Govinda Marriage: When Infidelity Leads To Lasting Commitment

Govinda watched Mithun Chakraborthy in Disco Dancer (1982), as an awestruck and spirited 19-year old. The film achieved cult status, and, of course, Govinda was one among many ardent followers.

Influenced by the gyrating and slick moves of Mithun da, Govinda made a video of his very own dance performance and circulated it amongst ad agencies. A few weeks later he got an opportunity to work in an advertisement, and thereafter was noticed by a casting director – and thus the doors of show business opened for Govinda.

He married his childhood friend Sunita in 1987, after having been acquainted with her for many years. Sunita was not Govinda’s only love though, and it is a well-known fact that he fell the actress Neelam – the avant-garde actress opposite whom he starred in Ilzaam (1986), as well as a number of other films.

He also had a fling with Rani Mukerji, which was bordering on the scandalous. Govinda has been vocal about his relationships for most of his career, but his wife Sunita has remained the anchor in his life for more than 25 years. So how exactly has the Govinda marriage story been?

Govinda – The Actor Who Made Comedy Cool

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Govinda was born Govind Arun Ahuja on 21st December, 1963, the son of yesteryear actor Arun Kumar Ahuja, and singer-actress Nirmala Devi. He was the youngest of six. After completing his graduation in commerce, Govinda decided to make a foray in the world of show business just like his parents had done. But he wanted to carve out a niche for himself and thus chose to excel at dancing after being inspired by Disco Dancer – making his debut with Ilzaam in 1986. Govinda would go on to have a glittering career post that.

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By the early 1990s, Govinda was known as a force to be reckoned with in Bollywood. In the mid-1990s, he established himself as an actor who was excelled at comedy in an effortless manner. In fact, Govinda is often regarded as the pioneer behind the ‘comic hero’ trend, and even today is best known for his funnier roles.

Govinda also made a foray into politics in 2004 but quit after 2008 to focus on his Bollywood career. He has been active in the industry since, albeit sporadically, and has now comfortably settled in the role of a supporting actor.

Sunita Ahuja – The Childhood Sweetheart And Love Of His Life

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In the mid-1980s, Govinda was still a struggling actor, and would frequently visit his maternal uncle, the filmmaker Anand Singh. It was on one of his visits to his uncle’s residence that he happened to meet his uncle’s sister-in-law, Sunita. Sunita was nearly the same age as Govinda, born to a Punjabi father and Nepali mother. The two shared little in common – Govinda was a rustic village boor, while Sunita was the hip city girl.

This conflict in personality and mindset became the perfect grounds for them to playfully argue about various nuances of their life. None had thought that their jolly bickering would one day take a turn towards romance and within one year of knowing each other the two began an amorous relationship. Their friendship was not unnoticed though, and Sunita’s brother-in-law was well aware that the two had a soft corner for one another. It was Govinda’s mother though, who was supportive of his relationship, and she even went as far as telling him to tie the knot with Sunita when the time felt right.

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Sunita and Govinda saw each other for over three years, and would communicate through letters, which Sunita would smuggle in and out of the house with the help of her brother. Abruptly one day, Sunita’s mother got hold of a letter, and soon got the whiff of Govinda-Sunita matter. Unlike Govinda’s mother, she was not supportive of their relationship chiefly due to the point that Govinda was an actor. Despite that, she eventually caved-in due to the support Govinda had from his mother and uncle. Sunita and Govinda finally tied the knot on 11th March 1987 in Mumbai. The wedding was kept under wraps to not jeopardise the actor’s female fan-following.

Eventually, the couple spilled the beans after the birth of their daughter Tina Ahuja in the year 1988. Their son Yashvardhan was born shortly after.

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In the year 2014 Govinda and Sunita remarried, which sparked rumours that it was done on the behest of his wife to make him recommit. But later Govinda shared that it was done because they had a cursory wedding ceremony back in 1987 (due to undisclosed reasons), and that his mother had asked him to remarry with an elaborate ceremony later in life.

Neelam – Govinda’s First True Crush

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Govinda and Neelam made their debut with the same film Ilzaam in the year 1986. The film met a lukewarm reception but Govinda and Neelam struck up a friendship, which soon manifested into one-sided love – from Govinda’s end. Their relationship blew hot and cold, building-up steam at certain time only to stay deflated for long periods after. It was in the mid-1990s that Govinda made candid revelations about his long-lost love for the actress Neelam to a film magazine.

“I loved her, but it was my decision to marry Sunita… I was committed to her and I couldn’t have dropped her after I fell in love with Neelam.”
– Govinda about his crush on the actress Neelam

It is said that Govinda’s infatuation towards Neelam was very palpable but Govinda always retracted any further steps because he had given his word to Sunita. Neelam and Govinda met for the first time at the production office of their first film. Govinda later shared that he was smitten the moment he saw Neelam but stayed conscious to the fact that they were poles apart – Neelam was a foreign bred beauty while Govinda was a desi simpleton. The duo were a successful on-screen couple and Neelam did numerous films together until the early 90s.

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“I couldn’t believe that such a young girl, even after attaining so much name, fame and wealth, could be so simple and down-to-earth. I couldn’t stop praising her. To my friends, to my family. Even to Sunita, to whom I was committed.”
– Govinda about Neelam

Govinda even tried to model his girlfriend Sunita around Neelam. He would often insist her to take styling and behaviour cues from Neelam, which invariably infuriated Sunita. Things got to the point that once, when arguing, Sunita brought up Neelam, which left Govinda enraged to the extent that he called off their engagement. It was due to her coaxing and cajoling that he later had a change of heart, otherwise he had nearly taken the resolute step to tie the knot with Neelam.

“Every time I broached the topic of marriage, she would laugh it off…. We probably would never have been successful as a married couple. And maybe, Neelam realised that.”
– Govinda about his relationship with Neelam

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The Govinda marriage with Neelam never took flight owing to the fact that Govinda was already committed to Sunita, and Neelam was more keen on concentrating on her career than marriage. Eventually, the Govinda-Neelam relationship lost steam after Govinda’s marriage to Sunita. The hype of their fling fizzled out by mid-1990s, and it soon became a piece of filmy history.

Rani Mukerji – The Unexpected Jodi

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In late 1990s, Govinda got involved with the new actress on the block, Rani Mukerji. Although relatively new, she had made her mark with her fourth film Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). She signed her 10th film Hadh Kar Di Aapne with the actor Govinda in the year 1999, and thereafter the cast and crew left for the US and Switzerland for principal photography.

Govinda and Rani were said to be of very similar nature and temperament, which helped elevate their professional relationship to the point of friendship. Many sources close to the making of the film then shared that Govinda and Rani would be spotted chirping and guffawing during shooting breaks on numerous occasions. The duo had certainly developed a liking for one another, and stayed in touch even after returning to India.

Thereafter began the real affair, where Govinda would make frequent visits to Rani’s place as a ‘well-wisher.’ It is said that he gifted her an array of presents – from expensive cars to a luxury flat – it seemed that there was more to their relationship than just ‘being friends.’ It was all hush-hush until a reporter, when visiting Rani’s residence for an interview, spotted Govinda walking out from Mukerji’s bedroom in a night suit. No rewards for guessing what happened there.

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The news was splashed all across the gossip columns of tabloids and magazines, and everyone lapped it up in a frenzy. Govinda’s wife Sunita once shared in an interview that she would often buy a magazine just to keep a track of all the news pertaining to Govinda. It is quite likely that she would have leant the matter and must have confronted Govinda. The ensuing conversation would have left quite an indelible mark on Govinda because he ceased to sign any films with Rani Mukerji thereafter, and it was the last of Govinda’s flings, ever. Rani Mukerji went on to marry the prolific film producer Aditya Chopra in the year 2014 but that is a different story.

Then And Now

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Govinda and Sunita have seen their share of ups and downs in their relationship but have kept the faith in their marriage alive. It is quite commendable that Sunita stood by Govinda’s side even during some truly trying times. Their daughter Tina Ahuja made her debut in the year 2015, and is certainly on her way to having a full-fledged career in Bollywood.

We wish the Govinda family the best for life, and many years of happiness and togetherness.

Images Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11

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