Every once in a while, films like Coolie No. 1 remind of how strictly commercial films can make it despite being everything cinema doesn’t stand for.
Switching between two cities, Mumbai and Goa, Coolie No. 1 is the story of Raju. He bears luggage on the station and one day falls in love with Sarah’s picture that incidentally drops on his chest from thin air.
Adamant on marrying her, he stumbles upon Pandit Jai Kishen who also has an advantage in this matrimony. He takes Raju to Goa, where Sarah’s family owns a hotel.
In order to impress her family, Raju poses as a billionaire, and thus begins an obvious chain of lies and deception coupled with physical comedy.
While the core necessity to begin with any film is the story, Coolie No. 1 lacks that too. It seems like improvisation with stereotypical representations, is what David Dhawan had intended.
There is a certain expectation when one sits to watch David Dhawan remakes starring his son Varun Dhawan. And it is still not a pretty sight when that expectation is met.
Dhawan’s performance is nothing new from his other roles in films like Main Tera Hero and Judwaa 2. His overt physical comedy and the refusal to let go of it, is painful to sit through. He even does Mithun Chakraborty impressions along with many other needless ones.
Sara Ali Khan is barely starting out in the industry and this film is proof that she badly needs a change of genre. Her acting is worse than her debut role in Kedarnath. Her character is constantly objectified and she has no separate arc to her role. Whatever fits the male protagonist, is what she sits to validate.
Genuine comic talents such as Paresh Rawal and Rajpal Yadav also constitute the film. But when the likes of sexist rhyming and stuttering are the only elements to work with, there is little to no scope for any impact.
The film comments on class divide. That is what sets the stage for this elaborate deception. While it does miss the point shortly after it, at least the laying ground isn’t as haphazard as the film.
Everything about Coolie No. 1 is perpetually offensive. While there are good intentioned films that end up being offensive, Coolie No. 1 isn’t one of them. It is ignorant of any class, race or gender and clearly doesn’t care about the impact of stereotypical storytelling.
The concept of recreating certain films comes from either refurbishing the original masterpiece with a new texture, or correcting all the wrongs about the original. It was supposed to be the latter in this case. The 1995 film was filled with non-consensual stalking, eve-teasing, deception and lying. But the 2020 Coolie No. 1 is no better. It clearly takes it all one step further, visibly approving such representation in cinema.
The film is offensive to women as it objectifies them. It celebrates ‘back to the 90s’ Govinda films, as if it is something to be proud of. It is homophobic and transphobic. It uses cross-dressing as a comic element. It is filled with religion-based stereotypes too, something we thought we left behind long ago. And the worse of all, it is not sorry for being all that.
When it comes to the screenplay, it is far less important than shimmering costumes and sets. The story takes obvious turns and completes a challenge called ‘how worse can this get?’.
Coolie No. 1 was not even worth being a film, let alone a decent watch. If you’re not looking to witness the same film and new faces making matters worse, please do not go for it this weekend.