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Couldn’t say no to Coolie No 1: Varun Dhawan


Originally scheduled to arrive in theatres in May, Coolie No 1 will start streaming on Amazon Prime Video from December 25. A stylised remake of a cult comedy with oodles of mass appeal, Varun Dhawan is excited that Coolie No 1 is getting a festive release date, and audiences can watch it from the comfort of their homes.

In this interview with indianexpress.com, Varun talks about the experience of working with his father again, and how he was inspired by Govinda as a young actor.

Here are excerpts from the conversation:

The original Coolie No 1 is set to complete 25 years. How did it feel working on its remake?

It was an extremely special experience. The screenplay of Coolie No 1 was amazing back then and is amazing even today.

The story is about a poor boy looking for love. He is very innocent and goes beyond his means to find love. There is a moral to the story as well – that you shouldn’t be greedy for money like Sara’s dad, played by Pareshji, who wants to get his daughters married into wealthy families.

Coolie No 1 is just amazing material that you can’t say no to, and as an actor, I was greedy to do it.

How did the team make Coolie No 1 relevant and relatable?

It is very relevant and relatable because it is a love story, and love stories are timeless. A story about pure love can never go out of fashion.

It is also a classic comedy, and in today’s world, everybody needs to laugh more than ever. Our film has it all. It is a comedy of errors, and a family film. For a very long time, we have not had an out-and-out comedy that is meant for family viewing. Especially so for OTT platforms, as most of what they stream are dark and gritty. So, our aim is to end the year by making viewers laugh and spread some Christmas cheer. The whole family, including young and old, can watch the film together.

What are your thoughts on a film, which has such mass appeal, releasing on an OTT platform instead of theatres?

There are so many things that would be more fun outdoors, but given the circumstances, it is not safe to gather in one place. While theatres are open now, there is only 50% occupancy. So, we should be responsible and follow the rules laid down for our safety. Our film was originally scheduled to hit theatres in May, but the release had to be pushed back as we ran into the initial phase of the pandemic. Now, I don’t think there is a safer way than to watch it at home. And, Amazon Prime Video wants the theatre business to thrive as well. So, as and when it is safe, the film will be screened in theatres too. But as of now, this is the best and the safest way forward.

The remake will be compared to the 1995 version. Your thoughts.

We were kids when we saw the original Coolie No 1 but still have memories of that film. However, there is a generation, or many generations, who haven’t seen the original. So, for them, it is going to an entirely new experience. I always keep my young audience, especially children in mind when I do comedies. My objective is to make sure that parents take their little ones to the movies and have a good time watching the film. And if I can bring smiles to the faces of viewers, that’s even better.

Did David Dhawan try to recreate moments from the original film or was his approach totally fresh?

He never wanted to recreate the original. In fact, I remember the original so much that I was still doing that (recreating moments). For Sara, it was a completely new film, and she brought an element of freshness to the narrative. As far as he (David Dhawan) was concerned, he didn’t want to recreate even a single scene. He always wanted to do something new. So when you see the film, every scene will appear new or turned on its head.

Coolie No 1 was one of the finest and most successful collaborations between David Dhawan and Govinda. Do you think you will be able to recreate the magic with your father in this film?

When you talk about Hindi film comedies, everyone remembers David Dhawan and Govinda. They are synonymous with comedy in this country. So, every actor is inspired in some way or the other.

While you take that inspiration, your output should be an expression of your own experiences. What actors did then, actors don’t do today. Things are more straightforward, more subtle. However, it is very difficult doing what actors in the 90s did. I think conviction is the key. I need to be convinced that what I am doing is authentic and that it will resonate with the audience.

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