song: ‘Phool hai bahaaron ka…’
Film – SACHCHA JHOOTA : Rajesh Khanna (1970)
Director Manmohan Desai delivered a delightful entertainer replete with action, thrills, comedy and emotion which deservedly fetched Rajesh Khanna his first Filmfare Best Actor award. He plays two look-alikes-an honest village simpleton Bhola and a ruthless diamond smuggler Ranjit. After the initial shock of seeing his doppelganger, Ranjit devises the ingenious plan whereby he convinces Bhola to masquerade as Ranjit which helps him to both fool the police as well as to carry on with his nefarious activities without suspicion.
The song chosen here is picturized at a masquerade party where both the charatcters come together. While Bhola is the one singing the song Ranjit is hidden behind a black mask and cape to escape the police officers Vinod Khanna and Mumtaz who are also disguised as guests at the party.
Song : ‘Dil ko dekho chehra na dekho…’
Film – DOUBLE CROSS : Vijay Anand (1972)
A badly written and directed film starring Vijay Anand getting to play identical looking brothers- Ajay and Vijay. While Vijay is a photographer and in love with Rekha, Ajay after being spurned by his lover takes on a new name Jimmy and turns to smuggling to amass wealth.
This duet sung by Kishore Kumar and Bhupinder is sung by the brothers when life had been simple for them and Ajay had not yet taken the path of crime.
Song: ‘Hum dono ki yaari kya kehna…’
Film – HUM DONO : Dev Anand (1961)
The only film where Dev Anand played a double role as Amar and Major Verma and the film is set in India during wartime. The film as well as its music became a big hit. Amar loves Sadhana and Majaor Verma is married to Nanda. Amar after getting enlisted in the Indian Army is posted under Major Verma who turns out to be his exact look-alike except for an added moustache. When war breaks, Major Verma is reported missing and presumed dead and the onus falls on Amar to convey the news to the Major’s family. But when he goes to their house, he is mistaken to be Amar and as Nanda has a weak he refrains from telling the truth which results in Amar getting caught in a difficult position.
This beautiful song appears in the film when both of them are in a pensive mood thinking about their respective loved ones.
Song : ‘Kabhi khud pe kabhi halaat pe rona aaya…’
Film- HUM DONO : Rajesh Khanna (1985)
This film was a remake of a Telugu film Somokkadidi Sokokkadidi and had Rajesh Khanna playing a poor villager and his look-alike Dr Shekhar who has a flourishing practice. The villager decides to earn a few bucks by impersonating the doctor once he leaves the clinic and pockets whatever money he makes fooling patients by way of treating them. He even falls for the girl who had set her sights on the doctor. After a while the doctor finds out the truth and then confusion follows before everything is sorted out.
In this song the doctor is amused to see his impersonator not only dressed like him but also romancing the girl who had professed her love for the doctor many times.
Song: ‘Tu lajawab bemisaal dilbar yaar…’
Film – MAHAAN : Amitabh Bachchan (1983)
The film had Amitabh Bachchan in a triple role -father and his twin sons with Waheeda Rehman, Parveen Babi and Zeenat Aman as their respective heroines. It has the typical plot of separation in the first few reels and reuniting at the end with a lot of drama in between. Amitabh Bachchan has a whale of a time in all three roles with the narrative written to cater to his ‘star’ image.
In this song sung by Kishore Kumar and Amit Kumar the two sons enter the villain’s den to rescue their father and end up confusing the cronies in the process.
Song: ‘Asli kya hai,naqli kya hai…’
Film – GHAZAB: Dharmendra (1982)
This is a remake of a superb Tamil film Kalyanaraman and had Dharmendra playing a double role as twin brothers. One is a village simpleton with crooked teeth while the other grows up in the city but for a long time they have no idea that they are brothers. In a strange twist of circumstances, the village simpleton is murdered and this ghastly scene is witnessed by his lover played by Rekha who then loses her mental balance. The movie has interesting twists and turns.
The song chosen here has both the brothers though one is the ghost of the village simpleton who is teaching his brother to sing the song he used to sing to her.
Song : ‘Jaaneman, jaane-jigar, jaan-e-tamanna, jaan le…’
Film -DARD : Rajesh Khanna (1981)
This film is a remake of the 1966 classic Mamta but instead of the mother-daughter duo played by Suchitra Sen this film this film alters the script by making Rajesh Khanna play the father-son duo. By a quirk of fate not only is the older Rajesh Khanna unable to marry his lover Hema Malini he is forced to marry another girl and finally ends up in jail by taking the blame of the murder committed by his evil brother-in-law. Meanwhile his wife dies at childbirth and now his son grows up with Hema Malini and becomes a lawyer.
The song chosen here shows both the father and son enjoying some special moments with their special women.
Song: ‘Pyar ka dard hai meetha meetha pyara pyara…’
Film- DIL HI TOH HAI : Jackie Shroff (1982)
This film is another royal saga where Amjad Khan is the King of some remote kingdom in Rajasthan and has twin sons Harshvardhan and Govardhan. For some strange reason right from childhood the King loves only Harshvardhan and wants him to be crowned prince and is therefore made to undergo rigorous training in every department as befitting a . But the prince right from childhood hates this stifled life dull of rules and discipline and behaviour expected from a future prince like him. He envies brother Govardhan’s freedom of getting to go wherever he wants. Govardhan being a little dull in the brain is considered to be a dimwit by all except Harshvardhan who loves his brother.
When he comes to know that his father is expecting him to forcefully marry a princess of his choice Harshvardan decides to exchange places with his brother and run away. But before that he trains him a little bit to walk and act like him. This song is picturized just before he plans his escape.
Song : ‘Chat ke upar do kabootar…’
Film- DUPLICATE : SHAH RUKH KHAN (1998)
Shah Rukh Khan gets to play an interesting double role in this comic thriller where he gets to play the dual role of look-alikes. Bablu is a chef in a restaurant and is in love with the manager Juhi Chawla while Manu his look-alike is a ruthless criminal and has Sonali Bendre as his girlfriend. Manu kills his partner (Gulshan Grover) for betraying him and running away with the loot money and is now being hunted by the police but Bablu ends up getting arrested. When the criminal comes to know of his duplicate he decides to take his place to escape the police and expectedly a lot of confusion ensues.
The song below has both the Shah Rukhs romancing their lady-love but from the looks of it they seem to have ended up with the wrong girls.
Song: ‘Ladna jhagadna jhadake akadna…’
Film- HUMSHAKALS : Saif Ali Khan, Riteish Deshmukh, Ram Kapoor (2014)
This comedy of errors had all three actors in triple role and had some really funny scenes. Unfortunately the film did not do well as it got a lot of flak from the critics for not having much logic. But the film does have its interesting moments where identities are confused and all three act well.
In the song below two sets of the characters can be seen with one set of the trio dressed in drag.
Song: ‘Khol de dil ki khidki…’
Film – HUMJOLI : Mehmood (1970)
Mehmood with his extraordinary talent carved a special niche for himself in the film industry and there was a time when special roles were written for him to showcase this talent. This particular film had him in triple role as grandfather, father and son. He did an amazing imitation of the real life trio of Prithviraj Kapoor-Raj Kapoor -Randhir Kapoor and the scenes became a special highlight of the film. Jeetendra and Leena Chandravarkar were the hero and heroine of the film.
This song has all three coming together on screen with Aruna Irani as the wife of the youngest Mehmood.
Song : ‘Yeh kaisa aaya zamana yeh kaisa…’
Film – WHAT’S YOUR RAASHEE? : Priyanka Chopra (2009)
A unique film directed by Ashutosh Gowarikar which had Priyanka Chopra playing twelve roles. The hero Harman Baweja plans to get married and starts seeing girls in a hope to find the perfect match. He meets twelve girls each of them belonging to a different ‘raashee’ or sign of zodiac with Priyanka playing all the twelve characters. The film was a real challenge for Priyanka Chopra and all credit to her for doing a very fine job of etching out 12 different characters with different traits and mannerisms.
In the song chosen Harman is thinking of all twelve of them before he makes his final decision.
Song : ‘What’s your raashee?….’
Film – CHHICHORE : Sushant Singh Rajput, Shraddha Kapoor, Tahir Raj Bhasin, Navin Polishetty, Tushar Pandey, Varun Grover, Saharsh Kumar Shukla (2019)
This film which released in September 2019 was a delightful entertainer and traced the journey of seven friends from their college days to the time they enter their forties. Both the time frames- the campus caper as well as the scenes when they are older- are directed very well and the actors are very natural.
This is not a film with double roles but for just one song we can see the younger and older versions of the characters coming together simultaneously almost making it look like a double role albeit only for the song. Since the blog-post is about songs and as the idea of the song is really unique and enjoyable I decided to include it in the blog as the last song.
Song: ‘Arrerere pagle fikar not…’
On a personal level I do find the concept of ‘double roles’ really fascinating. Attached here are the links to three of my earlier blog-posts related to this topic :