Why? Just why? A question I have been meaning to ask David Dhawan for a while now and having to watch Coolie No. 1 just made me shout it out for him to answer. Why would you want to remake a film that dates so badly? Why would you not want to change any (almost) scene from the original trying to keep up with time? Why would you want caricaturish, pathetic and downright stupid acts presented as comedy in 2020? Ok. Granted that's not one question but that's literally the barrage that is waiting to explode while watching Coolie No. 1 (2020).
I would not waste your time talking about the plot if you have seen the original. Literally nothing has changed. For those who haven't, here's just a couple of lines - a greedy father who wants to have his two daughters get married to a filthy rich household is taught a lesson by a vengeful pandit, an innocent and loving porter (Coolie), and a clueless driver.
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I did not see Judwaa 2 so I cannot analyze how good/bad was that as a remake to compare director man's remake skills but purely based on Coolie No. 1, I can certainly say it should have probably been left alone. It is fascinating yet bewildering as to why would David Dhawan want to tarnish his own legacy by remaking his own films which are unchanged and more so unadaptable to the changing times.
In Main Tera Hero, it seemed like Varun Dhawan can pull off being goofy yet stupid, and over-the-top slapstick comedy - but Coolie No. 1 is an example that he probably cannot. In every single frame, you will miss Govinda where Dhawan, despite his earnest effort is unfunny, a terrible impersonator (a scene where he mimics multiple Hindi film industry legends is the perfect example of how badly he does it, especially Mithun Chakraborty) and at times even ridiculous with his dialogue delivery too. That was what was endearing about Govinda and has always been - he made stupid seem funny too somehow. Another thing you will immensely miss in this remake is the fantastic chemistry Kader Khan and Govinda had. Dhawan and Paresh Rawal look completely out of sorts and nothing funny comes out of their scenes together. Sara Ali Khan is given nothing to do but even in scenes where she has something, she falters badly.
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Seasoned and reliable actors like Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav, and Johnny Lever are reduced to utterly nonsensical dialogues presented as comedy. Imagine these three in a Priyadarshan film like old times? Much better, isn't it?
Apart from the scales being bigger, budgets being higher, whistle moments being worthy, absolutely nothing about Coolie No. 1 is funny or even chucklesome.
I am totally onboard with 'not-finding-logic' in masala entertainers or enjoying slapstick comedy (which many don't); but even that has to be either done with sheer conviction or articulated well. For instance, a film like Simmba had its moments of fun and funny both. The problem isn't that everybody has a preconceived notion about OTT acting and comedy; the problem is that some are not willing to make an effort and gets the brain racking to actually make it 'funny.'
The rousing (already-known) climax which was obviously troublesome to watch in 2020 as compared to in 1995 makes up just a bit for the two hour ten minute madness but it is certainly not enough.
It is exactly 25 years since the original Coolie No. 1 released. Maybe that should have been a realization point that this film should not be made. But in fact, Amazon Prime Video's trivia section says director Dhawan initially wanted to make another film of his - Saajan Chale Sasural (1996) but chose this instead. Which means there may be more remakes coming ahead. Ahm. Oh.
Rating - *1/2 (1.5/5)