When Mark Twain wrote ”The Prince and the Pauper” it was about two people who looked almost alike but their worlds were nothing but similar. (Probably the first ever such story, if you discount less etched examples in mythology like that of ”Ashwini Gods”, “Nakula-Sahadeva” etc). So, what ensues when they are swapped into each of their worlds, forms the crux of the story.
Over the years, several Indian films were made on this look-alike concept (including the 1954 telugu movie “Raju-Peda” that was an adaptation of this story) and most of them enjoyed decent success at the box-office. At one point of time, an actor playing a dual-role was equated with star status and making it to the big league.
Most of these films follow three basic blocks whether the two characters are twins or not
- bumping into each other or someone else initiating them (like in ”Don”, “Iddaru Mitrulu” , “The Man in the iron mask” etc)
- learning to be the other and adjusting to their world (“Don”, “Iddaru Mitrulu”, “Hello Brother” etc)
- resolving the problems in their world (most of these films) and two live happily forever(“Iddaru Mitrulu”, “Hello Brother” etc) or one gets killed (like in Krishna’s film ”Bandodu-Gundamma”).
Incidentally when my father wrote and directed a TV episode he pretty much followed the same format but incorporated a deadly twist towards the end.
However as years progressed, and with several such films dished out on the same theme, writers/directors fast tracked and jumbled this structure and the result is films like “Adhurs” and now the recent “Nayak”
“Nayak” in a way respects audience sensibilities and does not treat them with too many cliched scenes that result during/post their swapping. Instead, it focuses on what it if these two characters meet each other in an unusual circumstance and pads the rest of the scenes before and after.
The director makes sure that that movie marches ahead with brisk pace ably supported by decent writing and good acting by the support cast. One could argue that this leaves not much for the lead star to perform, but in a masala entertainer, there is only a little he can do anyway. Ram Charan dazzles and he carries his dances and scenes with grace. Songs deserve special mention specially the first one (“Laila…”) and the songs shot in abroad.
On the whole, “Nayak” keeps you occupied but does not engross you. It does not raise the bar, which I guess, is not too much to expect from the star of ”Magadheera” and the director of “Aadi”.
Here is a small list of dual-role films that I can recall.
- The Great Dictator (1940)
- Raju-Peda (1954)
- Iddaru Mithrulu (1961)
- Ramudu Bheemudu (1964)
- Leta manasulu (1966)
- Bullemma Bullodu (1972)
- Don (1978)
- Kumara Raja (1978)
- Yugandhar (1979)
- Bandodu Gundamma (1980)
- Pagabattina Simham (1982)
- Mahaan (1983)
- Simhasanam (1986)
- Gudachari 117 (1987) (Bhanupriya)
- Yamudiki Mogudu (1988)
- Hello Brother (1994)
- The man in the iron mask (1998)
- The parent trap (1998)
- Adhurs (2010)
- The Devil’s Double (2011)