Back in the ’60s, double roles were a novelty. That’s when Bollywood saw films like Hum Dono (1961) and Ram Aur Shyam (1967).
The formula became a hit in the ’70s and ’80s, with Amitabh Bachchan doing several of them — Don (1978), Geraftaar (1985) and Akhree Raasta (1986), among others.
Usually the domain of stars, the ’90s naturally saw the Khans — Salman and Shah Rukh — do Judwaa (1997) and Duplicate (1998). However, the 2000s saw a slowdown.
Film exhibitor and distributor Akshaye Rathi says that "after Dil Chahta Hai (2003), and till Wanted (2008), many filmmakers believed that catering to the multiplex audience was the way to go; the double role wasn’t suitable."
There were a few double roles now and then, but it’s only since mid-2012 that the formula has made a comeback. The Abhishek Bachchan-starrer Bol Bachchan (2012) made Rs 100 cr, while Arjun Kapoor garnered some praise for his double role in Aurangzeb.
Now, with a handful of such films lined up, the trend is truly on its way back. Trade analyst Amod Mehra reckons double roles still make for a hit formula. "Audiences are still fascinated by them. But you need an actor of high calibre to pull them off. There’s always a set formula, and it’ll either be a comedy or a drama," Mehra says, adding that a monetary benefit is that you get two characters by signing one big actor.
Trade analyst Taran Adarsh adds that today’s actors "are more careful while choosing double roles".
Hrithik Roshan: He plays both the father and superhero son in Krrish 3.
Salman Khan: He may have a double role in Sooraj Barjatya’s Bade Bhaiyya and Anees Bazmee’s No Entry sequel.
Abhishek Bachchan: You’ll apparently see two Abhisheks in Happy New Year.
Saif Ali Khan, Riteish Deshmukh and Ram Kapoor: Each has a triple role in Sajid Khan’s Hamshakal.
Katrina Kaif: She’ll play a double role in the Seeta Aur Geeta (1972) remake.