Govinda talks about his latest flop, and lack of friends in the industry
Govinda on why his latest film Fryday, failed at the box office, his response to being termed unprofessional and lack of friends in the industry
You got critical acclaim for Fryday, but the film didn't soar at the box office.
People had pre-conceived notions that Fryday won't work and hence, we got very few screens for the showcase. Despite that, the film managed to earn money. [It made Rs 1.53 crore, as per reports] This has happened to me earlier as well. My film, Sandwich (2006), which I hear is one of Aamir Khan's favourites, was not allowed to release in theatres despite being produced by the Thackerays [Smita Thackeray]. In our industry, the business for every actor is pre-decided. Audience learnt how award ceremonies in the country are a sham when it was exposed, soon the whole Rs 100 crore club will also crumble.
Are you implying that people have an agenda against you?
Ever since the corporates entered the industry, I believe there is politics. It happened earlier with Amitabh Bachchan and Dilip Kumar. I remember there was a time when people didn't want Amitji, one of the greatest superstars in the industry, in their films. When I did a film [Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, 1998] with Amitji, a lot of people warned and threatened me against working with him, because people assumed, he would cheat me and that he was a dangerous person. I didn't pay heed to any threats or bits of advice. In fact, I offered him to edit me out completely from the second half of the film, but he refused. He explained to me once, 'It's not important whether I [Big B] am doing good work or not, it's important that I get a hit.' As soon as the film released, I became a victim and the new target for internal politics. I was made to feel that if Amitji is involved in a film, he won't let any other actor bask in the limelight. They often pitted me against Amitji and the Khans. Considering the entire industry functions on relationships, someone tried to conspire and sabotage my chances in the upcoming line-up of films. Yes, it did affect me back then, but I am glad to be out of that phase.
Do you believe that you have no friends in the industry besides Salman Khan? And do you regret not having friends?
I don't have any friends in the industry and that is something I regret deeply. Going to late night parties and being a social animal was never my cup of tea. All I ever wanted to do was concentrate on my work and give my 100 per cent.
Popular belief still suggests that you are very difficult to deal with, are unapproachable and would always report late on the set. Is that true?
I used to report to Mani Ratnam's set for Raavan at 4 am. This often surprised the unit members and was often a topic of discussion. I believe people who I don't intend to work with are the ones spreading these rumours. I want to associate with directors who want to make good films and steer clear from the ones whose intentions I don't trust. When I say no to such people, they turn around and label me difficult and unapproachable.
You mentioned becoming a victim of politics post Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, but weren't you offered films like Taal and Devdas around the same time?
I was not sure how people would react if I played Chunilal [in Devdas]. I was at the peak of my career and couldn't grasp why I was being offered character roles. Frankly, I didn't want to do those roles. I also believe that I need to know a director well before I take up work with them. They both [Subhash Ghai and Sanjay Leela Bhansali] were new directors for me. In the early 2000s, I was in a secure space and didn't feel the need to experiment. But I will still reiterate that I don't think I have lost out on anything by declining their offer.
Was there a financial crunch during your difficult phase?
Having financial problems and still managing to keep your name intact is difficult. But then again, when you realise in a country with a population of over 1.5 billion only a handful manage to become heroes, you are humbled. I come from a humble family and I have had my share of hard work and struggle. I never imagined that I would become a star or maintain my stardom for over 15 years. My journey has had several ups and downs, but I kept moving forward. People still love me as their comic superstar and there are more than half a dozen actors who want to make that as their selling point.
Do you feel playing the comedian has restricted you as an actor?
No, it was always planned. I want to continue doing comedy cinema, after all, I ruled that genre and created a niche for myself. Doing comedy has never restricted me, I've only enjoyed it.
David Dhawan is reviving the No 1 series with son Varun Dhawan. Your comments.
I don't have the authority on the No1 series. Besides David Dhawan, several filmmakers from different industries and languages have made these movies. It is not my prerogative to comment on it.
How do you look at your third innings in Bollywood?
I am happy doing work and cannot be bothered about anything else. My mother would often tell me, 'Govinda pehle tum takleef main kaam dhundoge, aur fir kaam main takleef' [laughs]. But I have made peace with the people around me. I try to introspect and figure out how to improve my game. I just want to win the love of the audience back.
Bonds in the industry
Govinda claims that Salman Khan and his family are his close friends from the industry. He says, "I have good relations with Salman [Khan] and his family. He is a nice person and there is a mutual appreciation. We are similar and that's why I believe our equation clicks. We have always stood by each other. When I say friends, it does not mean that we sit down every evening and drink or meet every day." He adds that time has not changed his friendship with Salman.
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