Film review: Coolie, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Rati Agnihotri, Rishi Kapoor (2024)

In his latest movieCoolie,though, Manmohan Desai seems to have got his recipe wrong and forgotten the meat for the masala.

Coomi Kapoor

ISSUE DATE: Dec 31, 1983 | UPDATED: Jul 3, 2014 12:20 IST

Film review: Coolie, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Rati Agnihotri, Rishi Kapoor (2)

Amitabh Bachchan in Coolie: All masala and no meat

Produced and directed by Manmohan Desai and Prayad Raj
Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Rati Agnihotri, Rishi Kapoor, Shoma Anand, Suresh Oberoi and Kader Khan

With a string of box-office blockbusters behind him - including Amar Akbar Anthony, Dharamveer, Naseeb and Suhaag - director Manmohan Desai can rightly claim to have a special understanding of audience tastes.


There is, however, he modestly insists, no sure-fire formula for a hit: "It is 75 per cent luck and 25 per cent my trade secret." And elaborating this secret, he says: "Just as food requires salt and spices in the right proportion to make it tasty, I try to put the right amount of everything in my film." In his latest movie Coolie, though, the master entertainer seems to have got his recipe wrong and forgotten the meat for the masala.

Even before its release. Coolie had become part of film folklore as the movie in which Amitabh Bachchan was seriously injured before making a spectacular recovery (India Today August 31, 1982). To get maximum mileage, the dramatic punch scene shot has been frozen twice and a subtitle announces that this is the historic moment when disaster struck temporarily, on July 25,1982.

Film review: Coolie, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Rati Agnihotri, Rishi Kapoor (3)

Amitabh Bachchan with Rati Agnihotri: A still from the film

After Bachchan miraculously recovered, Desai felt that art had to imitate life and though originally the plot called for Bachchan to die at the end, the script was changed to make him survive even after being riddled with bullets.

Excitement Aplenty: Desai says: "To hoodwink a public into watching spellbound for three hours is no mean art and something these so-called art movies can never achieve." Coolie offers plenty of stock-in-trade "thrills and delights".

Among them: a village flood scene following the bursting of a dam, a Haj pilgrimage ship and prayers in Mecca, a romance scene in which the hero and heroine push Rs 16,000 worth of oranges down the Western Ghats, a razzle-dazzle political meeting with a cast of thousands, a trained falcon costing Rs 1.5 lakh in hire charges, plus an endless sequence of fight scenes, chase scenes and songs .and dances.

With all that at his disposal, Desai obviously felt no need for a plot and improvises with his favourite theme of characters gelting lost and found for which he says he drew his inspiration from the Mahabharat.

Since nothing succeeds like excess; the heroes, heroines, villains, mothers, fathers and children all at various points get misplaced and rediscover each other over a decade later - with so many of them peppered through the plot, even the script- writer gets casual about the reunions and the scenario at times resembles a lost property office.

Desai describes his films as hero-oriented and action packed. Of the two heroes, Iqbal (Bachchan) and Sunny (Rishi Kapoor), Bachchan is his favourite - his lucky star whom he has cast in every film since Amur Akbar Anthony. Bachchan, after his recovery, continued the interrupted film shooting by gamely enacting many more punching bouts.

The action includes him jumping in slow motion from a roof, and at one stage, like Tarzan with Jane, he props Julie (Rati Agnihotri) on his shoulder and carries her off.

Wide Variety: Desai admits that his heroines Julie and Deepa (Shoma Anand) are meant to be just props but their fresh-faced looks do show up Bachchan's age a bit. Still, whether he is spouting bombastic speeches on the upliftment of the coolies or performing such slapstick comedy as sitting on an egg and hatching a chicken, he tries to look unembarrassed and puts his soul into it. Salma (Waheeda Rehman), his long-separated mother, tries equally hard to take her part seriously.


The script stresses egalitarianism by making the illiterate coolie marry a spoiled rich girl. And to bridge the gulf in their prospects, the coolie has to join politics. As villain Zafer Khan (Kader Khan) notes: "When all other businesses fail, try the elections."

Given Desai's past directorial successes, the odds are heavily in favour of a jubilee run for this Rs 3 crore bit of nonsense. But it just could be that the icing is laid on too thick and while tastes may have changed, the super-entertainer's formula has not. The reaction of people leaving the film could well be: Haven't we seen this somewhere before?

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Published On:

Jan 31, 2014

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Film review: Coolie, starring Amitabh Bachchan, Rati Agnihotri, Rishi Kapoor (2024)


How much money did Coolie No. 1 make? ›

What is the original Coolie movie? ›

Coolie is a 1983 Indian action comedy film, directed by Manmohan Desai and written by Kader Khan. The film stars Amitabh Bachchan as Iqbal Aslam Khan, a railway coolie, who was separated from his mother Salma (Waheeda Rehman) due to Zafar's (Kader Khan) obsession with her.

Is Coolie No. 1 a remake? ›

The film stars Govinda, Karisma Kapoor, Kader Khan, Shakti Kapoor, Harish Kumar, Sadashiv Amrapurkar and Mahesh Anand, with music by Anand–Milind. The film is a remake of the Tamil film Chinna Mapillai (1993). S.K. Enterprises Ltd.

Where can I watch Coolie No. 1 new? ›

Watch Coolie No. 1 Video Online(HD) On JioCinema.

Was Bhediya hit or flop? ›

Raj Mehta's 'Jug Jug Jiyo' was a hit at the box office and the film was well received and received positive reviews. However, Amar Kaushik's 'Bhediya' was considered an average hit, and the film received mixed responses from audiences and critics and performed averagely at the box office.

Where did they film Coolie number 1? ›

According to IMDb, the majority of the 1995 film was shot in Mumbai's studios. The shooting of old Coolie No. 1 happened at the popular Filmcity in Andheri as well as the Kamalistan Studios. A few scenes from the comedy-drama movie were also filmed at a place called Harmesh Villa.

Who is the hero of Coolie No. 1? ›

Coolie No. 1 is a 2020 Indian Hindi-language comedy masala film directed by David Dhawan and produced by Vashu Bhagnani. A reboot of the 1995 film of the same name, which itself is a remake of the Tamil film Chinna Mapillai (1993), the film stars Varun Dhawan, Sara Ali Khan, and Paresh Rawal.

How many songs are there in Coolie No. 1? ›

There are a total of 4 songs in Coolie No. 1. The songs were composed by talented musicians such as Javed-Mohsin, Tanishk Bagchi, and Salim-Sulaiman.

Is Coolie No 1 a good movie? ›

This is the remake of 1995 hit Coolie No 1 but fails to entertain as much as the original movie does, even now. David dhawan sticks to the original story but many changes can be seen in the movie. Obviously this movie has been shot in 2020 so the set looks more modern and vivid but it misses the touch of old hit.

Is Varun Dhawan married? ›

I remember seeing her and, when I saw her that day, I felt like I fell in love with her." Varun Dhawan and Natasha Dalal got married in January 2021 at the Mansion House in Alibaug. Their wedding was a low-key affair with only friends and family in attendance. Filmmaker Karan Johar was also part of the ceremony.

Who is the heroine of Husn Hai Suhana? ›

Karisma Kapoor recalls shooting of 'Husn Hai Suhana' with Govinda.

What is the net worth of Varun Dhawan? ›

The Bollywood actor, known for his roles in several hit films, is not just making headlines with his personal life but also his impressive wealth. On the occasion of his 37th birthday today, let's check out his net worth. As of now, Varun Dhawan's net worth is estimated to be around Rs 381 crore.

How much did Don 2 earn? ›

With a box office gross of over ₹202.81 crore (US$25 million), Don 2 was a global box office blockbuster. At the time of its release, the film was the 3rd highest-grossing Hindi film of 2011.

How much did Judwaa 2 make? ›

How much did Gully make? ›

Domestic Cumulative Box Office Records
Top 2021 Movies at the Domestic Box Office (Rank 201-300)276$22,517
All Time Domestic Highest Grossing Limited Release Movies (Rank 6,801-6,900)6,810$22,517
All Time Domestic Inflation Adjusted Box Office for Limited Release Movies (Rank 7,101-7,200)7,193$23,867
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