Spotlight on Govinda

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“I believe in miracles. That I’m a successful actor is the biggest of them all.” ~ Govinda

Govinda is one of Bollywood’s most enduring stars. He can do both comedy and drama, is considered one of the best dancers in Bollywood, and presents a naturalness on screen that contributes to brilliant performances. His career has had it ups and downs, but with his new film Partner set to release on Friday, we thought we would turn the spotlight on this great actor: everyone is falling for Chi-Chi all over again!

Govind Arun Ahuja was born in Virar, Maharashtra, India. While growing up in the chawls of Mumbai, he used to go the movies: “The filmy bug bit me then and I wished to enter films. There was a theatre right opposite my house and I saw two shows everyday.” At the young age of 15 he would go to Rajshri Studios to try and get a part in a movie but he was rejected because he was so young. He then had a brilliant idea of making a film reel that showed photographs of him as well as scenes of him dancing and delivering lines. It was an innovative idea to get himself noticed and seen as a talented actor. This is a standard practice nowadays but then it was something never done before.

It is difficult to enter Bollywood without having a “godfather” or the backing of the big banners in the industry. Govinda had to struggle to be accepted by the industry. He eventually made his debut in the film Ilzaam in 1986. The film was a success and his career was off and running. It was Govinda’s time to shine. He went on to be moderately successful in the following years and gave some hits, such as Love 86, Khudgarz, and Hatya. (The latter was directed by his brother Kirti Kumar.) It was at this time that he put forward his tremendous dancing ability and he was considered a rival of Mithun Chakraborty at the time!

In 1989 he worked for the first time with director David Dhawan in the action film Taaqatwar. This would be the beginning of a successful partnership that would last through many films. He worked with Dhawan again in Shola Aur Shabnam and Aankhen. These films were not only successful but they also showed Govinda’s talent in comic roles. They had super hits including Raja Babu (1994), Coolie No. 1 (1995), Saajan Chale Sasural (1996), Hero No. 1 (1997), Deewana Mastana (1997), Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998), Haseena Maan Jaayegi (1999) and Jodi No. 1 (2000).

Govinda also had hits at the box office with: Khuddar, Karz Chukana Hai, Jaan Se Pyara, Aadmni Khilona Hai, Hero No.1, Dulhe Raja, Bade Mian Chotte Mian, and Kyon Kii…Main Jhuth Nahin Bolta.

To date he has made over 120 Hindi films, working with many of the luminaries in the industry such as Amitabh Bachachan, Anil Kappor, Juhi Chlawa, Hema Malini, Neelam, Karishma Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Rani Mukerhjee and Anil Kapoor to name just a few.

In 2000 Govinda portrayed a negative role for the first time in the movie Shikari. His performance was critically acclaimed, but the movie did not do well at the box office.

After this, his career seemed to be on a downslide and he was not as popular with the theater going audiences. He made a few more films but then in 2003 he decided to go a different direction in life. He ran for and won a parliamentary seat for Mumbai. He had success and some controversy as an MP but he is very proud of the work he was able to accomplish. He is still working hard on many issues that he feels are very important including; making the railway system in India better and next will turn his focus to education.

But once an actor always an actor, and after a 3 year hiatus Govinda was ready to enter Bollywood again. His first film back was Bhagam Bang, he was very well received in the role of Babla.

His second film on the comeback road was the multi-starrer Salaam-E-Ishq and about that film he said, “I got to play a purely romantic character only in my 126th film, Salaam-e-Ishq. Since people loved me in it, I will continue doing more such roles.”

He is ecstatic to be an actor again and is making the most of his second inning. He calls Partner his “proper comeback film”, again teaming up with director Dhawan. The film also stars Salman Khan, and he gets to romance Katrina Kaif with love advice from Salman Khan’s character. Salman said of working with Govinda,”I would look at his film posters and say that if I could achieve even half of what he has, I will be successful. And I can’t believe my luck today, I’m working with my favorite actor”. Govinda said, “Apart from being a fantastic actor, Salman is a great human being. We belong to the same school of acting. In Partner, we bring our 20-year experience in Bollywood.”

Partner is said to be a hysterical comedy and the team of Salman and Govinda a great match up! This film is set to make Chi-Chi a huge star once again.

Interesting facts:

A little known fact is that Govinda began taking classes from the veteran choreographer Saroj Khan, who was impressed enough to ask him to teach at the dance academy.

One of his most memorable moments is “The day I bought my mother a saree from my first pay-packet, the day I bought her a flat and the day she predicted that I’d be a star within a year.”

Philosophy of Life: Worship your mother and respect your father and guru.

He once commented that if he was a burglar he would want to steal “people’s hearts”.

He was also asked what role he would “give his eyes and teeth for” and responded “No role can be worth that much. Who would want to see a blind and toothless Govinda.”

He had a narrow escape from death on January 5, 1994. While traveling to a studio for the shooting of Khuddar (1994) his car hit another car, resulting in injuries to his head. After treatment, he worked on the film until midnight.

Govinda was a playback singer on several movies including Haseena Maan Jaayegi (1999), Dulaara (1994), Aankhen (1993) Shola Aur Shabnam (1992).

His awards and nominations include:

* 1997 – Special Filmfare award for Saajan Chale Sasural 1998 Lux Zee Cine Award for Best Actor in a Comic Role for Dulhe Raja
* 1998 – Special Videocon Screen award from Jury for overall performance
* 1999 – Zee Cine Award for Best Actor in a Comic Role for Bade Miyan Chote Miyan
* 1999 – Filmfare Best Comedian Award, Haseena Maan Jaayegi
* 2000 – Zee Cine Award for Best Actor in a Comic Role for Haseena Maan Jaayegi
* 2001-Nominated for Screen Weekly Awards Best Performance in a Negative Role for Shikari. Also nominated at the Filmfare awards of that year for Best Comedian for Kunwara (2000) and Best Villian in Shikari (2000)
* 2002-Nominated at Filmfare Awards for Best Comedian for both Jodi No. 1 and Kyo Kii…Main Jhuth Nahin Bolta (2001). He also won the Popular Award at that years Filmfare for Performance in a Comic role – Jodi No. 1
* 2003- Nominated for Best performance in a Comic Role for Akhiyon Se Goli Maare (2002)
* 2007 – “Excellent Comic Actor” Award at the Star Gold Comedy Honors

Govinda will always be a popular and loved actor because of his rags to riches story and the fact that he has had to work hard for his success. He is a one man entertainment show, he can do it all: dance, drama, comedy and looks like he enjoys every minute he spends on screen. We applaud him for the roles of the past, look forward to seeing Partner and for all the performances he will give us in the future. We are under the magical spell of Chi-Chi again!

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