Busted: Pistols don't open doors
This weekly column debunks the various myths propagated by Indian cinema—Tamil films in particular
Myth: A door can be unlocked by firing a pistol
Propagated in: Manithan, Mankatha
In Tamil films, especially ones that deal with crime, there’s usually a scene that we have seen one too many times. It’s when the protagonist stands outside a locked door with a pistol in hand -- a door behind which there are likely hostages held. As using more effective, understated methods isn’t quite heroic, the hero usually shoots the lock, and the door magically swings open.
Inspector Sankara Narayanan rejects the idea straightaway. “It isn’t possible,” he says. “First, let’s take the makeup of a door. These days, most houses have a common PVC door or a wooden door with approximately 6mm thickness locked with an ordinary silver lock. If I am shooting at it with a pistol without much training, the bullets that hit the door will likely go through it. Even if I were a terrific shooter and managed to hit the lock directly, it would only end up denting the body of the lock after which you have to break it open with a large amount of force. Bullets fired cannot magically force open a silver lock.”
He adds, “Now imagine the thicker front door that adorns the entrance of a lot of houses. These usually have a proper bronze lock or the famous Dindigul lock. It is next to impossible to pry open that door with multiple shots. In fact, chances of the bullet richocheting off the lock is higher.”
The inspector says that there is a gun that can come in handy -- the shotgun. “You could then blast open a hole in the door and it wouldn’t really matter what lock is on it,” he says.
So, there you go. Pistols don’t magically open locks, and the next time, a hero shoots the lock open, you know he’s just doing what countlesss heroes before him have done—propagating a falsehood.