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Govind Namdev: Today when heroes play villains, their larger than life persona clashes with their characters

In an interview with, Govind Namdev talks about what made yesteryear villains so impactful, heroes taking up villainous roles and how there is more focus on characters today.

Written by Komal RJ Panchal | Mumbai |
Updated: December 29, 2017 10:58:26 am
govind namdev Govind Namdev says, “I have enjoyed playing every character, but I think playing Birju Thakur in Virasat was quite an experience.”

67-year-old actor Govind Namdev is known for his notable negative roles in films like Bandit Queen, Prem Granth, Virasat, Satya, Sarfarosh, Lajja, Oh My God!, Heroine and Wanted.

In this interview with, the actor talks about what made yesteryear villains so impactful, heroes taking up villainous roles and how there is more focus on characters today.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. Tell us about your Bollywood journey.

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In the last 27 years, I have done more than 115 films, and I have got an opportunity to work with the best of directors, producers and actors. So, working with them has been a great learning experience too. And through all of this, it feels good talking about some of the memorable characters I have played. Characters like Thakur Shyam Singh in Shekhar Kapoor’s Bandit Queen, Roop Sahai in Prem Granth, Veeran in Sarfarosh and Bhau Thakurdas Jhawle in Satya. These were some of the characters which are still very close to my heart. Films like Godmother, Lajja and Oh My God! did well, and my work was appreciated. So, it’s been a good journey so far and I am satisfied with the work I have done. I haven’t been competitive or desperate, and I hope to keep on playing more interesting characters. But I strongly feel that my potential is not used to its fullest, and I know I’ll do it in the times to come. I would love to do an interesting character, one like Amrish Puri’s Mogambo, as he is someone I have always looked up to as an idol. I am also looking forward to Solar Eclipse that will release in January 2018. It is a global political drama, in which I play former Prime Minister Morarji Desai.

govind namdev in morarji

Q. You’ve been known for your negative roles. Do you think today there is too much glamour associated with negative roles?

You are right. Today people are star struck. When some heroes play villains, they don’t fit into their characters. Their larger than life persona clashes with their characters. What I got to play all these years were well written negative characters. Villains that were hated. I don’t think today there are negative characters written very seriously. However, times are changing today. This year we have had films which are based on realism. Stories that are lifted from the society we live in have done wonders. Look how Rajkummar Rao has come up. We are getting a good flavour of characters again. So, the way I see it, the time will come again where an actor’s versatility will be recognised again.

Q. Today negative roles have become caricaturish. The roles you played made sure that the audience hated you. Tell us about that.

I graduated from National School of Drama. We were taught that whatever role we do, negative or positive, the audience should be able to smell the character. I used to think like the character, talk and walk like him too. We were also told that there should not be any reflection of older characters we played in the new one.

govind namdev in oh my god

Q. Which one of your characters is your favourite?

I have enjoyed playing every character, but I think playing Birju Thakur in Virasat was quite an experience. Vinay Shukla had allocated the character to me. When he was describing the character to me, he said that there is one glitch to it, the character has no dialogue as he is suffering from paralysis. Then we improvised it as it was a big film with Anil Kapoor and Priyadarshan directed it. I observed a couple of characters who were shown suffering from paralysis. I wanted my character to be impactful, and doing so without dialogue would be difficult but not impossible. I started working on it and as I started involving in the character, I started thinking how would people with paralysis express their feelings. I am sure they must be grunting or something. My character had a twitch on his face. Whatever I did, I had to keep it and make it look real. And as the time passed, we gave the character some dialogue, and thought of ways to make the dialogue delivery realistic. I had heard that Priyadarshan doesn’t make changes in his plans, but I had decided that I wanted to talk to him about my character, enact a few scenes so he knows what I am feeling for my character. And when Priyadarshan saw what I had to offer in this particular scene where my character is being shamed, there was no way possible that he would keep quiet. He had to blurt out words in disgust and we did it. My character had a voice.

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