For 15 years, Govinda ruled the marquee as the quintessential paisa-vasool entertainer, before the actor stepped out of the spotlight to make way for a brush with politics, between 2004 and 2009.The infamously unsuccessful stint was followed by two false starts at the movies in 2014, when he was put in significant roles in two forgettable movies – ‘Kill Dill’ and ‘Happy Ending’.
Three years on, the 53-year-old actor is looking for another lease of life close on the heels of an upcoming production. Govinda brings us up-to-date with all that transpired in the interim, the struggle that he faced getting the film off the ground, friends in the film industry who have turned away and why it’s time to return to the arc-lights…
Where have you been hiding?
I was waiting for the opportune moment to come out and talk. From 2004 to 2009 I was busy with politics and films took a backseat. From 2009 to the present day it’s been a long and arduous journey. I did nine odd films, including ‘Partner’ and ‘Bhagam Bhag’, but I was not the hero and my heart was not in these films.
Y ou also did films like ‘Holiday’, ‘Kill Dill’ and ‘Happy Ending’…
They were for my wife Sunita. There was a phase when only character roles were being offered to me and I tried to duck out of them but Sunita who is more in sync with changing times and told me I should choose the best from what I was being offered instead of chasing after imaginary rainbows. She’s stood by me through so many ups and downs and realising my career wasn’t working to my plan, wanted me to stay in circulation.
How did you convince Sunita you could be a hero again?
One day I told her I needed to restart my career again and I needed her support. I pointed out that all the other heroes have launched home productions so they can do the kind of work they want to and pleaded with her to give me a chance too.
She was apprehensive, asking who’d support me and write scripts for me. I promised her that I’d work hard and with God’s support, I’d be fine. I’ve cut ribbons to finance my production, written the songs myself and even supervised the action. I’m confident I still have it in me to entertain people.
You’re certainly looking fit.
If I say I’m a hero, I have to look the part.
But leading men come in all shapes and sizes, it’s a myth that only a man with a six-pack can be a hero.
Younger actors like Ranveer Singh and Varun Dhawan are often asked if they’ve modelled their moves and mannerisms on you.
The question makes me happy. People are constantly talking about me, copying some of my mannerisms, you can see flashes of Govinda everywhere while the original has gone missing. It’s time to bring him to the forefront again.
Why have director friends like Anees Bazmee and David Dhawan gone missing from your roster?
After I returned from politics, I started asking questions and many people were uncomfortable to realise that I could read their minds. My doors are open to everyone but I have no time for loose talk.
So you’re saying you no longer have any friends in the industry?
(Sighs) There are no permanent friends here. And while I’m craving, I’m not crying, while I’m wanting, I’m not dying, while I’m expecting, I don’t expect anyone to just support me unless they truly believe in me. Right now I’m the one who believes in me. My good times were the result of several people’s prayers and wishes. You need to thank the Universe when things are good and stand your ground when things are not. It’s a karmic cycle.
My wife often asks me till when am I going to do all this? I tell her that I’ve done a lot for some undeserving people, now I want to do something for myself.
Suffering because of lack of money is the worst suffering in the world. It is a pain you can not show, particularly if you’re famous.
You’ve got to be thick skinned to admit in public that meri band baji hui hai. I’m a sensitive guy so I suffer silently.
But Salman Khan offered you films with huge signing amounts…
Salman is like a brother but one of the subjects was slightly arty, our understanding and interpretation of the script was different. He brought a huge signing amount but I wasn’t comfortable taking it because I was not convinced about the project. I needed the money but my heart wouldn’t allow me to take it. I told the director Mahesh Manjrekar that offbeat cinema is for an actor with a terrific and deep understanding of the medium.Govinda has been made for commercial, entertaining cinema. Once when some people suggested they make a wax statue of me, I told them that I had done nothing to deserve a place in a museum.