Coolie No.1 Hindi Movie Review
Coolie No. 1 is so cheesy that it belongs and should have only belonged to the 1990s. It is a remake of director David Dhawan's 1995 film of the same name. I have not seen that Govinda film, but I could still tell how ludicrous and problematic this Coolie No. 1 is.
This is the story of how a coolie marries a wealthy business person's daughter under the guise of being wealthier. It is also about a matchmaker taking revenge on the business person for insulting him by making his daughter marry a fake millionaire. You must have heard this story in many other generic films.
Anyhow, being generic, or supposedly trying to offer 'comfort in the familiar', is not the issue with the film. There has to be some freshness in the narrative, acting or some other filmmaking aspect to justify a remake. I am not comparing these different-language films but take Ala Vaikunthapurramuloo, for instance. The Allu Arjun-starrer has a somewhat similar plot, with the wealthy-poor conflict presented well. Barring some mishaps, the Telugu film treated its subject matter with some level of respect to the audience's intelligence.
As for intelligence, Coolie No. 1 shows it has none of that. It has many ridiculous scenes that even 5-year-olds may find ludicrous. For example, Varun Dhawan doing a stunt sequence similar to Shah Rukh Khan's from 2011's Ra.One. Junior Dhawan had to have a spandex costume and an arc reactor on his body, plus this had to be a superhero film, to warrant that stunt in it.
Even though I liked 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi', I have often wondered how Anushka Sharma's Taani could not identify her husband Suri and lover Raj as the same Shah Rukh Khan character. In Coolie No. 1, Paresh Rawal's businessman fails to recognize Javed Jaffrey's matchmaker when the latter has a slightly different get-up and look. Rawal's Rosario and his family could not even tell photoshopped pictures and real images apart, but you can at least put that down to a lack of software know-how. Rawal is a great actor, but it is sad to see him being reduced to playing these kinds of 'stock' characters.
The women characters in Coolie No. 1 are mere 'eye-candy' types, like props cut out from other similar movies and merely pasted here. Sara Ali Khan is beautiful, but her role is vanilla as compared to her clothes. Johnny Lever's comedy is legendary, but here, he does not get enough funny moments to make a mark. The same goes for the usually reliable Javed Jaffrey. So, the bulk of the heavy lifting in Coolie No. 1 is up to Varun Dhawan. The actor looks dapper in many scenes, plus he is sincere and likeable. But he cannot match Govinda's impeccable comic timing. So, it is painful to watch Dhawan mimicking whatever Govinda did in dozens of similar films. He tries, and that is the least offensive thing you could say about his performance here.
Only one actor escapes this schlock film without many injuries, and that is Rajpal Yadav. He has done this side role in a so-called masala entertainer so often, so admirably and successfully.
To summarize, many years later, the only way to instantly know that this film is a 2020 release is its mere mention of corona. That is to say, it is a film typical of the 1990s Hindi cinema. David Dhawan has a knack for comedy, but with these serial remakes of his comedy classics, he has only overstayed his welcome. His Judwaa 2 now seems from a long time before, and Coolie No. 1 is his movie version of a mutated strain that would plague film lovers for years.