Busted: Double trouble
This weekly column debunks the various myths propagated by Indian cinema—Tamil films in particular
Myth: Twins can't be identified even by their parents
Propagated in: Jeans, Enga Veetu Pillai and loads of films
Enga Veetu Pillai, that was re-released last week, is probably Tamil cinema’s most enduring double action film. It was a trendsetter in its own right, and many Tamil films since then have followed the same template of twins separated at birth, who rejoin to fight the good fight at the end. In almost all these films, there usually is at least one scene where the parent/sibling/lover will fail to identify one twin from the other and will continue to mistake the new twin for the person they know.
While it is a convenient plot point, this is not something that holds any water, says Dr. Sowmya Murali. “Even if they are identical twins, most babies will have different birth marks including moles. And once they grow up, one might be taller and/or heavier than the other. It’s true that they share the same genetic blueprint and look remarkably similar, but people are never truly identical. For instance, they won’t have identical fingerprints.”
But how difficult is to identify one person from a set of twins at a glance? “It isn’t easy for a stranger. I have met twins who were hard to tell apart at first glance, but once you start to speak to them, you notice little differences. Things like their clothes, hair and facial features help. Even if they do wear identical clothes, like in Jeans, it is only difficult if you are tasked with identifying such twins without knowing them beforehand. It is definitely not possible for their parents to be confused. They would identify them with the inflections in their voice over the phone.”