Coolie No. 1 does one thing at the onset; it stays on to be a faithful remake of the 1995 namesake entertainer. Yes, it was a risky thing to do. After all, when the core plot of the film was centered on disguised entities, the first thing that one would have screamed was ‘2020 has internet after all’. Hence, the whole idea of suspension of disbelief was needed to be taken to an altogether different level.
This is where everything boils down to the experience of the man for whom Coolie No. 1 is his 45th film as a director, David Dhawan. There is so much conviction that he has in the subject matter of the film that he doesn’t hesitate in setting the film in the current times while not changing anything whatsoever in its core treatment or even plot points. What still makes it all work is the fact that the pace of the film is quite rapid, and the situations inherently funny, that you like what you see.
Not that the beginning of the film is as dhamakedaar as you would have expected. The opening credits with the animation film around the younger Raju is just a bit too sudden and also, it has a very 80s feel to it. Moreover, the song that plays in the background doesn’t work either. However, once the core feature film begins, you know that the film is being loyal to the Govinda-Karishma Kapoor starrer. So in enter Paresh Rawal, Javed Jaffrey and Rajpal Yadav in place of Kadar Khan, Sadashiv Amrapurkar and Shakti Kapoor and one is assured that this would be a rapid fire affair.
That is exactly what happens and once Varun Dhawan comes on the scene, it’s his energy that draws your attention. The film required someone who totally surrenders himself to the director, especially so this one has an unbelievable plot with some implausible situations which can’t be expected to work if you start applying logic or begin to ask questions. In case of Coolie No. 1, by virtue of Varun being the director’s son as well, one can see the whole conviction angle coming into play.
Sara Ali Khan seems to be finding herself in an unexplored world, courtesy the whole 1995 set up. However, considering she has delivered a masala entertainer in Simmba and here she far more screen time as well as chartbuster tracks in her kitty, she does go through the motions while looking quite attractive as well. As for Paresh Rawal, though he has a very crucial role in the film and is present right though, honestly I did miss Kadar Khan as he was a champion in such roles. Moreover, even Shakti Kapoor was a hoot in the 1995 version and Rajpal Yadav doesn’t quite come close.
However, Varun Dhawan does get it right and while comparisons with Govinda are also obvious, the fact also remains that the veteran actor had done dozens of films by the time Coolie No. 1 came his way whereas the youngster has only 10 odd films behind him. Still, comparisons aside, even as a stand-alone actor Varun delivered quite well in his double role act and during a few dramatic as well as action sequences, he is quite convincing. His comic timing is right though which ensures that you do laugh along when he brings on something funny on screen.
I did hope though if there would be a couple of entirely new sequences written in the film which would be totally true to the 2020 era. However, except for a stray coronavirus reference (which seems to have been added during the dubbing), there isn’t anything new added to Coolie No. 1 and the gags as well as punches that work best are the ones that did well back in 1995 as well.
What has been upped though in the newer version are the production values. The makers (Vashu Bhagnani, Jackky Bhagnani, Deepshikha Deshmukh) have made sure that the film looks far richer and the kind of glossy sets are just the kind that would have brightened up the big screen. Each and every song has been picturised in a very lavish fashion, while even chawls are decorated attractively to ensure eye pleasing effects.
That’s how the film as a whole works too. It is easy on the eyes and most importantly, is a hardcore family entertainer with no crime or adult elements in there which would have made none cringe. Considering the fact that the OTT medium is abound with these kind of elements in practically every outing, Coolie No. 1 comes across as a welcome relief.