TRIPLE ROLES IN BOLLYWOOD

By

Sharada Iyer

To play a triple role in any film is a rare phenomenon for an actor and not every actor gets this unusual opportunity during his/her career. For the actors it is a wonderful challenge to test their acting prowess and make the characters stand out as three different personalities. For the audience it is fun watching their favourite actor/actress in different get-ups playing different characters.

Understandably the story for triple roles does not offer as much variation as that of double roles and most of the time the script revolves around a revenge saga with the actor getting to play the father as well as his twin sons. Sometimes the actor plays identical triplets and sometimes the story may have three identical but unconnected look-alikes and in these cases it may lead to confusion galore or ‘comedy of errors’.

While the industry has been kinder to male actors as far as triple roles are concerned offering them more variety in terms of script to showcase their talent in triple roles, I came across only two instances where heroines have played triple roles. These films did not have scripts where all three were given good footage for them to test their histrionic skill and coincidentally both were reincarnation dramas which released in the same year 1958.

Let us take a look at the actors who got to play amazing triple roles in Hindi cinema:

HEROES

DILIP KUMAR: Bairaag (1970)

Father and twin sons

Bairaag-1976-MovieImg.jpg

Directed by Asit Sen this film had our thespian playing a triple role with panache. A rich businessman, Dilip Kumar is happily married to Ruma Guha (Kishore Kumar’s real-life first wife) but loses his eyesight after a while. Soon they are blessed with twin boys but when he discovers that one of them is born blind, unknown to his wife who is still in a post-delivery unconscious state, he requests his physician friend (played by Dilip Kumar’s real-life brother Nasir Khan) to get rid of the child as he feels the child will have to face too many difficulties. But after some time his guilt creates havoc with his peace of mind till years later he confesses the truth to his wife.

Meanwhile, the child is left at a temple door-step and the priest Nasir Hussain brings up the child as his own. While he grows up to be a kind and honest simpleton and an ardent devotee of Lord Shiva, the other son who grows up with Dilip Kumar turns out to be a typical rich spoilt brat who is unscrupulous and a womanizer. Halfway down the film, by a quirk of fate the blind son gets back his eyesight and reaches the city and there are confrontation scenes between the three ‘Dilip Kumars’. Prem Chopra is the chief villain and there is also a murder plot as Helen gets killed. Dilip Kumar is simply brilliant in all three roles bringing finely etched nuances to each character.

AMITABH BACHCHAN: Mahaan (1983)

Father and twin sons

mahaan

Directed by S Ramanathan, Superstar Amitabh Bachchan takes on the challenge of playing three roles but at 2 hrs 52mins the film ends up being a bit too long! The father Amitabh is an honest lawyer but wily Amjad Khan pretending to be his friend gets him wrongly charged with Sujit Kumar’s murder because of which Amitabh runs away and takes on a new identity. Meanwhile wife Waheeda delivers twin boys but the lady doctor agrees to give one of the babies to a drama actor Mukri who is childless. He also grows up to be an actor in the drama company and the third Amitabh who is brought up by the mother grows up to be an honest police inspector.

Amitabh manages to enact the three characters with a lot of variation and there are interesting confrontation scenes between the different ‘Amitabhs’ to entertain the audience.

MITHUN CHAKRABORTHY: Rangbaaz (1996)

Three different look-alike

rangbaaz

Mithun Chakravorty gets the chance to play a triple role in this Kanti Shah directed film which turned out to be a D-grade version of the super-hit Tridev. He plays Inspector Kundan, happy-go-lucky Kishen and a Robin Hood type of villager Banarsi helping the poor and needy. All three of them experience disillusionment at the hands of the corrupt policemen and politicians and decide to come together to avenge the system. Though the idea was not bad, the execution was pathetic and the terrible heroines and useless songs were a big distraction.

RAM KAPOOR, SAIF KHAN, RITEISH DESHMUKH: Humshakals (2014)

Three sets of look-alikes

humshakals.jpgThis Sajid Khan directed comedy had the talented trio of Saif Khan, Riteish Deshmukh and Ram Kapoor in triple role bringing the house down with their hilarious antics. There are three different sets of look-alikes which give rise to amusing situations and cause confusion and misunderstandings. Saif and Ritesh have the same name ‘Ashok’ and ‘Kumar’ in all three roles- as two friends, as two mental asylum patients and another set of look-alikes is created by plastic surgery to confuse issues. Ram Kapoor gets to play the role of Saif’s evil uncle, a dangerous mental asylum patient and a disco owner who agrees to help Saif to thwart the evil uncle’s evil plans.

Unfortunately, the film was panned by critics so much that audience decided to stay away which was sad because there were some genuinely funny scenes which were really enjoyable. And to think some really weird films have actually ended up making Rs 100 crores! Indeed showbiz is a matter of luck…

SHAH RUKH KHAN: English Babu Desi Mem (1996)

Father and twin sons

english-babu-desi-mem

The story revolves around a wealthy London businessman Gopal and his twin sons Vikram and Hari. While Gopal and Vikram are busy amassing wealth, Har is a simpleton and to esacpe this life he gets on to a plane and escapes. However the plane crashes and everyone assumes that Hari is dead. But Hari survives, marries a girl and sadly on the the day of delivery, both he and his wife die and the new-born child is left in the care of the wife’s sister. Years later, the nephew stakes claim on Gopal’s inheritance and Vikram comes to India to verify the claim and comes to know of his brother’s truth.

Though the film did not run, SRK got to add a triple role to his repertoire…

KAMAL HASSAN: Appu Raja (1989)

Father and twin sons

appuraja

This one was a dubbed version of the outstanding Tamil original titled Apoorva Sahodargal where he is murdered in the father’s role and his twin sons get separated after birth. While one of the twin sons becomes a car mechanic, the other son is a dwarf in the circus. The killers had actually poisoned his mother during her pregnancy because of which he is born a dwarf. This was a thrilling revenge saga where the dwarf manages to kill his father’s murderers so ingeniously that every time the blame comes on his twin brother who in spite of being innocent always happens to be at the scene of crime. In the end the brothers join hands and all is well. The film is still remembered for his outstanding acting as the dwarf. This not only remains a landmark character in Indian cinema but its filming without the use of CGI has also remained a secret till date!

RAJNIKANT: John Johny Janardan (1984)

Father and twin sons

john-jaani-janardan1

Directed by T Rama Rao, the film is a remake of the 1982 super-hit Tamil film Moonru Mugam. The father Rajnikant who is an honest cop gets killed by the leader of the gang selling illicit liquor and his wife dies giving birth to twin sons. Rajnikant’s poor sister brings up one son who grows up to be a good-for-nothing wastrel only interested in drinking, womanizing and petty crimes. She gives away the other son to a rich childless couple who had a still-born on the same day and they decide to keep this a secret.

The suspense deepens as the rich son after he grows up claims that he is the reincarnation of the Inspector father and remembers all the minute details of the murder and the murderers. Meanwhile the gang leader out of fear of getting caught gets the wastrel Rajnikant to impersonate as the father claiming that he never died. So there is enough scope in the narrative to engage the audience and for Rajnikant to do justice to the three different roles.

DHARMENDRA: Jio Shaan Se (1997)

Three identical brothers

Jiyoshaansee.jpg

Directed by Talat Jaani, the film revolves around two college youths. Dharmendra as a character artist gets to play a triple role. He plays three identical brothers- Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. The full film is difficult to find on YouTube but there is a 35min video which seems to be an important part of the film and has the scene where all three brothers come in a single frame.

SHATRUGHAN SINHA: Milaap (1972)

Reincarnation saga

milaap.jpg

Directed by B R Ishara this reincarnation saga had Shatrughan Sinha playing Reena Roy’s lover in a previous birth as well as the current birth. Apart from these two there is also a snake in the current birth that takes the form of Shatrughan Sinha to be close to his old lover Reena Roy. Though a weird concept for a reincarnation theme, it was certainly a novel one with Shatrughan giving a very good performance in all three roles.

COMEDIANS

KADER KHAN: The Don (1995)

Three identical brothers

In this film starring Mithun Chakravorty and directed by Farooque Siddique, Kader Khan gets to play triple role – as a Chaprasi (peon), a Principal and a Professor- all in the same college. As the Principal and the Professor, they are in love with the same lady Professor and the Principal at times makes cheap attempts to impersonate the Professor to get close to her. This track is only to lighten the otherwise gloomy underworld drama.

MEHMOOD: Humjoli (1970)

Grandfather, Father, Son

mehmood.jpgIf this film with its nonsensical plot is remembered to this day it is because of two things- Mehmood’s triple role and a couple of song picturizations. The hero Jeetendra and veteran actor Pran are completely eclipsed by the genius comedian Mehmood whose unique take on the Kapoor family in his triple avatar remains a rare cinematic treat till today. As the grandfather, he is every bit like Prithviraj Kapoor intact with all his mannerisms and voice modulations and as the father he manages to transform himself completely into Raj Kapoor. As the son he is himself and the scenes with all three are really hilarious and a testament for this actor’s monumental talent.

I S JOHAR: Johny Mera Naam (1970)

Three identical brothers

In 1970 came a superb fun-filled entertainer- Johny Mera Naam-directed by Vijay Anand and had Dev Anand, Hema Malini and Pran in pivotal roles. The film is also remembered for the triple role played by I S Johar, which provides a slight comic diversion in the film. They are three brothers Pehleraam (a police constable), Doojaram (a purser) and Teejaram (a bartender in a hotel). Needless to say he was superb in all three roles.

ASRANI: Hum Nahi Sudhrenge (1980)

Three different but identical looking people

Hum Nahin Sudhrene

In 1980, actor Asrani decided to produce and direct a film and cast himself in a triple role. He also won himself a Filmfare nomination for ‘Best Actor in comic role’. There is not much information regarding this film and neither is it available on YouTube.

JOHNY LEVER: Achanak (1998)

Three identical brothers

johny-leverThis is basically a revenge drama starring Govinda and Manisha Koirala where Govinda’s father is killed and Johny Lever is one of the people who help in nabbing the killers. He gets to play three identical brothers – Joni,  Moni & Toni Kapoor. Being the super actor that he is, the scenes are very enjoyable.

PARESH RAWAL: Oye Lucky Lucky Oye (2008)

Three different look-alikes

Oye-Lucky-Lucky-Oye.jpg

This surprise hit of 2008 directed by Dibakar Bannerjee starring Abhay Deol was based on a real-life conman of Delhi who grew up in the small bylanes of the Capital and masterminded some brilliant robberies giving the police sleepless nights. Veteran Paresh Rawal got to play three different characters in it- Abhay Deol’s father, a gang-leader and a shrewd and calculating Doctor Handa and excels in all three roles.

RAJPAL YADAV: Hanstey Hanstey (2008)

Father, Son, Uncle

rajpalyadav.jpg

In this 2008 film directed by Tony, comedy actor Rajpal Yadav tries to infuse some life into the otherwise listless proceedings with his triple role- a father, his flirtatious son and uncle. Though the film’s publicity centered on Rajpal’s three roles, the film sank without a trace and one wonders if anyone ever heard of this film.

ACTRESSES:

MADHUBALA: Phagun (1958)

Reincarnation story

This reincarnation drama directed by Bibhuti Mitra had Madhubala and Bharat Bhushan essaying lovers in a previous birth and husband-wife in the current birth. Madhubala has a triple role as she also gets to play the mother in the previous birth and had a very small role as she dies at childbirth. A sage declares the new-born to be a bad omen and the father decides to abandon the child by putting the baby in a casket and setting it afloat in a nearby river. She is found by a tribal leader and grows up to be a tribal beauty who falls in love with a rich Bharat Bhushan.

VYJAYANTIMALA: Madhumati (1958)

Reincarnation saga

This one directed by Bimal Roy is considered to be the best amongst all the reincarnation stories ever told in Hindi cinema. This one was a love story-cum-murder drama and featured Vyjayantimala in a triple role giving one of her career-best performances. She plays a village girl in love with Dilip Kumar in a previous birth but sadly kills herself when Pran attempts to molest her. He buries her body without anyone’s knowledge and in his quest to get to the truth Dilip Kumar enlists the help of a young woman, a look-alike of his dead lover. In the third role she is the wife of Dilip Kumar in the current birth.

 

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17 thoughts on “TRIPLE ROLES IN BOLLYWOOD

  1. Wow.Fantastic information. I am still dumbfounded at your brilliant knowledge & post reading very Enlightened. Goes to show your writing is marvellous.
    Terrific topic.
    Comedy movies would be a treat to watch. Cheers & keep it going . Super

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Please include Devan Verma -Besharm ,Satish Shah -Param Dharm ( four roles ) ,Vineeta Goyal- Janam Janam ,Deepika Padukone -OSM ETC.

    Like

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