Govind Namdeo has played some of the most dreaded villains in Hindi cinema. His roles in Satya, Sarfarosh, Virasat and most recently Oh My God can never be forgotten. The actor spoke to Bollywoodirect about his life, his hometown, his school days in Delhi and his first Hollywood project in which he is playing the role of Moraji Desai.
First of all, we would like to know about you, your back ground and the reason behind you becoming an actor?
I did most of my studies from Delhi. From 8th standard till graduation, I studied in Delhi only. My roots are in Sagar in Madhya Pradesh. I always had this thought inside that I want do something big in life. In those days, going to Delhi or Mumbai was the only way to achieve that. I used to read how Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru went to foreign land to study and came back as lawyers. This made me think that even I can do this. So, this urge developed like that. Some of my relatives were in Delhi, so I went there and got admission in a school.
And the wish to become an actor happened after that?
In that school, I was involved in cultural activities in my school. It was not just acting only but singing and poetry were also some of the things I enjoyed doing. I think schooling days laid the foundation of the actor in me. Many people around me started suggesting me to take acting as career after school. I took their suggestions seriously. I started going to National School of Drama which was near my place. I used to get attracted towards actors, directors over there. I had decided by then that I will take admission in the drama school and filled the form for admission. The confidence that I had attained during my school days doing cultural activities helped me a lot in cracking NSD exams and interview and I got selected.
I studied there from 1975 to 1978 and even after completing my course in acting I stayed there as I had joined the repertory. I did this because I felt I was still not prepared fully as an actor and believed that joining the repertory will only improve me as an actor. I needed to attain maturity in acting. So, I decided to apply in repertory company and got one year of fellowship. I did great amount of hard work in that one year and as a result, I became a regular actor over there. I stayed there for as long as 11 years.
This is a bit surprising because the general trend is that after completing the acting course from NSD, actors run to Mumbai for work and you chose to stay back and learn more. How and when did you decide that it is the right time for you to shift to Mumbai?
I was enjoying my stay at repertory company. I had become the main actor in the company. I was enjoying theatre like anything. We went to several theatre festivals around the world. People appreciated our work. It was in the year 1989 when I entered my 11th year in the repertory company that I realized that I need to shift to Mumbai. My kids were growing up. The money with which I was living my life was now not enough to sustain my family’s needs. I realised that I cannot let my kids suffer because of my love for theatre. I had to earn enough to satisfy their basic need of education and good life. This is when I came to Mumbai. My first film which got released was Shola Aur Shabnam but the first film that I had signed was Ketan Mehta’s Sardar Patel.
In the coming year, we are going to see you in different roles in many movies. There is a Hollywood project you have worked on. Please share some details about it.
I got a call from the producer/director of the movie Pankaj Sehgal. Actually, there are two directors and one of them is Pankaj. He told me about the subject and the subject was so interesting that I could not say no. He was offering me to play the role of Moraji Desai. I read the script and got ready to do it instantly. The way the film is being shot I am really excited to see how audience reacts when it finally releases. I am proud of the role I am playing.
You are also doing a film on Anna Hazare. Tell us something about the role you are doing in the film.
I am playing the role of a villain in Anna Hazare. The film focuses on the part of Anna’s life which he spent in his village. I am playing a sahukar in the film. He runs different alcohol shops in the village. People are scared and afraid of him. They shiver when he walks on the road. The story is of the time when Anna came back to his village after serving in army and saw the condition of the villagers.
Marathwada is another film you are doing which deals with a very serious topic.
The film is all about the pain and pressures a farmer lives under twenty four hours of the day. It is about how farmers started attempting suicides due to drought and how other problems steered inside them because of severe poverty. This film should have been made a long time back. I am glad that now a film on this subject is finally in front of us.
Earlier, we used to see one or two such cases of suicide taking place but now you hear about a farmer committing suicide almost on an hourly basis. Working in this film took me close to real-life problems that a normal farmer goes through. The film will touch people’s lives. We have put their case very strongly through this film and I just hope that the film reaches even the policy makers of this country.
What is more important for you before choosing a film? Is it the story, the co-actors, the director?
I think it is a mix of all. If I get the combination of all three, then it is a must-do film. But in case, if only one parameter fits in some of the films, even then I raise my hand to say yes. If the subject is meaningful and strong then that means subject is the hero of the film and there is no harm in being a part of a film which deals with good subject. On the other hand, if there is a filmmaker like Shekhar Kapur who is willing to cast you in his films, then I can never say no. Even if there is a filmmaker who is new to the industry but his vision is very clear, then I will work with him or her too.
Any other films you want to talk about which we might see you in?
I am doing a film called Chapekar Brothers. I am playing the role of Lokmanya Tilak in that film. It is a period drama. The story is very interesting and something which is not heard before. People will get to know about Chapekar brothers through this film who were responsible for bringing a major revolution in the region of Pune. Another film is JD which is based on a journalist’s life. The year ahead is good.
Interview By: Shubham Pandey