Bollywood: Why Rajpal Yadav was thrilled to work with Johny Lever in 'Coolie No.1'

Mumbai - The actor says the hilarious film will make you forget all your worries for a couple of hours.

Rajpal Yadav with Bharti Achrekar in a scene from 'Coolie No.1'. (Photo/Supplied)
Rajpal Yadav with Bharti Achrekar in a scene from 'Coolie No.1'. (Photo/Supplied)

Enid Grace Parker

Published: Tue 22 Dec 2020, 12:34 PM

Bollywood actor Rajpal Yadav is thrilled that he gets to play an iconic role in the rebooted Coolie No.1 - that of ‘Mama’, played by Shakti Kapoor in the 1995 original helmed by David Dhawan.

49-year-old Yadav found success in both negative and comic roles since his debut in Bollywood with the film Dil Kya Kare, and has been nominated several times for his comic performances in films like Hungama (2003), Kal Ho Naa Ho (2003) and Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007).

Rajpal, who joins an assortment of talented comedians like Paresh Rawal, Jaaved Jaaferi and Johny Lever for Coolie No. 1, says the ‘best moments’ of his life are when he gets screen time with his idol, Lever, who he describes as one of a kind.

We caught up with Yadav to find out more about his role in the movie and what fans can expect in the way of laughs.

What can you tell us about your role in Coolie No.1?

I am thrilled I got to play the role of ‘Mama’, played by Shakti Kapoor in the original Coolie No.1; he is amongst the most important characters in the film. I am humbled to get a chance to play this role in the remake of one of the best comedy films in the history of Indian cinema.

With so many comedians - Paresh Rawal, Johny Lever, Jaaved Jaaferi - to work with, was it a lot of fun on set? Whose work do you admire most?

Since the time I entered Bollywood, I have been quite close to Johny sir, Paresh sir and Jaaved sir. From 1990 till the 2000s, Johny sir has been one amongst those who have ruled Bollywood. After romantic leads, he was the one who was trusted to enhance the film with his talent. Today, stand-up comedy is a lifeline for many and Johny sir is the one who started that trend in India. So, whatever time I get with him, it is like counselling time for me. I can say that there is only one Johny Lever in this world and there can be no one like him. When I get a chance to appear on screen with Jonny Sir it’s like icing on the cake. However small or big screen time I get with him, those are the best moments in my life.

Many people are comparing the new Coolie No.1 with the original starring Govinda. What would you say to them - why should they watch your film?

Govinda was a legend when he did this movie and still is. David Dhawan on the other hand is the god of entertainment for Indian families. When they both come together, they produce pure magic, just like we saw 25 years ago in Coolie No 1.

These days there is so much going on in the real world that I don’t think anyone would want to watch a movie where they have to use their brains. The new Coolie No.1 is one such movie that you can watch leaving all your worries behind, and just enjoy two hours of sheer laughter.

As someone who graduated from the prestigious National School of Drama and moved on to television and Bollywood, how would you describe your journey in the entertainment industry?

I have been lucky enough to work with amazing directors who have taught and moulded me into the performer that I am today. I have had the chance to work with some extremely talented co-actors who have motivated me to do my best.

When I was a part of NSD, as a student back in 1995, I used to be in love with Govinda as an actor along with Charlie Chaplin. Both these actors were my inspirations and motivation before I even started out in the industry. Then in 2001, when I got a chance to work with Amitabh Bachchan, I immediately was in awe of him. I think I have been blessed during my journey and I cannot be more grateful to everyone who has helped me throughout the way.

You have received critical acclaim for both negative and comic roles - which do you prefer?

I believe that every actor has his/her unique talent, and our motto is to bring joy and entertainment to families paying to see us perform. For me, personally, comedy and entertainment are the key to touch audiences’ hearts and that’s what I prefer.

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