Good Honest Interview
As Govinda celebrates his silver jubilee in B-Town, he talks about his journey so far and what has kept him going
Govinda has completed 25 years in Bollywood this year. He is looking fitter after losing 28 kgs (from a rather heavy 108 kgs) and has just started a new film called Avatar. The actor shares his experiences down the years, why he suddenly became a recluse, his political career and his relationship with Salman Khan, among other things.
So you’re making a comeback again, this time with Avatar. You’re looking fit too. Thank you. I have realised the importance of being fit and healthy. As for my comeback, after leaving politics I did Partner and Bhagaam Bhaag, and they did well. So for the first time, I decided to work with directors like Ravi Chopra and Mani Ratnam. Unfortunately, all my films got stuck at the same time.
Apparently it was during this time that you went into a depression and became a recluse. I don’t get depressed. I know that whatever God does is for my betterment. I stopped discussing my stalled films and started going out the way we do in politics – from door to door. I asked Pahlajji (Nihalani), who was starting Avatar, if he would sign me and he did. I am doing another film called Dhurandhar, and a third film that will be announced soon. With these films, I have started my career again.
Do you feel the film industry could have done more for you? No. I have knocked on several producers and directors’ doors, and discovered that people are not bad if your own intentions are not bad. But yes, I feel I could have done much more for myself, if I had planned my career instead of just signing whatever films came my way. I could have done great cinema, but people who do great cinema don’t come to you if you’re an overly commercial actor. If they do come to you, they come with characters you don’t want to play.
But now this has changed… After I went into politics, I realised I should meet everyone. Remaining aloof doesn’t make a difference to anyone but yourself. I stopped socialising because I wanted to be alone with my thoughts, but it didn’t work. All that I couldn’t do when I was acting in films I did during my enforced break – like working out and getting into business also. Now I am enjoying myself. My wife Sunita bought two bungalows in Kolkata and Darjeeleing, so we often go there. I have got a lot of love, luck and respect from the people in Kolkata.
Why did you leave politics? I felt I am not a poltician. There were no politicans in the family before me. The people in my family couldn’t adjust to the political atmosphere around me. I didn’t want my political ambitions to cause stress or trauma for my family. I didn’t want any name, fame or money at the cost of my family. I left politics after the accident in my family.
What did you do after you quit? After I left politics in 2007, I decided to get back into cinema. It was a very difficult time for me. I called David Dhawan and asked him for work. Partner and Bhagaam Bhaag happened and from there things started moving. But there was still a problem (laughs)! I was working with two of India’s most handsome and fittest actors – Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar – and I was 108 kgs. Everyday they would praise me for my shot but I couldn’t believe them. I would stand next to them and feel I wasn’t looking like a hero at all.
How did you lose so much weight? I decided to get a different lifestyle. I stopped eating dinner completely. It was torture for me as I love food. I also stopped eating sweets and rich foods like ghee and butter, which I used to eat a lot. I followed my own Ayurvedic diet as I have done a lot of reading on it. I do yoga and jog 45 minutes everyday. Now I have lost 28 kgs.
It’s been 25 years since your first film Ilzaam in 1986. Few people know that Ilzaam was actually called Jhootha Ilzaam. I was shooting for Love 86 in a studio when Rikku Rakeshnath came and told me that Mithun has left Ilzaam and that I should show the producer my work. Rikku took a video of mine to Pahlajji and and I signed the film at 9 pm that night. After the film was completed, it wasn’t getting sold. One day Pahlajji came home and mummy asked him to change the title to Ilzaam. After that, the film became a super hit but I never had time to enjoy its success as I started getting so many offers!
How has the journey been? As a star, I couldn’t have had it better. I did successful films every year. I did struggle for some time.. but even when I went into politics my star status never suffered. After my mother passed away, it was a very tough time for me. Those four years were not good for me. I didn’t know what to do. She was an extremely important person in my life. It sounds good when you are called a mamma’s boy, but such children don’t grow up to become confident in life. They take time to mature and become independent. I was never street smart. It took years for me to recover from my mother’s death. She was a great lady who looked after the family for years as our dad was unwell.
Please continue… Mummy never wanted me to be a hero as she felt I would drink and smoke, so I promised her that I wouldn’t touch a drop of alcohol or smoke at home, and I didn’t. I did everything outside, choron ki taarah idhar udhar. We would eat non-veg food downstairs, as it wasn’t allowed at home.
From the Virar ka chokra, you became known as the dancing super star… When I became a star, I never got a chance to understand my stardom. I never had time to enjoy my stardom as I was busy shooting films by the dozen to sustain my family. Who has time to enjoy success when you have so much work? I have done over 120 films. I am happy looking back on these 25 years on the work front, but on the personal front my family and I went through many ups and downs. My family suffered a lot because of me and that saddens me…
On the professional front… I didn’t get many awards, but that never bothered me. Hamesha awards mein naam aaya but kabhi mila nahin… I think the type of cinema I did weren’t award-winning films. I gave big hits with my own good luck and somehow made it. There was a lot of struggle but no regrets personally or professionally.
What has kept Govinda going? The blessings of my mother and father. They made me what I am. When I wake up in the morning, I don’t have any baggage. I get up like a child and then I remember I am an actor. Life has taught me a lot.Akshay Kumar Avatar David Dhawan Dhurandhar Govinda Interviews Mani Ratnam Pahlaj Nihalani Partner Salman Khan