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Is Hero No 1 returning?

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Last updated on: December 19, 2006 17:03 IST

If you are 48 and have a dozen flops behind you, wouldn't it be best to think about retirement?

At least that way you can go out in glory as a yesteryear hero. And join the ranks of the senior actors of Bollywood who cut ribbons at boutiques and attend star birthday parties.

But hey what if you are Hero No 1? Isn't there hope?

Certainly hope is riding high for Govinda to hit the big time again December 22 as a comeback hero with Bhagam Bhaag.

Of course, BB is not solely a Govinda film. Biggies Akshay Kumar and Paresh Rawal are bound to fill theatres on their own steam. But nevertheless the buzz is that audiences are eagerly awaiting The Hero's return.

Will he make it big again?

"Of course, he can make it. He has tremendous potential in him. He has a 100 percent chance to prove himself again," says Komal Nahta, trade analyst and editor Film Information, a weekly film trade magazine.

Analysts like Nahta believe that if he is disciplined and chooses the right films, Govinda can have staying power.

Especially if you consider that in 1998 with the release of Bade Miya Chote Miya Govinda pretty much overshadowed the King (Amitabh Bachchan) in the film and was considered the next big actor of that decade.

But over the next six years that never happened. And he finally entered politics in 2004 becoming a member of Parliament from Mumbai North West defeating former union minister Ram Naik.

Why did he hit rock bottom in Bollywood in 2004 though he was a talented actor?

"There is no producer in the film industry who was not harassed by Govinda. He never used to come on time to the sets. He was unreachable and many times people lost money because they had to cancel shoots," says Nahta.

More trouble followed when the actor started refusing even plum offers. Subhash Ghai wanted him in Taal. Govinda said no. Why? He said that he could not do a second lead role and the job went to Anil Kapoor.

He was offered the role Jackie Shroff did in Devdas. But Govinda again refused because he didn't want to play second fiddle to Shah Rukh Khan.

The roles he did do became pretty repetitive. His comic takes were becoming as common as popcorn and he was not bringing anything new to these roles. Some of his comedies were so ordinary that no distributors wanted to touch them. Films like Khulam Khula Pyaar Karenge and Sandwich sank at the box office.

Govinda then attempted different genre films like Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rehta Hai, Albela, Hum Tum Pe Marte Hain and Shikari. But they too turned out to be duds at the box office.

Simultaneously, the country's film tastes were changing. The arrival of multiplexes ensured that. As did sleek, fun films like  Dil Chahta Hai. There was no place for the stunts of Hero No 1 on this landscape.

Govinda switched tracks in 2005 and tried his hand at producing. The movie: Sukh. The outcome: disaster at the box office. He found a new saviour in Salman Khan who gave him his first comeback break in his film Partner in 2006. Salman also helped Govinda bag a lead role in Nikhil Advani's Salaam-E-Ishq.

So by 2006, the scene had started looking a bit brighter for Govinda. Possibly bigger things are in store for him in 2007.

Says Vinod Mirani, film trade analyst, "Govinda is one of the most talented actors of film industry. He can do all kinds of roles. If his film is projected well then he and his films can certainly make it big."

Can Govinda make a successful comeback with Bhagam Bhaag? Tell us!

Syed Firdaus Ashraf

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