Govinda, who plays a Hanuman-like character in Mani Ratnam's Raavan, was in shock when he saw the film last week. Though he's been telling his friends that he didn't expect this shoddy treatment from the filmmaker who edited out most of his role, he poses a brave front for the media. However, when we talk to him, one can read between the lines that express his disappointment.
Your reaction on seeing Raavan?
I was stunned after seeing Raavan. I couldn't connect spiritually to the film. It is too commercial. In the original Ramayana koi kisi ka paksh nahi le raha hai. That's why it comes across as balanced. We connect to it on an emotional level and spiritual level. In Raavan that's not the way it is. But I never told Mani Sir anything. How can I question a big director like him?
Were you expecting your role to be cut so much?
All I can say is that I learnt a lot from Mani sir and his way of working. I did the film because of Sunita. When Mani sir offered me the role he said he wanted someone who looks strong and is wise - someone who tried to convince Raavan that violence and fights are not the right ways to achieve things. When I asked Sunita, she said I should do the role because I don't have amicable relations with anyone. She felt I should do it for Abhishek even if it was a multi-starrer.
Did you read the script?
No. Once I decided to do the film I also decided I wouldn't ask a word about my role or question the director on anything. I would do whatever Mani sir wants me to do unquestioningly and I came on time every day we shot.
Most people feel that all characters except Abhi-Ash were sidelined. Comment.
I signed the film knowing Mani sir was making Raavan and not Ramayana and that it would be from the point of view of the anti-hero, Raavan. I knew the focus would be on Raavan. I needed the role. I learnt what I needed to from it and that's it. Actors should not think so much. I accept, act, forget and move on to my next film. I never question the powers that be.
Did you reveal your feelings to Mani?
No. Unless he calls me, how can I question Mani sir about this? He's such a big person and a school in himself. I didn't want even the technical team to take sides.
It is believed you felt sidelined during the shooting?
If I did, I didn't mind. I don't allow these things to ruin my peace of mind. I used the experiences to learn. I would sit by myself and keep learning the process. I never allowed such things to spoil my day or mood.
Who do you blame for the role being chopped?
Why blame anyone for chopping my role? I didn't ask anybody before signing it. I have done 148 films till now and have understood that one shouldn't focus on such things. Do your work, get out and forget about the film. It's a kind of self-defense mechanism I have learnt and adopted over the years.
If Mani offers a film again will you do it?
(After a long pause) Any time I get a good role to perform, I will do it. I am a selfish actor. What I have learnt is that khud se pyaar karo... khud ka dhyan rakho... kisi aur pe comment na karo.
If only he had, Govinda would be able to 'connect' with his Raavan director's vision for the film. It's easy to say he doesn't mind his role being chopped now. After all, Mani matters on your resume, no?