Singing Lookalikes

Two Sikh gentlemen, both residents of Delhi, look remarkably like each other: ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and businessman Gurmeet Singh Sethi. They look so much alike that the latter even appeared in a film as the Prime Minister, assuring a group of advocates who approach him to help amend an act that has to do with women being harassed in marriage. That section is 498A of the Indian Penal Code, and the 2012 film, called “498A-The Wedding Gift”, starred Farida Jalal and Alok Nath.

How is it that some people, completely unrelated, can look so much like somebody else? And even if they are twins, how does it happen?

In the case of siblings, there are two kinds of twins, identical, and fraternal. Both kinds are most often born within minutes of each other, but the original story inside the expecting mother decides what happens outside later. If the twins are born from the same egg, they belong to the same sex and become identical in appearance. If they are fertilized from different eggs, they are called fraternal or non-identical twins. These are genetically distinct: they don’t look like each other, and may even be brother and sister.

However, if there is a logical explanation for identical twins to look like each other, there is no genetic explanation for lookalikes who are not identical twins. But as we saw in the above gents, such unrelated lookalikes do exist. There is also no explanation for people from different periods in history—and from different ethnic origins—to look identical, but that happens too. While our cinema has even brushed with the idea of reincarnated lookalikes, as also similar-looking fathers and sons, mothers and daughters! Even more, our films have sometimes made both of them sing, that’s how similar they have been shown.

Hindi films have juiced the idea from time to time. Here are a few cases of unrelated lookalikes in our films: Vyjayanthimala in Madhumati (1958), Dev Anand in Hum Dono (1961), Shammi Kapoor in China Town (1962), Rajesh Khanna in Sacha Jhootha (1970), and Amitabh Bachchan in Don (1978). As for identical twins, Ashok Kumar had one in Afsana (1951), Nargis in Anhoni (1952), Neetu Singh in Do Kaliyan (1968), and Raakhi in Sharmilee (1971). The rebirth kinds of lookalikes have been featured in our movies too, for example, both Sunil Dutt and Nutan in Milan (1967), Waheeda Rehman in Neel Kamal (1968), and both Hema Malini and Rajesh Khanna in Mehbooba (1976). And then the parent-child lookalikes have been seen too, as in Suchitra Sen in Mamta (1966), Rajesh Khanna in Aradhana (1969), Meena Kumari in Pakeezah (1971) and Sridevi in Lamhe (1991). There are some more.

As mentioned above, many lookalikes have also gone on to enjoy music in their movies. Here are instances of at least one lookalike singing in such stories. In most cases, both of them have been found singing.

  • Anhoni (1952): Is dil ki haalat kya kahiye, on Nargis 1; Kaha hai unhone ye raaz-e-muhabbat, on Nargis 2; Zindagi badli muhabbat ka maza aane laga, on both of them
  • Hum Dono (1961): Main zindagi ka saath nibhaata chala gaya, on Dev Anand 1; Kabhi khud pe kabhi haalaat pe, on Dev Anand 1 again, with Dev Anand 2 also in the frame 
  • China Town (1962): Baar-baar dekho hazaar baar dekho, on Shammi Kapoor 1; Bada qaatil hai mera yaar, on Shammi Kapoor 2
  • Woh Kaun Thi (1964): Jo humne daastaan apni sunaayi, on Sadhana 1; Naina barse rimjhim rimjhim, on Sadhana 2
  • Mamta (1966): Rahen na rahen hum, on Suchitra Sen 1; In bahaaron mein akela na phiro, on Suchitra Sen 2 (with Dharmendra)
  • Mera Saaya (1966): Tu jahaan-jahaan chalega, on Sadhana 1; Jhumka gira re, on Sadhana 2
  • Milan (1967): Saawan ka maheena pawan kare sor, on Sunil Dutt 1 and Nutan 1; Hum-tum yug yug se ye geet milan ke, on Sunil Dutt 2 and Nutan 2
  • Ram Aur Shyam (1967): Main hoon saaqi tu hai sharaabi-sharaabi, on Dilip Kumar 1 with Waheeda Rehman; Baalam tere pyaar ki thandi aag mein jalte-jalte, on Dilip Kumar 2 with Mumtaz
  • Do Kaliyan (1968): Bachche man ke sachche, on Neetu Singh 1; Murga-murgi pyaar se dekhen, on Neetu Singh 2
  • Neel Kamal (1968): Sharma ke yoon na dekh, Raj Kumar to Waheeda Rehman 1; He rom rom mein basne waale Ram, on Waheeda Rehman 2
  • Aradhana (1969): Kora kaagaz tha ye man mera, on Rajesh Khanna 1 and Sharmila Tagore; Baagon mein bahaar hai, on Rajesh Khanna 2 and Farida Jalal
  • Jigri Dost (1969): Raat suhaani jaag rahi hai, on Jeetendra 1 and Mumtaz; Dil mein kya hai, on Jeetendra 2 and Komal
  • Sharmilee (1971): Megha chhaaye aadhi raat, on Raakhi 1; Khilte hain gul yahaan, on Raakhi 2
  • Gora Aur Kala (1972): Ik na ik din ye kahaani banegi, on Rajendra Kumar 1; Dhoom mach gayi dhoom, on Rajendra Kumar 2
  • Seeta Aur Geeta (1972): Hawa ke saath-saath, on Hema Malini 1 with Sanjeev Kumar; Abhi to haath mein jaam hai, has Hema Malini 2 in the frame
  • Humshakal (1974): Kaahe ko bulaaya mujhe baalma, on Rajesh Khanna 1 and Tanuja; Hum-tum gum-sum raat milan ki, on Rajesh Khanna 2 and Maushami Chatterji
  • Bairaag (1976): Saare sheher mein aap sa koi naheen, on Dilip Kumar 1 and Leena Chandavarkar; Chhoti si umar mein lag gaya rog, on Saira, singing to Dilip Kumar 2
  • Mausam (1976): Dil dhoondta hai phir wohi, on Sharmila Tagore 1 and Sanjeev Kumar; Mere ishq mein laakhon jhatke, on Sharmila Tagore 2
  • Mehbooba (1976): Parbat ke peechhe, on Hema Malini 1 and Rajesh Khanna; Main tawaif hoon, on Hema Malini 2
  • Don (1978): Khaike paan Banaras waala, on Amitabh Bachchan 1; Ye mera dil, has Amitabh Bachchan 2 in the frame
  • Hum Dono (1985): Sunle zameen aasmaan, on Hema Malini and Rajesh Khanna 1; Josh-e-jawaani tauba re tauba, on Rajesh Khanna 2
  • Lamhe (1991): Morni baagaan mein boli, on Sridevi 1 and unknown actress; Meri bindiya teri nindiya, on Sridevi 2

The idea about someone somewhere looking so much like you has been around for centuries. The Germans have known it for long too. They even have a word for someone who looks like another living person: doppelganger.

So do you want to find your doppelganger? Many websites offer to try finding him for you. For instance, for a small fee, TwinStrangers ( will try find your match from a million other faces. But the catch is, they will only be able to match your face with people registered with them, which is only a microcosm of the humanity that exists around the globe. As such, you can’t be sure that they will discover a match. And if identified, do not also be sure you will be impressed with who they think is your lookalike.

As for that Sardarji from Delhi, he has become a celebrity of sorts. With his special looks, he added an important aha moment in “498A—The Wedding Gift”. In the film’s aftermath, the director won critical acclaim for handling the subject well. He was also jokingly criticized, off the record, for giving a couple of speaking lines to the Prime Minister. The real Prime Minister believed in the idiom Silence is golden.


Published on 03 September 2017

(DNA, page 13)


10 thoughts on “Singing Lookalikes

  1. I have heard that there’s a person of the same face and built as we are but I doubt about music oriented too and specially Indian music and again classified as Bollywood songs. Yes I have come across two people with quite identical faces but not habits.
    I have twins a son and daughter one living in India and twin daughter living in UK. I won’t call their faces or habits match. It’s said that the couple’s who love more intensely get twins. I can’t vouch for it though. Prrhaps in genes as my Mamaji and Bhuaji and taiji had twins and in present generations me and my first cousin have twins.
    How beautifully you write and touch on a subject every week is nothing but a miracle and then connect that subject to Hindu songs. Commendable indeed.

    1. So many twins in your family? Wow! And thanks Kuldipbhai for your pleasant feedback, but I’m sure you meant that I connect to Hindi songs, not Hindu songs. Waise bhi, teer kheenche hue baitthe hain zamaane waale ha ha ha 🙂

  2. The movies with double role always engaged me. There is an element of surprise always. I like Ram aur shyam the most on lost brothers and hum dono otherwise.
    I recall the scene of the movie when Nanda was trying to do middle parting on Dev’s hair. She was so desperate to see the soul of his husband.
    I personally feel that the formula of lost brothers/sisters in a movie was often repeated after Seeta aur Geeta without any value addition.
    Satte pe Satta was interesting though.

    Interesting theme and lovely article Sir.

    1. “I recall the scene of the movie when Nanda was trying to do middle parting on Dev’s hair. She was so desperate to see the soul of his husband.” Kya yaad dila diya _()_ 🙂

  3. The melas and man-made or natural calamities have existed since centuries as also the male of the species penchant to impregnate as many….before the laws stepped in to reign in that tendency. That possibly explains the lookalikes apart from what you mention.

    As for me trying to find a lookalike, I rather remain one-of-a-kind 🙂

    1. Wow, heavy comment, both anthropological and genetic…I am incompetent to confirm or deny Balbir. But you are special, that I know 🙂

  4. Manek – I’m sure you have triggers for choosing the topics you do each week: I’m curious…what was this week’s trigger? And… have you found your doppelganger? I mean, is there perhaps another one like you? One as passionate about music? 🙂 Seems doubtful. What a read this is! Complete with your tongue-in-cheek last sentence.
    Must watch the movie with the Sikh gentleman in it!
    In the meantime, wow!

    1. Grateful Monica…but of course there are passionate music lovers around. Many better informed, many of them musicians too. Your own story is commendable…the mania seeps through in your essays 🙂

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