35 Years of Coolie: A Reminder of a Time When Secularism Wasn’t a Bad Word

Bollywood

35 Years of Coolie: A Reminder of a Time When Secularism Wasn’t a Bad Word

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

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nce upon a time, Durga Puja pandals played, “Madine wale se mera salaam kehna,” because playing hit Hindi film songs was a standard thing to do. In those days, we didn’t have to worry about someone congratulating us for being so secular, or someone condemning us for Islamicising a Hindu festival. We didn’t consciously think of turning everyday actions into political statements. We were naïve. We took secularism for granted, even though history had repeatedly showed us we were wrong; we believed in harmony and the kind of India Manmohan Desai idealised for us.

Coolie is a film that tells us that chaos will eventually be restored, that truth and justice will prevail over falsehood and avarice. It is also a story about finding your roots and reconnecting with your family and loved ones. However, for most of us, Coolie is the film that almost killed Amitabh Bachchan.

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