The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, May 28, 2000

What makes Govinda tick?
By Raj K. Machhan

A STRIKING red shirt, tight yellow trousers and white leather shoes. Is it a walking billboard? Perhaps a conspiracy to undermine the standards of dressing set by high priests of fashion? Well, it’s simply Govinda at work who has emerged as one of the most bankable stars in Bollywood. "Crass comedy, bawdy lyrics, showpiece of a heroine" is the standard line used to describe a typical Govinda flick. In spite of this all-encompassing criticism, Govinda can rightfully claim to be the Entertainer No 1 in a world where success is more of an aberration in the general scheme of failure. The Govinda juggernaut has rolled on, churning out one successful movie after the other.

GovindaHe has managed this at the cost of being labelled the most repetitive man in the industry, sticking to the same directors, similar themes and almost identical roles. Hero No 1, Coolie No 1, and Aunty No 1 are films so uncanny in their resemblance that even the titles sound the same. But the public simply does not seem to get enough of Govinda. Cinegoers still flock to his new releases. Is his success an extended fluke or was he born under the lucky star with forces of nature permanently on his side? A closer look provides us with some logical explanations to the Govinda phenomenon.

Govinda’s voyage of success has its spots of failures, whence his movies have flopped miserably at the box-office. His career is an example of knowing one’s strengths and exploiting them to the maximum . He has learnt from his mistakes and after trying out his skills in all type of formula movies, has been smart enough to stick to his forte — dancing and comedy. He has chosen directors, movies and roles strictly in accordance with his innate strengths. Being cast in a straitjacket seems to have a positive connotation for Govinda.

  Another reason for his success lies in his penchant for simplicity. A basic trait of his performances has been his disposition to turn in simple performances on a regular basis. His movies come across as unmixed affairs, shorn of any unnecessary complexities. And needless to say simplicity is powerful. As Edward de Bono says , "In aesthetics there can be the appeal of the simple and at the same time the appeal of the rich and the intricate. If you like fish, it does not mean that you cannot like beef."

Actors put in a lot of effort to render moving performances in complex roles. A prime example is that of Manoj Bajpai in Satya . The effort and the final result of such acts are appreciated by one and all across the board. But at the same time, performances like those of Govinda; involving spontaneity and seemingly effortless acting evoking joy and mirth among the audiences is equally, if not more, significant. In the present-day world, with mounting pressures of modern day living, Govinda’s ability to provide a few moments of abandon is something that makes him stand out. A person going to a Govinda movie is basically looking at a few moments of lightheartedness away from the drudgery of day to day living. His performances allow us the luxury to take off our thinking caps and simply flow along the harmless on-screen stupidities of the hero.

Govinda’s ability to connect with masses is a potent factor that contributes to his success. According to Nishant, a young entrepreneur and a die hard Govinda fan, "Govinda is able to draw you out. He gets you involved with his histrionics". His ability to reach out through his style of acting is the key to his acceptability.

However, there is another lesson that lies in the Govinda story. Very often we tend to discredit others in the light of our own pre-conceived notions. I guess it is not too wise to pass strict judgments, as these tend to fall flat in a majority of the cases. After all what appears "crass" to me, is maybe "class" to somebody elseu