Hero No. 1 turns 25: Despite its many ‘inspirations’, David Dhawan-Govinda-Karisma Kapoor film remains iconic for audience

It might be 25 years that Hero No 1 released but it is still a barrel of laughs when it airs on television even today. What’s kept it among our list of favourite 1990s comedies? Was it the songs “Sona Kitna Sona Hai” or “UP Wala Thumka“, or Govinda’s crackling chemistry with Karisma Kapoor? Govinda had in 1987 said that he enjoys doing everything from acting to drama, though he feels he’s best at dancing. And Hero No. 1 had it all.

It took Govinda and David Dhawan nearly ten movie collaborations till they cracked the ‘No. 1’ series of films. The actor-director duo struck gold and eventually gave Bollywood a hit series that kicked off with Coolie No. 1 in 1995, following it up with Hero No. 1 in 1997, and more. “Call it luck or superstition, but all those films fared pretty well at the box office and I followed the trend for a while,” David Dhawan said in the past.

So when news came out in 2017 that Hero No. 1 was heading for a remake by producer Vashu Bhagnani, starring Varun Dhawan, audience vowed that its success cannot with matched.

Why so, when Hero No. 1 borrowed its theme from Rajesh Khanna-starrer Bawarchi (1972), which in itself was a remake of Bengali film Galpo Holeo Satti? Probably because how Dhawan captured a love story for the new-age Bollywood and gave it a fresh and vibrant treatment. It encapsulated a family drama and oodles of laughs as the boy tries to convince the girl’s family after leaving his privileged life and turns a cook.

karisma kapoor govinda hero no 1 David Dhawan, Govinda and Karisma Kapoor were a hit trio in 1990s.

To cast Govinda as the main lead wasn’t a tough choice either. A character who required to deliver not just comic punches, but even streaks of innocence and romance while appeasing his lady love suited the actor to the T. “I would say that he (Govinda) is like a spoilt younger brother whose funny bone was discovered by me. In fact, it was through my movies that the comedy tag started to follow him,” director David Dhawan previously told IANS.

Looking back today, it would be impossible to think of anyone else replicating the scene where Govinda gets ready for his office while driving a car, even if we tell you that it was taken from an episode of TV show, Mr. Bean, The Trouble with Mr. Bean (1992). In fact the movie had many scenes inspired from Navri Mile Navryala too. But despite that, the audience still happily lapped up the sequences.

When Hero No. 1 came, Karisma was fast climbing the ladder of success. She had found a comfortable footing in the David Dhawan-Govinda camp, underwent an image makeover with Raja Hindustani (1996) and was months away from the release of one of her biggest films, Dil To Pagal Hai.

Karisma Kapoor had another David Dhawan release the same year — Judwaa. While that film had two actresses, Karisma was the one leading Hero No 1. We got to see Karisma donning Manish Malhotra minis and dresses in the first half, and her lovely Neeta Lulla suits and churidars in the second half. Needless to say, her pairing with Govinda was a sure shot box office success.

Hero No. 1  is also among the few David Dhawan films that had a massive budget and was shot across France, Switzerland and Germany. Even the cast was hand-picked with ace actors like Kader Khan, Paresh Rawal, Himani Shivpuri, Satish Shah, Rita Bhaduri, and Tiku Talsania, among others.

The songs of this film have a special appeal for the millennials. Such was the popularity, that its “Main Tujhko Bhaga Laya Hoon” was even sampled by New York-based hip-hop group, Non Phixion in their hit “We All Bleed”.

govinda hero no 1 Govinda plays a rich-brat who turns a cook at his lady love’s house in Hero No. 1

Hero No. 1 had competition from other mega hits the same year — Border, Ishq, Dil To Pagal Hai, Pardes, Gupt, Judaai, Koyla and Judwaa. Yet, it had managed to emerge as one of the biggest blockbusters and has stayed in our memories. So, we absolutely didn’t mind when Govinda sang “Tere Baap Ke Darr Se”, given he should actually be singing it for the Dada (grandfather) as Karisma had no father in the film!

Hero No. 1 gave Govinda a tag that he’s lived up to in his film career. Even when he had to open his restaurant in Delhi in 2016, he named it ‘Hero No. 1’. Despite his family feud with nephew Krushna Abhishek, the latter had told indianexpress.com, “For me, he has been and will always be my Hero No 1.”

In David Dhawan’s words, “Making people cry is very easy, but tickling their funny bones and making them cry out of sheer laughter is an art.” He knows it too well. Go revisit Hero No. 1 to know why.

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