Indian comedies are replete with stories of mistaken identities, fake identities, assumed identities, being at the wrong place at the wrong time and ingenious ploys by ordinary people. That's not to say they don't have place for all the 'masala' elements - romance, fights, high drama and songs.
CHUPKE CHUPKE (1975) – Hindi – A Wodehouseian plot where a newly married man plays a prank on his wife's unsuspecting family, by masquerading as her car driver and asking a friend to assume his identity as the husband.
THILLU MULLU (1981)– Tamil – In order to land a job, Chandran assumes a serious demeanour and a fake moustache. When his deception is almost discovered by his boss, he ends up having to create a fake identity - that of an irresponsible, moustache-less, twin brother, Indran.
ANGOOR (1982)– Hindi - Based on Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors, Angoor is about two sets of twins – each child is separated from his own twin, but grows up with a child from the other twin set. To add to the confusion, each set has identical names - twin Ashoks and twin Bahadurs!
PUSHPAK / PESUM PADAM(1987) - Silent– An unemployed youth assumes the identity of a millionnaire to get a taste of the good life. The movie reinterprets the silent film genre using expression, body language, music and symbolism in the absence of dialogue in this dark comedy.
CHITHRAM (1988) – Malayalam - Kalyani hires Vishnu to act as her husband, projecting the picture of a happy marriage to her visiting father. Although they bicker constantly, Kalyani soon falls in love with Vishnu, who hides a tragic secret.
HYDERABAD BLUES (1998) – English - A low budget realistic comedy about a young NRI who visits his hometown, Hyderabad, on vacation, and resists relentless pressure from his parents to get him 'arrange-married' in a hurry.
KHOSLA KA GHOSLA (2006) – When all efforts by legal means fail, a beleaguered Khosla and his middle-class family set a trap for Khurana, the land-shark, to beat him at his own game and retrieve their piece of land from him.
SA-RO-JA (2008) – Tamil - In this comic thriller, four young men, en route to Hyderabad to watch a cricket match, take a detour off the highway. They reach an abandoned factory which they discover is a kidnapper's den where a schoolgirl is being held captive.
3 IDIOTS (2009) – Hindi – Raju and Farhan uncover the fascinating story of their best friend from college, the ingenious Rancho, who believed in learning for its own sake and had thereby invited the wrath of the placement-focussed principal.
EEGA (2012) – Telugu - When a wealthy industrialist discovers that the young girl he's smitten by is already in love with a young man, he has him murdered. The young man is reborn as an animated housefly and sets about wreaking havoc in the industrialist's life.
An edited version of the article was published in Culturama's May 2013 Issue.