Plagued with his new films stuck in the doldrums and not undertaking any fresh roles for four years, Bollywood's former romantic hero number one Govinda is seeking to regain his old glory in 2009 - with Pashupatinath's blessing.
While the Shahenshah of India's megabuck Hindi film industry Amitabh Bachchan decided to drop his plans to seek Lord Pashupatinath's blessing due to the mounting dispute over the hallowed shrine under Nepal's Maoist government, Govinda is in the Himalayan kingdom with his wife Sunita and school-going son Yashvardhan for a thanksgiving ceremony at the revered shrine.
"I went through a bad phase," the Bollywood star told IANS.
"My films could not be released due to problems and I did not take any assignment for four years.
"So I made a wish before Pashupatinath: if my films were released and did well, I would come to Nepal to make a thanksgiving offering.
"This year, six of my films are set for release.
"You have to pray to the gods, that's our tradition. But when they grant your wish, it is all the more imperative to make an offering."
On Friday (January 9), the actor and his wife would head for the shrine to offer an elaborate yajna ritual.
Six years ago, when Nepal's Maoist insurgents - who are now the ruling party -- called a truce after a seven-year-old savage guerrilla battle, Govinda had come to Nepal with former Miss World Priyanka Chopra to shoot dance sequences for a Hindi film, "Ek hasina, ek diwana".
That too is yet to see the light of day.
"It is one of the films that remained stuck," he said ruefully.
The Bollywood star said he has a long and loving relationship with Nepal. Besides beginning his shooting stint in the picturesque Himalayan nation with the 1997 film "Banarasi Babu", a quarter century ago he fell in love with Sunita Sharma and married her.
Sunita's parents lived in Sankhu on the outskirts of Kathmandu valley and since then, Nepal has been the star's "in-laws' place".
Govinda, whose family survived an accident in Rajasthan in 2005, will also be making a special wish before Pashupatinath for the health of his children, their long life and success, especially as his daughter Namrata, now 21, is set to make her Bollywood debut.
Deeply religious, Govinda attributes the close ties between India and Nepal to the grace and blessing of Pashupatinath and other gods, which, he said, leads to exchanges and development.
As an actor, who reflects people's dreams and aspirations on screen, he said artistes can contribute to bringing people together and ushering in peace.
However, where politics was concerned, the actor, who is also an MP from India's ruling Congress party, said it was better to "listen to one's seniors".
Govinda's luck seems to be turning this year as his Pashupatinath plan will fare better than Big B's.
The row over the 17th century Pashupatinath temple was resolved Wednesday night after Maoist Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda pledged in parliament to annul all controversial decisions taken by the trust that administers the shrine.
Prachanda also promised that the ousted Indian priests would be asked to continue with the traditional worship.
Subsequently Thursday morning, Indian chief priest Mahabaleshwar Bhatt and his Indian aides resumed regular worship at the temple after almost two weeks.
Another Bollywood great and former Indian member of parliament Shabana Azmi also kept her date with Nepal.
The star, who said she had first come to Nepal in 1974 to shoot a romantic film with Dev Anand "Ish Ishq Ishq", came on a three-day visit Monday as the SAARC goodwill ambassador for uniting against HIV/AIDS and TB.
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