The very talented Govind Namdev surprised audiences as he featured in a public awareness ad called Hawa Badlo that motivates citizen to give a helping hand to the traffic policemen, who are facing numerous health hazards. Namdev speaks about this initiative, why his upcoming film Coming Back Darling is one of its kind Hindi film and don’t miss as he opens up about his association with Om Puri who passed away on January 6 this year.

You were recently seen in a public initiative ad called Hawa Badlo. How did you become a part of it?
The makers say that they contacted me because they liked the genuineness in my personality. Also, it’s the need of hour to prevent the air pollution from impacting our health. Hence, they asked prominent, popular actors so that the message can spread far and wide.

Towards the end of Hawa Badlo, some statistics are shared about the health of the traffic policemen. What was your reaction on going through it? Were you aware that so many cops complain of thick sputum, joint pain etc?
I knew little bit but later, they told us in detail as to how their health gets affected and by the time they realize, it’s too late. But I am happy with the feedback and to see that people are trying to be more aware of the dangers of air pollution.

Talking about you films, I believe you are doing Lekh Tandon’s film Phir Usi Mod Par…
Yes and recently, I worked on a film called Coming Back Darling. It’s a romantic thriller and a murder mystery, featuring Arbaaz Khan in a double role. I play a cop. We had a start-to-finish schedule in Switzerland. The experience was great. Bahut hi kamaal ka shoot hua hai. The whole place was covered with snow. Hence, the look of the film is quite appealing. I don’t think any other Hindi film has been shown in Switzerland from start to finish and that too especially when it’s snowing throughout. Normally, only a part of the film or a song gets filmed in Switzerland. But Coming Back Darling is an exception. It is directed by Chandrakant Singh and is definitely a film that would be loved.

When will this film release?
Initially, they were planning for a June release but now, the plan is to release in September.

What’s the update about Solar Eclipse: Depth Of Darkness, in which you play Morarji Desai and Dr Parchure?
It is ready but the film’s release has got a bit delayed. The reports of the film are very positive.

You had a long association with Om Puri, who passed away earlier this year. How do you look back at this very talented performer and what memories do you have of him?
He was my senior in NSD (National School of Drama). When I first came to Mumbai, it was he who treated me like his younger brother. He guided me how to present myself in front of people. At the beginning, he gave me an important lesson which I remember till date and that is ‘Sachhe bane rehna’ (Be truthful). Dishonesty, lies will ruin your personality. He was quite an honest, genuine person. The first play I did in Mumbai was with him in the late 80s. It was called Rustom Sohrab. He played Rustom while Karan Razdan played the role of Sohrad. The role of Sohrab’s mother was essayed by Nadira Babbar. I played the role of the senapati and I composed sword fighting. Bada zabardast experience tha!

Some people are not destined for a settled, family life. Om Puri was sadly one of them. In the last few years, we worked together in a lot of films like Dirty Politics, Solar Eclipse: Depth Of Darkness, Project Marathwada, Khap etc. Then we did a fine film in 2009 called Baabarr. He was also there in my debut film, Antaheen (1986). It was directed by Dinesh Lakhanpal, a FTII graduate. I did a film with him called Bolo Raam. We shot the whole film in Lonavala. We were there for 15 days and our respective families also joined. It was lovely. Later, we were so close that we would be meeting every now and then. Mile bagair hum reh nahin paate the!

Last year, he was heavily criticized for his comments on the martyred soldier. However, he was quick to apologize
That was a mistake on his part although his intention was not to mock anyone. This was the time when he became too dependent on alcohol. In an inebriated condition, he used to end up saying something contrary to what he wanted to say. Sadly, his image got a beating especially with the said episode.

But he was quick to apologize and he also went and met the deceased’s family member. That was quite praiseworthy.
Yes and that’s because he was a genuine person and this proves it. In the end, he taught me that ‘life ko complicated mat banao’. This I guessed stemmed from his personal experience. Life should be simple. Don’t have too many possessions. You need not possess everything. You can lead a comfortable life even without lot of material possessions. Why overburden life? He wasn’t compatible with one woman so he married another. And then he went back to his first wife. This led to a lot of complications in his life and also, he became quite lonely at the end.

Coming back to Hawa Badlo, the other actors in that film – Vivek Oberoi, Swara Bhaskar, Kalki Koechlin, Vir Das – are all quite active on Twitter which helps them to further spread the message. Do you have any plans of joining social media in the near future? A lot of people don’t know the real Govind Namdev after all…
Yes, I plan to come on Twitter and Facebook very soon. As Om Puri told me, ‘life ko complicated mat banao’! That’s a big reason why I don’t go off track. Idhar udhar haath nahin daalta main. I don’t need to read and I am not answerable to anyone at present. The idea is that I should be focused on my work. So I am content at interacting with people via SMS, WhatsApp etc. At the same time, I understand that I can’t be so aloof. Look at Mr Amitabh Bachchan. He balances his work and interactions with fan online so well. If he can do, I can also try. I won’t be as active as him but can surely give it a shot!