The much-loved courtroom drama, OMG Oh My God (2012), completed 10 years on September 28. Although the film is remembered for the performances of Paresh Rawal, Akshay Kumar and Mithun Chakraborty, one can’t deny that even Govind Namdeo was memorable. As the hot-headed Siddheshwar Maharaj, the actor delivered one of the most memorable performances of his illustrious career.
10 Years of OMG Oh My God EXCLUSIVE: “Had the film been released today, it would have faced a lot of problems. And I see it positively. I am not saying those the protestors are wrong in objecting” – Govind Namdev
On OMG Oh My God’s 10th anniversary, the veteran actor spoke exclusively to Bollywood Hungama about his memories attached to the film and a lot more.
How did you bag the role in OMG Oh My God?
My secretary, Avadhesh Singh Kushwaha aka Avi, used to work for Paresh Rawal earlier. But he kept in touch with Paresh. So, I guess Paresh asked him to pass on the message that they are interested in casting me. We met and I heard the narration. I liked it and hence, I came on board.
How was your look decided?
We had another meeting for it. We were in two minds about whether I should shave my head or use a bald wig. The makers and I both felt that the former option is better as it would look more authentic. But I was already shooting for other films and its continuity would have gone for a toss had I shaved my head. We then spoke to the makers of those films and we realized that I can cut all my hair for OMG Oh My God and use a wig during the shoots of the other films. A wig was made to match my real hairstyle. Once that happened, I cut my hair off. I still remember it happened in the production office. I saw myself getting bald. It was the first time I took such a step for a film role.
Then we did a look test. I wore the dhoti and other accessories. I saw myself in the mirror and was taken aback. Everyone, including me, loved the look.
How did you prep for the film? Was there any real-life reference to your character?
I observed the saints from the ISKCON as to how they speak, walk etc. I imbibed those traits and also made it a little over the top as per the demand of the character. Also to internalize, we actors go back in our memories and try to draw parallels with people whom we have come across and who closely resemble the character in hand. There are scenes in the film where Paresh Rawal calls temple a ‘dukaan’ and shivling as ‘patthar’ and it enrages my character. While understanding how to nail this bit, I was reminded of my childhood incident. This was a time when I was 13 or 14 years old and I used to live in Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. I and my friends used to meet every Sunday and we used to go to the outskirts of the town, where they were a lot of farms. We used to pluck guava, mango etc from the trees. This was a place where there was a well, a temple and a hut where a seer used to reside.
From the well, we used to throw the bucket and draw water after we would be done eating the fruits. One day, one of our friends suggested that we should jump into the well. There were steps on the inside wall of the well. So getting inside was a cakewalk. We liked the idea and dived in. We loved the experience and from thereon, every Sunday, playing in the well became our favourite pastime. One day, the seer saw us in the well. He got angry. He told us that the water from the well is offered on the shivling in the temple and we are contaminating it. He warned us not to jump in the well again. We got scared and promised him not to do so again.
The next Sunday, we reached the spot and realized the seer is not present in his hut. We decided to jump into the well. That’s when the seer saw us. He scolded and gave yet another warning. This time, he told us that dobara kuve mein gaye toh chamdi udhed dunga. We were petrified.
For the next few weeks, we didn’t have the guts to go even near the well. Then one day, we got tempted to jump in the well yet again! We looked around and realized the seer is nowhere. So, we dived in the well. I was on the top of the steps of the well. Suddenly, the seer caught hold of my arm and lifted me out of the well. His eyes were red with anger. He beat me black and blue. The rage I saw in the eyes is unforgettable. When I merged that rage with my character, I realized that it was a perfect fit. I kept the same expression throughout the film especially when Kanji bhai would make comments on the Gods. I guess the experiment worked well and people appreciated it.
(Laughs) Yes, that was a great experience. There was a scene where I slip from my seat and come down on the floor. That and the way I belch after coming out of the toilet were improvised. Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal appreciated me a lot for these additions and motivated me to do better.
Your character is shown to shake his hands a lot. Where did that come from?
So, I make sure that my character should have a distinct walking style. It helps me feel the character and even the audience takes to it. So while trying the walk, I ended up shaking my hand and we incorporated it.
You have done several films in your career but you must be getting a lot of feedback for your role in OMG Oh My God…
Absolutely. It has become an evergreen film and the same applies to the film. Jaise sadabahar filmein hoti hai, unme se yeh ek hai. You can’t help but stop or pause the film. You’ll be compelled to watch the film. It’s so engaging.
While reading the film, did you feel it could be a risk to do a film of this sort? This is especially for you since you played the role of a corrupt seer…
Of course, I had apprehensions. But the script was very balanced. We were not talking only about the Hindu religion. We touched upon all religions. Also, the point we made was very logical. Isliye mujhe nahi lag raha tha ki zyada problem hogi. Problem hogi, yeh zaroor pata tha! Jo sant aur mahatma hai, mujhe pata tha ki unko mere character ko dekh ke aag lagegi. Aur woh aag toh failaayenge hi. Some agitations did take place. But let’s face the fact. A few religious leaders did turn out to be rotten apples and went to jail. My character was inspired by them. Aise log Hindu dharm ko badnaam kar rahe hai, be it Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan, Asaram Bapu etc. Inhone apne pad ka durupyog kiya.
It is often said that a film like OMG Oh My God is not possible in today’s times. What’s your take?
Yes, I agree. For example, there is a sequence in the film where the protagonist argues why should one pour milk on the shivling when beggars are starving on the streets. At that time, we were not aware of the significance of these religious ceremonies. Utne gehraayi mein jaa ke nahi samjha tha in cheezon ko. Nowadays, there’s more awareness about these aspects. Now, these things seem justified. Yeh sab shraddha ki baatein hai. Also, one can’t blame the temples. They never tell you to make offerings. Devotees do it themselves. Hence, I feel that had OMG Oh My God been released today, it would have faced a lot of problems. And I see it positively. I am not saying those the protestors are wrong in objecting.
Despite such a fabulous performance, you were not nominated, forgetting winning the award. Does that hurt you?
This has happened to me since the start of my career. I believe that agar meri rekha mein awards jeetna nahi likha hai, toh mujhe nahi milenge awards, chahe kuch bhi ho jaaye. I don’t claim that my performances were the best. But if you consider the performances of other actors, especially those who got nominated or won, my performance was way better! Take Virasat (1997) for example. Or Sarfarosh (1999), Prem Granth (1996), Bandit Queen (1994), Kachche Dhaage (1999), Satya (1998), Johnny Gaddaar (2007), etc. I never won any award for these performances. I was not even nominated, except for Satya. Ab award nahi mila toh nahi mila. Uske liye rote thodi baithenge? I’ll keep on working. If they feel I deserve an award, they can present me with one. If they don’t feel it, I have no complaints. Bahut santoshi aadmi hoon main!
A sequel to OMG Oh My God is getting ready for release. Are you a part of it?
Yes, I am a part of the cast. My character, however, is different. The story is also different compared to part 1. I am the only person besides Akshay Kumar that has been repeated from the first part. All the other actors like Pankaj Tripathi, Yami Gautam Dhar, etc. are new additions.
How was the experience of shooting the film?
It was great. The director is a debutant and he has excelled in his endeavour. He has even written the film. It’ll release in the first half of 2023. The post-production is going on.
Which are your upcoming films?
My immediate release is Hindutva, on October 7. On October 14, I’ll be seen in Deepak Mukut’s Bal Naren.
Is it based on Narendra Modi?
No. He has served as the inspiration. It’s a film where the kid inspires adults. It’s a sweet, meaningful film. I’ll also be seen in Woh Ladki Hai Kahaan, co-starring Taapsee Pannu and Pratik Gandhi. We shot partly in Jaipur for it. I play a masala king in this movie. There’s another lovely film, Alien Frank, in which I play Adolf Hitler. It’s directed by a teacher from Banaras.
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Recently, you posted a still from this film. It raised laughs since Hitler is seen reading the diary of Anne Frank! Could you tell us how and why is something like this being shown in the film?
(Laughs) That’s how the story unfolds. A kid in India gets obsessed with Anne Frank after reading her diary. He starts imagining her and feeling her pain. While doing so, he starts hating Hitler since he was the one responsible for her horrible condition. He imagines Hitler too and that’s where the dictator comes in front of him. What happens next forms the crux of the film.
Whenever I was asked about my dream role, I used to reply that I want to play Hitler. I always wondered why he killed so many Jews without regret and how did he manage to brainwash so many people. Contrastingly, he used to paint and write poems and was a romantic person as well. Hence, it was a dream come true for me when this role was offered to me, although it was not a full-fledged portrayal of Hitler. Shayad aage meri iccha poori nahi hone waali hogi. Isliye ishwar ne meri thodi si iccha poori kar di!
Which are the films or series that you are shooting for currently?
There are 3 films and 2 web series. One is Gandhi Talks. It’s a silent film and features Vijay Sethupathi, Aditi Rao Hydari and Arvind Swamy. It’s a very interesting film. Without dialogues, we have communicated our emotions and thoughts. It was a challenging experience. The music is by A R Rahman. Then there’s Sam Bahadur, directed by Meghna Gulzar. I am also doing Bombay Don, starring Jimmy Sheirgill and Abhimanyu Singh. It’s set in one night in Mumbai. As for the web series, I am shooting for Raeth for Amazon Prime. The other one is Chota Yadav for MX Player. It is set in Bihar. I am playing a baahubali in a town. My character is very rangeen. He’s not a womanizer but he’s quite entertaining. He loves to do horse riding and wears strange clothes.
I am very excited about working on these projects. Every 2-3 days, I am on a different set. For an actor, this is very satisfactory.
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