While filming an action scene, Amitabh Bachchan was doing his own stunts. He had to fall onto a table and then on the ground. But when he jumped towards the table, the corner of the table hit his abdomen. He had a splenic rupture and lost a large amount of blood. He was flown out and needed urgent operation (splenectomy) and was critically ill for a while. A rumor spread that he had died from the accident. The nation (most of it anyway) mourned. Later there were mile-long queues of well-wishing fans outside the hospital where he was recuperating.
During the fighting scene where Amitabh Bachchan was injured, the moment is marked with a freeze frame, and a message is displayed in English, Hindi, and Urdu - "This is the shot in which AMITABH BACHCHAN was seriously injured".
A poster of the movie Gopichand Jasoos (1982) appears in the background of the railway platform when Iqbal has his first fighting encounter with Vicky. Gopichand Jasoos starred Raj Kapoor who is the father of 'Rishi kapoor' who plays the role of Sunny in Coolie.
Amitabh Bachchan commented on the accident saying that Ironically he had done lot of stunts in the film which were risky but nothing happened, like jumping from the railway Bogey or rolling down the steps.
Amitabh Bachchan's character was originally die in the climax, but it was decided that after his real-life fight with death during the shoot, the audience would not accept his death in the movie. So the climax was changed and a happy ending was shot.
Puneet Issar whose fight scene caused injury to Amitabh Bachchan became out of work after he cause injury to the star to survive in the industry he started working in B grade films as no producer director wanted to work with him.
Two days before the Amitabh Bachchan's injury, Smita Patil had seen a dream of Amitabh Bachchan being seriously injured on sets of the film and she called to check about his health where Amitabh Bachchan told her he was fine but tragedy happened two days later after his fight scene went wrong with Puneet Issar.
Amitabh Bachchan received 60 bottles of blood from 200 donors, one of whom was carrying the Hepatitis B virus. Bachchan recovered from the accident, but discovered in 2000 that the virus had resulted in cirrhosis of the liver, which damaged about 75% of his liver. Bachchan later spoke out about his experience to raise awareness about the Hepatitis B vaccine.
Puneet Issar had said in an interview that after his injury Amitabh Bachchan did not have any regrets for him and told him that accidents keep on happening on film sets and it happened between him and Vinod Khanna during the shoot of Hera Pheri 1976,he also said that his wife had donated blood to the star.
Anita raaj was to be the heroine opposite amitabh bachchan, when 'coolie' started than rati aghnihotri played the role and the film had prayaj raaj as the director of the film, later manmohan desai had too add his name as co-director to make distributors happy. As mohdrafi was no more,this film was singer shabir kumar major break he got all songs of coolie to sing in rafi style.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Manmohan Desai originally proposed a sad ending for the film. Amitabh was to die in the climax, but it was decided that after Amitabh's real-life fight with death during the shoot, the audience would not accept his death in the movie. So the climax was changed and a happy ending was shot.