As Most David Dhawan Fans Will Tell You, Varun Dhawan's 'Coolie No. 1' Is Bad News

Like Disney is remaking its classic animated films into live-action, even David Dhawan's so-called 'remakes' are all about shameless cash-grabbing.

All kinds of films have a right to get made. Of course, there’s no doubt about it. The only time some of us begin to doubt this (usually) unquestionable truth of filmmaking, is when a lazy director tries to rehash his old tricks to make a quick buck, without the slightest of introspection. No, unlike popular belief, it’s not about begrudging a successful 200-crore film. But there are also arguments to be made against films, whose sole motivation to exist is to ONLY make money. David Dhawan announced yet another remake of one his 90s hit, this time it’s Coolie No. 1, with Varun Dhawan and Sara Ali Khan. Cue for many erstwhile fans of the original to groan collectively.

This is the second film after 2017’s Judwaa 2, that the father-son duo are remaking. The 2017 version was a literal remake of its predecessor, with only the setting changing from Bombay to London. Even by mainstream Hindi film’s low standards, Judwaa 2 is one of the laziest films to have made over 200 crore at the box office.

As someone who grew up on David Dhawan’s films, and appreciated their nonsensical ‘entertainment’ for the longest time, these Varun Dhawan versions have become painful to endure. How does one recreate Govinda’s effortlessness on screen? Or even the unapologetic buffoonery of (serious) actors like Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt and Paresh Rawal. Who remembers the whole Paresh Rawal-Govinda dynamic in Haseena Maan Jaayegi? Or the rapid-fire rhyming schemes exchanged between Kader Khan and Satish Kaushik? Or Govinda’s and Sadashiv Amrapurkar’s OTT-on-steroids enactment of the ‘rich’ in Coolie No. 1?

They might have been plagiarized and formulaic but David Dhawan’s 90s films couldn’t be termed lazy. Quite unlike Dhawan’s films in the past decade. It’s not like Dhawan has ever been regarded as a beacon of original ideas during his career, but ALL his films since 2007’s Partner have been remakes. Whether it is the director trying to recreate Kevin James’ klutzy-routine from Hitch with Govinda, or officially remaking Sai Paranjpye’s cult classic, Chashme Buddoor. Things hit a new low for Dhawan’s career with Judwaa 2, that couldn’t even replicate a fraction of the fun in the Govinda-starrers. However, considering how Judwaa 2 turned out to be the biggest hit of Dhawan Sr’s career, there’s a good chance that even the Coolie No. 1 will see Varun Dhawan trying to compensate for its blandness, with his unnecessary loud energy and colourful set-pieces.

Don’t be surprised, if they actually relocate the coolie to London’s Waterloo station. It’s the kind of taken-for-granted filmmaking that Dhawan has resorted to in recent years. Let’s face it, in spite of all his conviction, Varun Dhawan is no match for Govinda. A large part of the David Dhawan-Govinda collaborations was the actor’s own physical performances. Like Disney has been remaking its classic animated films into live-action (including Will Smith as Genie), even David Dhawan’s so-called ‘remakes’ are all about shameless cash-grabbing.

It’s unfortunate, because some of us still have memories of David Dhawan of the 90s, whose films (in spite of ALL their problems) were never dull. It wouldn’t be a crime to at least try to make the films feel a little less-dated, no? These remakes give an impression of a magician, desperately searching for relevance, two decades after his tricks were made public.