Kisi Disco mein jaayein, Kisi hotel mein khaayein; raise your hands if you haven’t tried to do the “Govinda” step at some dance party, when the DJ belted the song out.
Well, I am not ashamed to say that I have, despite my two left feet and teaching it with pleasure to those wanting to replicate “ THE GOVINDA SWAG”.
Yes, he can be truly called the King of Swag, the man for the masses, the aam aadmi who hit bullseye at the box office. The Virar ka Chokra, who rose to Demi God like status among the junta who walked his walk and talk.
He burst on to the screens in the mid 80’s with his ‘Travolta’ moves. Unlike the usual heroes on the screens, he was plump, his hair kind of unkempt; his sense of style which only accentuated as the years went by, and was translated by tight fitting shirts and equally tight flashy trousers, chunky accessories and heels for shoes. For those who mocked him and classified him as downmarket, little did they know that- where-did-he-come-from-guy, would emerge as Bollywood’s Entertainer Number 1, transcending class barriers.
Govinda in his own words, confesses , “I am a aam aadmi and that’s what I showed on screen through all my characters, and that resonated with the people and I observe people and would draw from them and show it on screen”.
But the actor who began his career with films like Love 86 proved that his talent was not restricted to breaking into a dance but had enough performance in him, films like Hatya and the family melodrama Swarg hold testimony to the fact.
Raunchy film lyrics, or double-entendre dialogues- all were forgiven by the audience as he thrived on BRAND GOVINDA. With no star connections he wrote a success story. Unapologetic, and unabashed, Govinda spoke in chaste Hindi , “angrezi mujhe nahi aati” making desi look cool.
But a man who had the biggest hand in the Govinda success story was David Dhawan. The two first collaborated on Shola Aur Shabnam in 1992, grossed over 6 crore was followed by Aankhein, the comedy of errors which made 15 crores in 1993. The famous hit Lal duppatte wali, I remember, had young teenage boys dancing in the aisles and it was not just the so called seeti audience, it was everybody’s jam; surprisingly not even one lady batted an eye as they all clapped and hummed along!
1994 saw Dhawan and him collaborate again with Raja Babu, followed by Coolie Number 1, Saajan Chale Sasural and Hero No 1, each one a bigger money spinner than the one before.
The Govinda, Shakti Kapoor, Anupam Kher and Kadar Khan collaboration gave you the laughs as they producers laughed all the way to the bank.
But not one to make light of his success the actor said, “we improvised on sets, we came up with ideas and told each other let’s do this! The song tujhe mirchi lagi toa main kya karun, it was me who suggested this line, since that’s how people talk in real life”.
Known for his tardiness on sets, Govinda never adhered to time. And, one heard stories that directors often shot with the rest of the cast as they all waited him for him to arrive which could be any where between a 3 to 8 hour wait. An actor who has never made it to the best dressed list, his fashion best described as garish actually made being unsophisticated a signature style. So much so that any time someone worse a garish or flashy outfit people would remark – “ arre why you dressed like Govinda”. The man who reflected the aspirations of the common man on reel without the sermons is an integral part of Indian pop culture .
Even today the moment a Govinda song his played you sway or hum along to it and a Govinda film on TV is guaranteed to make you enjoy the moment! A wholesome entertainer whose big shoes still remain to be filled says his hero no 1 is none other than the livewire Ranveer Singh!