The worlds of Columbia University and David Dhawan films have little in common. Yet, Sara Ali Khan, an Ivy League alumnus, straddles the two distinct universes comfortably. Come Christmas, she will be seen in Coolie No 1 opposite Varun Dhawan. Stating that the audience has fond memories of the original 1995 comedy, she hopes to be a perfect fit in the remake.
“My brother [Ibrahim] and his friends haven’t watched the original. Dhanush sir, my Atrangi Re co-star, doesn’t know much about Hindi films. But almost everyone in India knows about the song, Main toh raste se jaa raha tha,” says Khan, adding that stepping into Karisma Kapoor’s shoes was a tall order. “Govinda and Karisma are institutions in themselves; one shouldn’t even try to copy them.”
Saif Ali Khan
The actor considers herself fortunate to be inducted into the comedy scene by the best in the business, David. One may almost assume she has the genes for it – after all, parents Saif Ali Khan and Amrita Singh have often been celebrated for their comic timing. “I am not as spontaneous as my dad or my mother. It’s all about reacting to what the other person says. It’s a difficult genre to crack. Varun helped me improve my comic timing. He is much more experienced in this genre.”
In the 25 years since the original hit the screens, movies have gone beyond being mindless entertainers. Today, the film’s plot – a porter duping his ladylove by concealing his true identity – can be viewed as deeply problematic. However, Khan insists the Amazon Prime Video offering must be seen through the lens of humour.
“I’d urge people to watch the film with the honest intention with which it is told. There is a difference between what you say on Twitter, and what an entertaining comedy tries to say. If everybody [expects] everything to be politically correct, any scope of humour in our lives will be [lost]. Of course, you can’t be demeaning. Govinda sir duping Karisma to make her believe that he is not a coolie, is funny. It’s not about him cheating. Ultimately, he falls in love with her, and that’s what most of us look forward to in life.”
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