Govind Namdev recalls a time when no one offered him work after Shola Aur Shabnam: Isse, usse udhaar liya

The Hindustan Times recently spoke with veteran actor Govind Namdev, who made his Bollywood debut in David Dhawan’s Shola Aur Shabnam. However, the consequences were unexpected.

While many actors established themselves as heroes, Govind Namdev convinced everyone that he was the new face of evil. In his debut film, Shola Aur Shabnam, he played the corrupt inspector. The actor, a graduate of India’s National School of Drama, arrived in Mumbai in 1990 in search of work.

Govind reflected on his hesitation as a newcomer to the industry in an interview with Hindustan Times. “I hoped I wouldn’t have to make an unneeded compromise in the industry after making a name for myself in theatre.” I simply did not want to jeopardise my reputation.”

During his early years in Bollywood, no one knew who he was. When he got his first project, Shola Aur Shabnam, the pressure off him a little bit, but it was just the tip of an iceberg he was about to hit. “I was pleased to see that the audience enjoyed my performance in Shola Aur Shabnam.” After the film’s release, I began receiving numerous casting offers, but they were all for the same role.

The actor refused to put on the cop uniform once more. But why is that? “During the Shola Aur Shabnam shoot, I was once sitting with my co-star Mahavir Shah,” he explained (who appeared as inspector Mahadev in the film). ‘Do you know this is my 32nd film as an inspector?’ he said. ‘Mujhe koi aur role milta.’ He even had a uniform made. I was stunned and asked him, ‘kya baat kar rahe ho?’ I was aware of the concept of being typecast in films. But reality jolted me. ‘Kahi main na phas jau iss chakkar mein,’ I thought. “Dar lag gaya ek dum.”

While Govind was adamant about not reprising the same role in his future films, he continued to receive offers. “I refused Rajan Kothari GP Sippy. They chastised me and said, “But you just came.” You should not turn down films.’ After I turned down another 2-3 job offers, rumours began to circulate about me. Despite my explanation, people labelled me an egoist. ‘He is new, and kisi ko bhi reject kar deta hain,’ they said. People eventually stopped asking me for films. Nobody offered me a job. When I started going to sets and asking for work, everyone said the same thing: ‘we only have one role, but it’s an inspector.’ This went on for almost two years, and I was bored’,” he explained.

“I was under duress. My family and I relocated to Mumbai. So I managed to keep my household running by doing theatre workshops and other gigs. “Isse udhar lia, use udhar lia aur time nikala,” he said, recalling difficult times in Mumbai. During this time, director Bharat Rangacharya came to Govind’s aid, offering him his TV series, Parivartan. “I told Bharat sir that there are some things I will not do, and one of them is serial.” He simply instructed me to meet with him for a narration before making any decisions.”

“He offered me the main lead role of a 65-year-old, Hasmukh Ajmera, and I was only 38-39.” I was taken aback. In some ways, I was looking for work helplessly, but I was also afraid of being typecast into senior positions. I went home and told my wife about the complicated situation. We agreed that I should do it, if only to establish myself as an actor. “I invested everything in myself for the character, and during Parivartan, Shekhar Kapur offered me Bandit Queen,” the 68-year-old revealed with a smile.

Govind Namdev will be seen in OMG 2, Woh Ladka Hai Kahan? And Alien Frank.