Govinda: Mani clears the air!

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By Hindustan Times

New Delhi, June 16 -- Ever since Govinda (top) signed up for Mani Ratnam's (far right) modern--day version of the Ramayana, speculations about what his character in the film would be like have been doing the rounds.

The actor is reportedly playing a character modelled on Hanuman. He'll be seen playing a forest officer who helps Vikram's character, Dev, to hunt for his wife, Ragini (played by Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), who has been abducted by Beera (Abhishek Bachchan).

Reportedly, Ratnam, miffed with Govinda's tardiness, altered his scenes, and the actor was aghast to learn that his part had been abruptly chopped. The actor's absence at the music launch in May compounded speculation of problems between Govinda and Ratnam. Ratnam, however, rebutts this. "Govinda's role has shaped up amazingly in context of the storyline."

Asked why he cast the actor in the forest officer's role, Ratnam explains, "Sometimes, we cast faces against the image. When you're putting the cast together, you realise that for a certain role with limited screen time, a star will be essential because he or she can add meat to the character. Govinda easily blended into his character."

Ratnam points out that one has to see the film to understand his perspective behind the casting. "Govinda put in an extra effort and made the role interesting despite its screen duration. He makes a considerable impact with his performance," he says.

A source close to the film clarifies that since Raavan was shot approximately in 200 days, every actor's role was reduced a little to maintain the flow and rhythm of the story. "Govinda is known to speak his mind. If he'd to make an issue, he'd have addressed it to Mani sir. But he seemed pleased," says the source.