By Subhash K Jha
MUMBAI: Govinda who turns 50 on December 21 is a changed man. Emotionally and spiritually. Physically he has never been fitter.
Marvelling at his own voyage from flab to fab, Govinda says, “I started working on my physique two years ago.I look at myself on television. And I can’t believe that was me in those days of Hero No.1 and Raja Babu. I feel I am in a different body now. I was doing yoga and jogging. Now I’m into reiki. It’s a philosophy of fitness that has changed my body metabolism and my blood circulation. I feel like a different person. It’s not only a fitness restricted to the body. Reiki has freed my mind as well.”
Govinda is at a stage in his life where he no longer needs to look at his career for complete sustenance. “There’s so much more to life than just acting. I’ve been through it all, done over 200 films. Today, thanks to television, younger generations of actors see my films and look up to me. I feel good when they say they are my fans. But I am not my own fan. I am learning so many new things all the time.Reiki is one of the major happenings in my life.”
Govinda has now revived his production house. “Isn’t that what all the heroes are doing? It’s the norm these days. Every hero is a potential producer. It’s the mantra for survival. I don’t know how successful I would be as a producer. I’ve burnt my fingers in the past. Lost a lot of money. Today the game has changed. Actors don’t have to put in their own money. I’ve to get used to the changing scenario. I’ve revived my production house under the banner Mangal Tara Films. This is my humble effort to keep the culture of cinema going in my home. I am so happy about Abhinay Chakra.When the director Deepankar Senapati narrated the subject to me I felt I had to do it. It’s something I’ve never done before. At this stage of my career it’s important for me to go to a new level. Repetition is death for me. I wanted to play this idealistic cop. And I wanted to complete the film in one schedule.Which we did.”
One thing that Govinda won’t do is produce a film for his daughter Narmadda. “She has her own mind. She knows exactly what she wants. It isn’t as if she hasn’t got offers. She hasn’t liked what has been offered.She won’t do a project just because she has to.I’ve given my children full freedom to do what they want in life.I am not holding my breath to see my daughter sign a film.When it happens I’ll be the happiest. But the question has now become annoying.Because I don’t have an answer.”
Govinda has signed some selected films for the coming year. “I am in no hurry. God has been very kind to me. What I want now is different from what I wanted when I was 26. Now I am not insecure about my career.I’ve taken control of my physique.I feel better about myself than I ever did.Reiki has opened up my body and mind. I am ready to explore new challenges.”
Govinda is content with life. “Bahot diya dene wale ne mujhko. I’ve got more than I deserved. I don’t want to lose this second opportunity that God has given me. I want to take my work further. Being professional is very important. There’s no alternative to hard work. Earlier my experience was limited, and so was the learning process because I was constantly running from one set to another. I think I’ve just begun my career now. I feel I’m in Standard 1 in school. I’m feeling nervous and excited. But also tired. I’m learning, understanding and I’m trying to manage in my own way.
For too long Govinda feels he took his talent for granted. “From 1996 onwards I’ve been caught in never-ending turmoil. I’d consider 2006 my year of recovery. At least I found a place back in the industry Today I can’t be taken for granted by people who want to make films with me. For too long I’ve been taken for granted. Today I insist on working only with big banners who will ensure that a film gets released properly and on time. I wasn’t finding a way out anywhere. After my long gap of joblessness Salman Khan and David Dhawan were the first to offer me solace with Partner. Then came Priyadarshan and Akshay Kumar with Bhagam Bhag. I never bothered with how I was treated. I just needed to return. I didn’t want to be caught up in any more problems. .
Govinda laughs back at his reputation of chronic unpunctuality. “I admit I never considered punctuality a part of my work ethics. All these years I’ve been accused of being unpunctual, and I was. I’ve made punctuality a part of my career now. I was over-worked. I was tired . And I was depressed. My mother’s death was the main cause for my restlessness. Tragedies fell on me like bricks. Just dealing with them left me sapped. A man cannot work properly when he’s swamped by setbacks.Mere saath to aati ho gaya. I don’t think anyone in the history of mankind has taken so many setbacks. God can’t be wrong , so the fault must lie with me.”
Govinda is realistic enough to realize his status in the film industry has changed . “Time is the greatest leveler. It’s best to do one’s work quietly. Every human being crosses hurdles in his life according to their destiny. I’ve been doing what I’ve to do. The rest I leave to destiny. A senior colleague once asked me…Tum dekho tumne har rishte ko kya diya aur har rishte ne tumko kya diya. Likewise I want to see what my work has given me and what I’ve given back my work. Now I’m focusing completely on my acting career.”