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Coolie (1983)

Coolie- 03 Coolie- 04


Produced By Ketan Desai
Directed By Manmohan Desai,
Prayag Raj
Music By Laxmikant - Pyarelal
Amitabh Bachchan Rati Agnihotri
Rishi Kapoor Shoma Aanand
Satyen Kappu Waheeda Rehman
Suresh Oberoi Kader Khan

Click HERE for a complete listing of Cast & Crew.


It is extremely difficult to summarize the plot in short for the story has several sub-plots and situations that require a seasoned Hindi movie buff to decipher.

In a nutshell, it goes something like this. Zafar Khan (played by Kader Khan) is obsessed with Salma (Waheeda Rehman) and wants to marry her at any cost.

However, Salma and her father do not consent, Zafar kills the father, is arrested, and imprisoned for 10 years only to find out on his return that Salma has married Aslam Khan (Satyen Kappu) and has a son called Iqbal (Amitabh Bachchan). Zafar sabotages a dam, drowns Salma's village & abducts Salma. (Yes, a dam nothing less).

Salma however has lost her memory, doctor advises another child and Zafar arranges for one from an orphanage. Iqbal is rescued by his uncle and raised whereas Zafar's son Sunny (Rishi Kapoor) from orphanage is actually the uncle's son and Iqbal's cousin. Iqbal grows up to be a Coolie (porter) on the railway station and some sort of a local leader. Sunny is a struggling reporter with a local newspaper. The plot is further complicated by the two heroines Julie (Rati Agnihotri) who is out for revenge from Aslam (Iqbal's father) for her father's death (guest appearance Amrish Puri) and Deepa (Shoma Aanand) who is a childhood sweetheart of Sunny. Turns out that the Julie's culprit is Zafar as well. (Zafar seems to be everywhere and yet there is no sign of police)

As story unfolds, all lost and found cases are returned to their roots and Zafar is confronted by Iqbal and Sunny and punished for his wrong doings.


There is one common bond between all Bachchan movies of the 80s and that is their larger than life depiction of everything and the unrealistic situations and sequences that hold the story line. However, I guess all these movies are still high on the entertainment quotient and it is largely because of the charisma that big B holds till date.

The lost and found formula has been a part of almost all Manmohan Desai flicks and it works in this piece as well. The sincerity with which all actors have acted out the most bizarre situations is amazing.

Let us begin with Kader Khan's obsession with not so young looking Waheeda Rehman. His submerging an entire village by sabotaging a dam is truly an outstanding act to win a lady's love. (I am amazed somebody even thought of such a situation). Nobody takes him to task for the massacre is a different story altogether.

The lost and found rituals and the memory loss has been a tested formula. However, I have in my life never come across anyone with a memory loss myself. (OK, I am not talking about students during examination time). The doctor's diagnosis and prescription about giving the lost Salma another child is again one small step for a doctor  and one giant leap for medical science.

I bow down to Amitabh sir for essaying the role with such a conviction that nothing seems out of place. Not even his kidnapping the heroine from her house, breaking the furniture at Suresh Oberoi's place or taking in 6 bullets and surviving in the climax.

Coolie- 16The chemistry between Rati Agnihotri and Amitabh is amazing. He abducts her, brings her to his home and chains her to a bed and still when she hears about news of his staged death, she comes weeping dressed in black and confesses "Pehli baar jab maine tumhe railway station par dekha toh mere dil mein kuch hua" Coolie- 31(Now that I regard as some serious upbringing issue). She continues "Tum sabke saamne mujhe 'Luggage' ki tarah uthaa ke apne ghar le gaye. Dar-asal tumhari yehi ada, yehi mardaangi mujhe pasand aa gayi". So clearly if you love someone, kidnap her.

Another aspect worth mentioning about the movie is the little love story between Shoma Aanad and Rishi Kapoor. Incidentally they are childhood sweethearts and miss each other so much that Shoma Aanad becomes a junkie and Rishi Kapoor an alcoholic as they grow up. Coolie- 12However, none of them thought of noting down each other's address or writing to each other and being in touch all the years. They did get large wall size prints of the school photo that they had and lived by it all the time though. The song follows "Mujhe Peene ka shauq nahi, peeta hoon gham bhulaane ko".

Hmmm.. I sure wish they had Orkut or Facebook in their times. It's a lot of 'gham' otherwise flowing freely in this big bad world.

Coolie- 28The movie however has its moments and these are largely the comic scenes perfected by Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor with such ease that you double up even at the slapstick fare. Be it Rishi Kapoor eating the newspapers with Sambhar or Amitabh Bachchan cooking the omelette with the Yoga session on radio.

I wonder who does not know how to cook an egg otherwise?

Coolie- 36I guess the greatest USP of the film produced by Ketan Desai and directed by Prayag Raj and Manmohan Desai was the injury that Mr. Bachchan sustained during a fight sequence when Puneet Issar "accidently" hit Amitabh Bachchan in his abdomen.

Coolie- 35

The film had to be shelved for several weeks before the shooting could be resumed. So much was the hype created around the movie that Manmohan Desai actually froze a frame and added the captions in the final release footage about the same.  


Coolie- 32On the music front, I guess Laxmikant Pyarelal have done a reasonably fair job. "Accident ho gaya Rabba Rabba" I remember was a hit and so was "Humko Ishak hua hai yaaron" sung by Shabbir Kumar. 


Coolie- 11I still sing "Saari Duniya ka bojh hum uthaate hain" every time I carry shopping bags for my wife. There is another song thrown in for haj yatris which goes like "Madeene wale ko mera salaam kehnaa".


VTS_02_1.VOB_000579571Personally I like "Jawaani ki rail kahin chhoot naa jaaye". The song and choreography sure is naughty and suggestive.  I could see similar steps in Accident ho gaya and Jawaani ki rail, looks like doing dance steps was fairly simple then.


Coolie- 06 I guess there is something about Amitabh in this movie that makes it such a special one. The opening sequence where he leaps in the air and runs towards the train is imprinted in the minds of many. 


Coolie- 07I remember Mallika Sehrawat admitted on a chat show having been smitten by that running shot. Apart from that I guess the climax where Kader Khan empties a revolver on Amitabh and he takes in all the bullets is a high energy scene as well. 


All in all, this one is a great Sunday entertainer. Ideal treat for all Indian Masala lovers. Just ensure that you don't think too much during the course of the movie. Sip some cola, grab some popcorn and watch it for pure Big B Magic alone.


Roopa said...

Great work!!!

The Cloudcutter said...

I've never watched this movie, can you believe it?

Himanshu Tandon said...

Mail me your address CC and I shall courier you a DVD. I am sure you shall go crazy laughing. (No offence to Bachchan Sir though)