The next king of comedy: How Varun Dhawan is stepping into Govinda’s shoes

Rohit Khilnani

Jul 30, 2016 18:00:39 IST

Unarguably, Govinda was the best mainstream comedy star of the late 80s and 90s. Working alongside with the three Khans who took Bollywood by storm, Govinda created a different place for himself and the Khans who were busy doing romantic films never bothered to enter that space.

Till Govinda played the lead in the kind of movies he did, comedy was considered mainstream but once he took a back seat, no hero tried to step into his shows and comic element in movies became brief and was given to character actors like Johnny Lever. Much later, Rohit Shetty made some hilarious comedy films but we can safely say, talent like Govinda was nowhere in sight.

The struggle that actors like Govinda went through is nothing that this generation of actors can even imagine, maybe that’s the reason they don’t see the stardom the yesteryears actors saw. Govinda, a young Virar boy had to struggle quite a bit in the mid-80s to get his first role. His family stayed in a chawl in Virar due to financial problems.

He used to travel by crowded trains to reach Bandra, where he would visit film producers, this was a part of his daily routine. Soon after getting out of the crowded train and leaving Bandra terminus he would get into a neat and ironed shirt, which he carried in a bag. He would then take the bus to meet film producers from Bandra.

After going back home he would practice dance for hours, he repeatedly watched Mithun Chakraborty’s 1982 hit Disco Dancer on VHS, one of the films that inspired him to be an actor. He faced a lot of rejection, most producers thought he looked too young to be an actor. After running from pillar to post and a lot of struggle, he signed his first film, Esmayeel Shroff’s Love 86 and then there was no looking back. After his first release Ilzaam in 1986, Govinda signed 47 films in the next four years, he hopped from one film set to the other, shot for three different films on any given day and worked all 365 days of the year.

In 1989 alone, Govinda had 15 releases. The fact that filmmakers kept repeating him is because his fans couldn’t get enough of him! In the early 90s he decided to cut down and took a bold decision of doing just four films in a year, a concept unheard in today’s times.


Varun Dhawan. Solaris Images.

Meanwhile, when Karan Johar made Student of the Year in 2012, he launched 3 newcomers, and one of them was David Dhawan’s son Varun Dhawan. All three actors, Alia Bhatt, Sidharth Malhotra and Varun Dhawan were packaged like perfect products for their launch. Post SOTY, all three actors went on to doing successful films with and without each other.

With his charming looks and natural comic timing, Varun, however stood out as someone who could pull off comedy. So his next film had to be directed by his father David Dhawan who is called the king of comedy movies. David made Main Tera Hero in which Varun was romancing two sexy ladies, Nargis Fakhri and Ileana D’cruz.

He did well with some crazy and funny dialogues like the famous one, “Main dikhta hoon sweet innocent swami type ka, lekin main hu bahaut bade harami type ka!” This reminded people of Govinda, who’s talent was quite unusual, his expressions, dialogue delivery, comic timing and his dancing style made him one of the most bankable stars at the box office for years.

Varun’s father David played a major role in shaping Govinda’s career, David directed Govinda in 17 films and they gave many hits including Swarg, Shola Aur Shabnam, Aankhen, Raja Babu, Coolie No 1, Hero No 1 and Deewana Mastana . It’s because these films Govinda became an iconic actor, hard to replace.

No other filmmaker can understand the power of the comic genre better than David Dhawan. So when his elder son Rohit decided to direct his brother Varun, clearly comedy was the safest route to take. Varun’s performance in Dishoom is brilliant, his role is tailor-made to place him where Govinda left and the young actor leaves no stone unturned in comfortably stepping into his shoes. He has got the timing and the expression just right.

Now Varun Dhawan’s movies cater to the family audience, it assures them a good time with some hearty laughs, something that Govinda’s films promised. But the big question is that does this generation of audience that’s exposed to foreign shows and web-series want an actor like Govinda? Looks like they do, Varun’s success at the box-office proves that.

Bollywood is an industry where stars change every Friday, Ranbir Kapoor’s last hit was Ye Jawaani Hai Deewani in 2013, Emraan Hashmi’s last hit was Raaz 3 in 2012, actors like Abhay Deol who showed a lot of promise are struggling to get films and here is an actor whose every film since his launch in 2012 has been a hit. In fact, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania with Alia Bhatt was so successful; Dharma Productions is now making another one with the same pair titled Badrinath Ki Dulhania.

Actors usually say they don’t want to stick to one genre and get stereotyped but if they are this good in something that's working with the fans then they should bloody well stick to it and milk it, till it lasts.

Rohit Khilnani is an Executive Editor with Web 18, you can follow him on Twitter @rohitkhilnani 

Updated Date: Jul 30, 2016 20:29:48 IST