DUBAI: There isn’t any millennial who has grown up in India or Pakistan and doesn’t know Govinda. He first appeared on the screens in the 80s and has starred in over 150 films since then.
From the age of ‘the angry young man,’ the protagonist mindset of Bollywood has changed (and evolved, thankfully) a whole lot. Govinda has seen an entire span of a generation change its shape and its face. The fifty three year old actor wasn’t to be deterred by this of course as he was recently in the UAE and raring to mesmerise audiences with new avatars. He walked in with his entourage and his beautiful wife, Sunita, and of course, embodying the classic swag that we all have known Govinda for.
“You’ve been performing for us for so long,” I ask him, “and over these years, the industry has changed so much. The performances, the kind of work people are doing now has taken quite a turn. How do you see this change,” I am of course alluding to the nature and performances at award shows and films especially. “There are good and bad to every kind of changing times, how do you see these changes?”
Govinda thinks about this for a moment and speaks with his characteristic broad smile, “I think there is a lot of hard work involved now. The world is looking at you. And because the world is looking at you, it’s incredibly important that you work according to that. Whether it’s your nature or your physical performance, you have to keep up with the standards of the world.”
Award shows nowadays are a multi-million rupee industry, with A-listers performing and attending as well as in terms of the the giant leaps that technology has made in order to amplify the experience for the audiences. “In the beginning, or previously,” says Govinda referring to an earlier decade, “people worked on their style etc to showcase their personalities – there was a separate brand of hard work that went with it. Now it’s mandatory to work hard on these kinds of things.”
Different celebrities employ brand managers and PR consultants to help them say the right things and appear in a certain way. The environment has obviously shifted in dynamics. “Dance has changed as well,” Govinda adds. “There’s a lot of exercise involved. (laughs) It’s fine. Everyone has their own style.”
Govinda also talked about the changes in cinema and the kind of film-making that happens in today’s world. “What I want people to give attention to is that the cinema that we used to watch had this connectivity with people. Now it has turned into a business that involves the personal likings of people who have money.”
In an inherently commercial and money making business, it has obviously all become about box-office and the numbers game. “Whoever has the cash can now say and communicate whatever they want. It seems as if they’re talking – and they won’t stop talking,” laughs Govinda.
“And if you try and ask them what their problem is and why they’re doing what they’re doing – they sort of stare back at you and think they’ll crush you. What I wish is that people can connect again to the cinema in ways that aren’t just based on what a few people with money like to show on the screens.”
We recently saw him in the film Kill Dill alongside Pakistani heartthrob Ali Zafar and Bollywood bigwig Ranveer Singh. Govinda essayed a negative role, a villainous role which was a departure from his regular cheery, heroic roles that he is more prone to have played. What made him choose this role?
“When I left politics – I did whatever work I got. I signed the first film I got. I told the directors of Kill Dill that you’re taking me for a negative role but I don’t think I’ll be able to do it. I kept his cheque aside, I didn’t cash it. I wasn’t taking his money. I wanted to make sure I could do this.”
Does he want to do more roles like that? “I’m just working,” he replies shaking his head and still smiling that bright mega-watt Govinda smile. “I’m not thinking much about anything. I kept thinking 2007 to 2017 and now I think I need to just work. And not think.”
And of course, I had to ask. “Would you like to work in Pakistan?”
“I’d absolutely love to.” He emphasises on the word ‘love’ and his smile is broader. I beam back at him. And he added again, “Thank you so much for asking, I’d love to.”
Govinda Ahuja is a powerhouse of talent and humility and there is no doubt that fans across India and Pakistan would love to see him on Pakistani screens and collaborate with more Pakistani actors. More power to him.
Have something to add to the story? Share it in the comments below.