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Coolie No. 1 review: What’s next? Raja Babu remake?

David Dhawan’s 45th film starring Varun Dhawan and Sara Ali Khan is a crappy remake of the filmmaker’s hilarious Coolie No. 1 made in 1995.

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Coolie No. 1

Coolie No. 1

Director: David Dhawan

Cast: Varun Dhawan, Sara Ali Khan, Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav, Javed Jaffery

Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video

In the 1990s, David Dhawan, Govinda, Kader Khan often supported by Shakti Kapoor and Karisma Kapoor were a team to reckon with for comedies in Bollywood. In 1995, this team gave us Coolie No. 1. Govinda and Dhawan Sr. were in their prime. Cut to 25 years later. Dhawan Sr. is remaking his ‘classics’ with his son Varun Dhawan trying to recreate the magic of Govinda. The father-son duo have worked on Main Tera Hero and Judwaa 2 earlier. In both these films, however brainless and unfunny, Dhawan Jr. seemed to give his genuine best to a brand of cinema he has grown up watching, up close.

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But in Coolie No. 1 Varun is humiliating himself with poor comic timing, which Govinda never struggled with. Sara Ali Khan reprising the role played by Karisma Kapoor has been reduced to an eye candy in minis. Comedy veterans Paresh Rawal, Johny Lever, and Rajpal Yadav have been wasted in doing cheap antics and sprouting corny rhyming lines.

In 25 years since the original movie’s release, much has changed in the world and in Bollywood. But Dhawan Sr. seems to be in no mood to update the way comedies can to be made for today’s audience. Nostalgia can only get them curious about a film. But to expect them to give their already shortened attention span for two hours needs something substantial.

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Of course, Coolie No. 1 was made to be released in theatres, mainly targeting the single screens (whatever’s left). It has released on Amazon Prime Video because of the pandemic. Thankfully, while streaming, you don’t have to sit through the forcefully plugged songs, most of them remixes from the original movie. You can press fast forward.

The original Coolie No. 1 was set in a village. It had almost caricature-ish, but genuinely funny characters and actors who brought their A-game. David Dhawan had a strong command over editing. He swiftly paced his brainless but hilarious comedies which were great fun in their times. He would cut for a chartbusting song for 3-4 minutes and then again bring your attention back to the story. Only David could do it with such prowess.

Watch Coolie No. 1 trailer here:

Coolie No. 1 is Dhawan Sr.’s 45th film. It is outdated by two decades. The last David Dhawan film I enjoyed thoroughly was Partner (2007) – a brief but superb comeback for Govinda. Since then, the director hasn’t made a comedy worth laughing or remembering. It would be great to see David Dhawan with a decent enough script, reinventing a genre which he had aced in his prime. Otherwise, what’s next? Raja Babu?

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