Govinda – The Chote Miyan

“These rumors are created by certain camps who have are not happy with my success. These people have enjoyed making me a victim of their vindictiveness for a long time. I do not want to belittle myself by lashing out at these people and giving them undue importance. I must say that I am upset and very disappointed with two of my female co-stars. I don’t want to name names, but I will say that I have no intention of working with them in the future.”
(Tatanova, March 1, 2001)

Son of playback singer Nirmala Devi, Govinda nevertheless hails from a middle class background , and still occasionally struggles with the industry’s chosen language of business — English. But contrary to expecation, his appeal isn’t limited to India: fans around the world call him the best comedian and perhaps the best all-around entertainer since Shammi Kapoor.

Govinda   Despite his family’s film background, Govinda couldn’t count on connections to pave his path to stardom. Nearly broke, traveling by rickshaw and dressed in “declasse” street wear, he literally pushed his way into films by hanging around the Rajshri Productions office until they caved to his appeals.

    Now he has a slew of comedic hits to his name, and his portfolio of work is staggering in length. Yet as his competitors Aamir and Shahrukh Khan branch out into more artistic cinema, some are beginning to fear that Govinda has typecast himself into an early career grave. Govinda himself ridicules the notion: “Asoka was made to bag the Oscar while the film which won the Oscar last year was Life is Beautiful, which, unlike Asoka, is my kind of film. Any sincere effort will receive acclaim somewhere. Of course, improvement is a must. One must constantly improve!” (Cineblitz, Mar. 2002)

   The less-than-flattering reference to Asoka as failed Oscar bait (which the Cineblitz journalist notes is spoken with obvious sarcasm) may reflect Govinda’s on-again, off-again war of words with Shahrukh Khan. Khan, in a March 2000 interview with Filmfare Online, explains the origin of the sniping: “I’d said something in English which was misunderstood by a certain segment of people around him. I’d said something on a show to the effect that ‘I can do what I do best. I cannot do what Govinda can do and perhaps Govinda can’t do what I can’. It did not mean that I will not do what Govinda does. I wish I could do what Govinda does. I wish I could put my lungi over my head and dance but I can’t do it. But it was quoted very differently. He told me also that his mother was very hurt because she felt I was saying that Govinda doesn’t do good things. I felt very bad about that. I didn’t know how to explain. I called him up and said, ‘Listen, please explain to your mom that I didn’t mean it this way.’ I just said that in English it sounds very different. That I can’t do what he does and maybe he can’t do what I do. It wasn’t meant to be that I will not do what he does. Or what he does is derogatory or bad. I guess that cleared it up. After that I’ve never had a misunderstanding with him.”

   Khan is not the only actor to have experienced misunderstandings with Govinda. He had a falling out with Salman Khan that was allegedly due to his displeasure at the prospect of Khan working with Rani Mukherjee, the actress with whom Govinda is rumored to be having an (extramarital) affair. Govinda denies that this was the cause: “It’s all bullshit! My misunderstanding with Salman was over a film that Arbaaz [Salman’s brother] and I were to star in, which has also been sorted out. There was no fight. Who am I to interfere with Rani’s life? She is a free individual and can work with whoever she wants. Besides, this story of my so-called affair with Rani has gone on for too long. I am really tired of it. Rani and I are just co-stars and good friends, whether the media likes to believe it or not!” (, Mar. 1, 2001)

   Amisha Patel, who has recently dropped out of two upcoming Govinda films, is also supposed to share cool vibes with the actor. When asked whether she hates him, he diplomatically replies, “There is nothing to like or dislike really. But yes, there is a desire to work with certain people… If this desire is missing at the other end, I realise it by a simple handshake. Yes, a mere handshake with my would-be co-star is enough for me to gauge how strongly s/he wants to work with me. I felt that Amisha didn’t want to work with me. But then she has a mind of her own and everyone is free to make their own choices.” (Cineblitz, Mar. 2002)

   Govinda has alienated newcomer Amrita Arora (sister-in-law of Salman Khan’s brother), who he replaced shortly before shooting was to begin on their film on the pretext that she looked too young for him. Amrita publicly replied that he looked too old for her, and that it was his loss for firing her. He obliquely responds, “It’s true, it is my loss. Besides the loss of doing a film with her there’s also the loss of respectability. Things should have been discussed at the onset itself and shouldn’t have been left to the last minute. All said and done, she is a newcomer and my best wishes are with her.” (Cineblitz, Mar. 2002)

   But the scandal that hit him hardest was being taken in for police questioning following the mafia-instigated Bombay riots of 1993.  Though, unlike Sanjay Dutt, he was not charged with a crime, he still dislikes talking about it. “These rumours about me being involved in underworld activities are baseless. Tell me, can I do something like that? I am a happy man, earning my bread and butter from acting in films. If you are talking about the photographs of mine with the underworldwallahs, so many people walk into the sets to have pictures taken. How will you know who is a member of the underworld? Please don’t talk about these matters.” (Rediff, Dec. 1997)

   Perhaps Govinda’s most famous asset is his dancing; choreographers like Farah Khan have praised his skill in film glossies and co-stars shudder at the challenge of matching his liquid grace. But not everyone is impressed. Renowed artist M.F. Husain, when discussing his obsession with Madhuri Dixit to Rediff in February 1999, explains, “See the way she moves, the way she dances. Compare it to Govinda. Whereas he looks coarse, vulgar, unbearable, she looks gorgeous, almost sacrosanct.” In his impolitic way, Husain has actually pinpointed Govinda’s appeal: instead of playing to the over-refined tastes of a pretentious elite, Govinda targets the group he himself hails from — the “common” masses.  And rightly, they love him for it.

born: December 21, 1963
height: 5′ 8″

1986 Ilzaam
1986 Love ’86
1986 Tan Badan
1987 Dadagiri
1987 Dariya Dil
1987 Mera Lahoo
1987 Pyar Karke Dekho
1988 Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani
1988 Hatya*
1988 Jeete Hain Shaan Se
1988 Pyar Mohabat
1988 Shiva Shakti
1988 Tohfa Mohabbat Ka
1989 Aakhri Baazi
1989 Asmaan Se Ooncha
1989 Biloo Badshah
1989 Do Qaidi
1989 Dost Garibon Ka
1989 Farz Ki Jung
1989 Gair Kanooni
1989 Gentleman
1989 Gharana
1989 Gola Barood
1989 Jaisi Karni Waisi Barni
1989 Jungbaaz
1989 Paap Ka Ant
1989 Sachai Ki Taqat
1989 Taaqatwar
1990 Apmaan Ki Aag
1990 Awaargi
1990 Bhabhi
1990 Izzatdaar
1990 Kali Ganga
1990 Karz Chukana Hai
1990 Kaun Kare Qurbani
1990 Mahasangram
1990 Mohabbat Ki Aag
1990 Naya Khoon
1990 Raaizaada
1990 Swarg
1990 Taqdeer Ka Tamasha
1991 Hum
1992 Baaz
1990 Jaan Se Pyaara
1990 Muqabla
1990 Naach Govinda Naach
1990 Radha Ka Sangam
1990 Shola Aur Shabnam
1990 Zulm Ki Hukumat
1993 Aadmi Khilona Hai
1993 Aankhen*
1993 Praktiksha
1993 Teri Payal Mere Geet
1993 Zakhmo Ka Hisaab
1994 Aag
1994 Andolan
1994 Beta Ho To Aisa
1994 Bhagaywan
1994 Brahma
1994 Dulaara
1994 Ekka Raja Rani
1994 Hathkadi
1994 Khuddar
1994 Prem Shakti
1994 Raja Babu
1995 Coolie No.1*
1995 Do Aankhen Baarah Haath
1995 Gambler
1995 Kismat
1995 Rock Dancer
1996 Apne Dam Par
1996 Chhote Sarkar
1996 Maahir
1996 Saajan Chale Sasural
1996 Zordaar
1997 Agni Chakra
1997 Deewana Mastana*
1997 Hero No. 1*
1997 Kaun Rokega Mujhe
1997 Loha
1998 Achanak
1998 Aunty No. 1
1998 Bade Miyan Chote Miyan
1998 Banarasi Babu
1998 Dulhe Raja*
1998 Junglee
1998 Maharaja
1998 Naseeb
1998 Pardesi Babu
1999 Anari No. 1*
1999 Haseena Maan Jayegi
1999 Hum Tum Pe Marte Hain
1999 Rajaji
2000 Beti No. 1
2000 Hardh Kar Di Aapne
2000 Jis Desh Mein Ganga Rehta Hai
2000 Joru Ka Ghulam
2000 Kunwara
2000 Shikari
2001 Aamdani Atthani Kharcha Rupaiya
2001 Albela
2001 Censor
2001 Chalo Ishq Ladaye
2001 Dil Ne Phir Yaad Kiya
2001 Jodi No. 1*
2001 Kyonki Main Jhoot Nahin Bolta

2002 Pyaar Deewana Hota Hai
2003 Ek Aur Ek Gyaarah
2003 Chalo Ishq Ladaye
2003 Khullam Khula Pyaar Karen
2003 Waah! Tera Kya Kehna
* acclaimed performance

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