Try visualising twins. Most people of my vintage are likely to imagine a bowler hatted, walking stick wielding, black suit wearing, moustachioed imagery of two comic detectives who go by the names Thomson and Thompson. Now here’s the kicker: although they appear identical and have near-similar names, the fictional fact is, they aren’t at all twins!
Can you see the games the mind plays? Similar dressed people with similar names somehow create an illusion of sameness. That’s why child psychologists have implored parents time and again to stay away from the ‘Ramesh/Suresh’, ‘Seeta/Geeta’ and ‘Ram/Shyam’ templates. The theory is it impedes the development of a distinctive persona.
Despite the protestations of experts, moms and dads everywhere prefer a semblance of similarity while naming their twins. Part of the blame should be apportioned to our screenwriters who are downright lazy when it comes to devising nomenclature.
A cursory look at Bollywood and Kollywood will reveal the extent of predictability. In ‘Chaalbaaz’, Sridevi played Anju and Manju. The twin villains in ‘Ghajini’ were Ram and Lakshman. Back in the sixties, Neetu Singh acted as ‘Ganga’ and ‘Jamuna’ in ‘Do Kaliyaan’. Dharmendra doubled up as Ajay and Vijay in ‘Ghazab’ (a remake of Kalyanaraman).
Tamil actor Ajith takes the cake. In ‘Vaali’, he was Deva and Shiva. With 'Villain', he became Shiva and Vishnu. Finally in ‘Varalaaru’ he chose to be Vishnu and Jeeva. In Khiladi 420, Akshay Kumar appears as Dev and Anand. Although I must add, that things got a lot wilder with ‘Khiladi 786’. Akshay donned the avatars of Bahattar Singh and Tehattar Singh. For those of you who are clueless about Hindi, Bahattar is 72 while Tehattar is 73!
The most memorable twin names that I can remember in Tamil films, was in ‘Jeans’. Prashant essayed the roles of Vishwanathan and Ramamurthi, a nod to the music composer duo who dominated the industry before the Ilaiyaraja era.
Things have improved in Bollywood too. Aamir Khan slipped effortlessly into the skins of Sahir Khan and Samar Khan in ‘Dhoom 3’. Sahir and Samar are both Urdu words that have a connection with night/after dark. In contrast, Hollywood is a lot more creative. The Japanese twins in ‘Austin Powers in Goldmember’ were called ‘Fook Mi’ and ‘Fook Yu’. Surely, we can learn a trick or two from them!