During the 1980s, Govinda's films spanned genres and included family, drama, action, and romance. He started out as an action hero in the 80's and reinvented himself as a comedy hero in 90's. At one time, Amitabh co-starred with him on his comeback to rejuvenate his market when his comeback films failed miserably. He was recognised in the following decade as a comic actor after playing a mischievous young NCC cadet in the 1992 romance Shola Aur Shabnam, with Divya Bharti. Govinda had lead roles in several commercially successful comedy films, including Aankhen (1993), Raja Babu (1994), Coolie No. 1 (1995), Hero No. 1 (1997) and Haseena Maan Jaayegi (1999). He received a Filmfare Best Comedian Award for Haseena Maan Jayegi and a Filmfare Special Award for Saajan Chale Sasural. Govinda has played dual roles in several movies, including Jaan Se Pyaara (1992), Aankhen (1993), Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998) and Anari No.1 (1999). He played six roles in Hadh Kar Di Aapne (2000): Raju and his mother, father, sister, grandmother and grandfather.
After a number of box office flops in the 2000s, his later commercial successes included Bhagam Bhag (2006), Partner (2007), Life Partner (2009) etc. In 2015 Govinda became a judge on Zee TV's dance-based reality show, Dance India Dance Super Mom Season 2, replacing Mithun Chakraborty. The show received the highest TRP of any reality-show opening episode.
Govinda (a member of the Indian National Congress) was elected the seventh member of parliament for the Mumbai North constituency of Maharashtra, India in the 14th Lok Sabha elections in 2004, defeating Ram Naik of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Govinda was born on 21 December 1963 to former actor Arun Kumar Ahuja and singer-actress Nirmala Devi into a family with Punjabi and Sindhi roots. Arun is best known for Mehboob Khan's Aurat (1940). He produced one unsuccessful film, and became ill shortly afterwards. The family, living in a bungalow on Mumbai's Carter Road, moved to Virar—a northern Mumbai suburb—where Govinda was born. The youngest of six children, he was given the pet name "Chi Chi", meaning "little finger" in Punjabi, the language spoken at home.
After Govinda received a Bachelor of Commerce degree, his father suggested a career in film. Around this time, Govinda saw the film Disco Dancer; afterwards, he practised for hours and circulated a promotional VHS cassette. He was offered jobs in a fertiliser commercial and an Allwyn ad. His first lead role was in Tan-Badan, directed by his uncle Anand. Govinda began shooting for his next film, Love 86, in June 1985. His first release was Ilzaam which was a box office success, soon followed by another hit Love 86 that same year.
He went on to star in many films of various genres between 1987 and 1989 including the family dramas Khudgarz (1987), Dariya Dil (1988), Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani (1988) and action films including Hatya (1988), Marte Dam Tak (1987), Jeete Hain Shaan Se (1988) and Jung Baaz (1989). Govinda worked with David Dhawan for the first time in the 1989 action film Taaqatwar and worked with Rajinikanth and Sridevi in Gair Kanooni that same year
In 1990 Govinda starred in the cult classic Awaargi, with Anil Kapoor and Meenakshi Sheshadri. Swarg and Maha Sangram co-starring Vinod Khanna, Aditya Pancholi and Madhuri Dixit were also successful. In 1991, he appeared alongside Amitabh Bachchan and Rajnikant in the hit film Hum. In 1992 he appeared in Zulm Ki Hukumat, an Indian version of The Godfather, and David Dhawan's Shola Aur Shabnam. His successful collaboration with Dhawan continued with Aankhen, the highest-grossing film of 1993. He and Dhawan would make several successful comedy films which included: Raja Babu (1994), Coolie No. 1 (1995), Saajan Chale Sasural (1996), Banarasi Babu (1997), Deewana Mastana (1997), Hero No. 1 (1997), Bade Miyan Chote Miyan (1998) and Haseena Maan Jaayegi (1999). The actor sang in some of his films: "Meri Pant Bhi Sexy" in Dulaara and "Gori Gori" in Shola Aur Shabnam. Dhawan and other directors frequently cast him with actresses such as Karishma Kapoor, Juhi Chawla and Raveena Tandon during this decade.
Govinda's career had a setback during the early 2000s after a series of commercially unsuccessful films. His hits included Kunwara, Hadh Kar Di Aapne, Jodi No.1, Kyo Kii... Main Jhuth Nahin Bolta and Ek Aur Ek Gyarah. Although the actor was nominated for Filmfare Awards for Best Performance in a Comic Role for Kunwara, Jodi No.1, Kyo Kii... Main Jhuth Nahin Bolta and Akhiyon Se Goli Maare, since 2002 most of his films have been unsuccessful at the box office.
He played a villain for the first time in his career in Shikari (2000). Although the movie was not a commercial success, Govinda's convincing portrayal of a sociopathic murderer was critically acclaimed. He turned down roles in Taal, Gadar: Ek Prem Katha and Devdas, all of which were successful.
Govinda then joined the Indian National Congress. He won a seat in Parliament from Mumbai North by defeating five-time MP Ram Naik, a former Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas, by over 50,000 votes in the 2004 general election.
The actor took a break from films during the period of 2003 to 2005. He had no new film releases in 2004 and 2005, although some of his delayed films were released during this time (such as 2005's Khullam Khulla Pyaar Karen and Ssukh—produced by Govinda and directed by his brother, Kirti Kumar—and 2006's Sandwich) and were box office failures.
Govinda made a comeback to films in late 2006 with the hit comedy Bhagam Bhag (directed by Priyadarshan), in which he appeared with Akshay Kumar and Lara Dutta. It was Govinda and Kumar's first film together.
His first release of 2007 was director Nikhil Advani's big-budget drama, Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love. The all-star cast also included Shannon Esra, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Anil Kapoor, Juhi Chawla, Akshaye Khanna, Ayesha Takia, John Abraham, Vidya Balan, Sohail Khan and Isha Koppikar. Govinda played Raju, a taxi driver who helps the Caucasian Stephanie (Shannon Esra) who is frantically trying to find her lover. Raju eventually falls in love with her. Although the film was a box office disappointment, Govinda's performance was praised.
His second release that year was a comedy directed by David Dhawan Partner co-starring Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif and Lara Dutta. The film grossed ₹300 million in India during its opening week, the second-highest domestic opening-week gross for an Indian film at that time. Govinda won several awards for his performance in Partner including an IIFA Best Comedian Award and a Zee Cine Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Male. The previously-made Jahan Jaaeyega Hamen Paaeyega, also released in 2007, did poorly at the box office. The actor appeared in the song "Deewangi Deewangi", from Om Shanti Om.
In 2008 Govinda appeared in Money Hai Toh Honey Hai, directed by Bollywood choreographer Ganesh Acharya, which was a box office failure. This was followed by a T K Rajeev Kumar-directed comedy, Chal Chala Chal. Govinda's performance was praised, and the film was successful. That year Salman Khan invited Dhawan and Govinda on his show, 10 Ka Dum, to celebrate the success of Partner.
The following year he played a lawyer in the hit, Life Partner, and his performance was praised by the critics. Govinda rejoined Dhawan and Vashu Bhagnani for Do Knot Disturb; despite good reviews from critics, it was unsuccessful at the box office.
In 2010 Govinda appeared in Mani Ratnam's bilingual project, Raavan, with Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai. He played a Forest Ministry employee who takes Vikram's character through the woods in search of a wanted criminal. Govinda denied reports that his character was a contemporary version of Hanuman, and his performance in the minor role was praised.
In 2011 he appeared in Jagmohan Mundhra's adult comedy, Naughty @ 40. Although the film received negative reviews, Govinda's performance was appreciated. He also appeared in Rajnish Thakur's comedy, Loot, and voiced Bajrangi the monkey for Nikhil Advani's animated Delhi Safari.
In 2013 Govinda co-starred with Priyanka Chopra in K. C. Bokadia's box office failure, Deewana Main Deewana, which had been made about ten years earlier. The film, a Hindi remake of the Tamil film Priyamudan, was directed by Vincent Selva; Govinda's performance as a villain was praised. He made his Bengali debut as a deputy inspector general of police in Dipak Sanyal's Samadhi, co-starring Gracy Singh and Sayali Bhagat, another box office failure.
In 2014 Govinda appeared in AR Murugadoss's Holiday, starring Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha. This was the second collaboration of Govinda and Akshay Kumar, after Bhagam Bhag.
Three years after his last starring role he starred in Yash Raj Film's Kill Dil, directed by Shaad Ali, with Ranveer Singh, Parineeti Chopra and Ali Zafar. Govinda last played an antagonist in 2000's Shikari. In the film posters, he posed with a gun. The trailer was released on 18 September 2014. The trailer was appreciated by Amitabh Bachchan. The film was released on 14 November 2014; although Kill Dil was not a commercial success, Govinda's performance was praised by critics.
He played a superstar in Happy Ending with Saif Ali Khan and Ileana D'Cruz, his first appearance with Khan. Its trailer was released on 9 October 2014. The film was released on 21 November 2014; it was a box office failure, but Govinda's performance was praised.
In 2015 Govinda appreared in Hey Bro, starring Nupur Sharma and Ganesh Acharya.
In 2017, Govinda was seen as a cop in his home production Aa Gaya Hero, which was directed by Deepankar Senapati. The film also stars former Miss World Richa Sharma, Ashutosh Rana, Murali Sharma, Makarand Deshpande and Harish Kumar. Aa Gaya Hero will be Govinda's third production, after Hatya and Ssukh. It was release on 24 February 2017. The film did not receive success on box office.
Govinda has worked with Shakti Kapoor on 42 films. They last performed together in Naughty @ 40. He has worked with Kader Khan on 41 films. Govinda and Khan were last seen together in Deewana Main Deewana, which was released almost 10 years after it was filmed. Govinda, Kapoor and Khan have appeared together in 22 films.
Govinda and Johnny Lever have appeared in 22 films, with Lever primarily playing comic roles. Govinda has made 14 films with Satish Kaushik; they last appeared together in 2009's Do Knot Disturb. Govinda has made 14 films with Paresh Rawal. He and Sanjay Dutt have worked together in seven films: Jeete Hain Shaan Se, Taaqatwar, Do Qaidi, Andolan, Haseena Maan Jaayegi, Jodi No.1 and Ek Aur Ek Gyarah.
The actor was frequently paired with Neelam Kothari during the 1980s and early 1990s. They have made 10 films together: Govinda's debut Ilzaam, Love 86, Khudgarz, Ghar Mein Ram Gali Mein Shyam, Hatya, Taaqatwar, Do Qaidi, Dost Garibon Ka, Farz Ki Jung and Billoo Badshah.
During the 1990s, Govinda was often paired with Karisma Kapoor. They have made 10 films together: Muqabla, Prem Shakti, Raja Babu, Dulaara, Khuddar, Coolie No. 1, Saajan Chale Sasural, Hero No. 1, Haseena Maan Jaayegi and Shikari. He has appeared in nine films with Raveena Tandon: Aunty No. 1, Dulhe Raja, Bade Miyan Chote Miyan, Pardesi Babu, Rajaji, Anari No.1, Akhiyon Se Goli Maare, Waah! Tera Kya Kehna and Sandwich
Govinda has made eight films with Juhi Chawla: Swarg, Bhabhi, Karz Chukana Hai, Radha Ka Sangam, Bhagyawan, Deewana Mastana, Aamdani Atthani Kharcha Rupaiyaa and Salaam-e-Ishq: A Tribute to Love, and a cameo in Andaz Apna Apna. He made two films with Divya Bharti: Shola Aur Shabnam and Jaan Se Pyaara.
Govinda has made five films with Shilpa Shetty: Aag, Hathkadi, The Gambler, Chhote Sarkar and Pardesi Babu; four films with Lara Dutta (Bhagam Bhag, Partner, Do Knot Disturb and the upcoming Banda Yeh Bindaas Hai), and three with Rani Mukerji: Hadh Kar Di Aapne, Pyaar Diwana Hota Hai and Chalo Ishq Ladaaye.
In 2004, Govinda joined the Congress Party party and was elected to the Lok Sabha (the lower house of the Indian parliament) from Mumbai by 50,000 votes over the five-term incumbent.
During the elections, he said his agenda would be prawaas (transportation), swasthya (health) and gyaan (education). In the field of transportation, he claimed 80% credit for the quadrupling of the Borivali-Virar section of the Western Railway zone. According to official sources, he made some efforts in the fields of health and education. The Thane district collector said in an interview that Govinda had committed money from his "local area development fund" (allocated to each MP by the government) to construct anganwadis and solve drinking-water problems in Vasai and Virar but administrative approval was delayed.
Govinda's filmstar status could explain his inaccessibility to his constituents but not his absence from parliament. During his tenure as the Member of Parliament, Govinda was usually absent when the Lok Sabha was in session and he was severely criticised for inactivity. At the same time, he continued his film career while he was serving as an MP. Indeed, his career witnessed a comeback of sorts in 2007, after the release of Partner (co-starring Salman Khan, who had been instrumental in getting him the role). He was pilloried in the press for the combination of continuing to act in films while being generally absent from parliament, and inaccessible to his constituents. On 20 January 2008, Govinda decided to leave politics and concentrate on his Bollywood acting career.
Govinda's father, Arun Ahuja, was an actor during the 1940s; his mother, Nirmala Ahuja, was an actress and singer. His brother, Kirti Kumar, is an actor, producer and director. His sister, Kaamini Khanna, is a writer, music director and singer. Govinda's maternal uncle, Anand Singh (assistant to director Hrishikesh Mukherjee), introduced him in Tan-Badan. Singh's sister-in-law Sunita fell in love with Govinda at this time, and they were married on 11 March 1987. Their marriage was a secret for four years. They have two children: daughter Tina Ahuja and son Yashvardhan. Tina made her Bollywood debut in the 2015 Second Hand Husband.
Govinda has six nephews and two nieces in the entertainment industry: actors Vinay Anand, Krishna Abhishek, Aryan, Arjun Singh, Ragini Khanna, Amit Khanna, Aarti Singh and director Janmendra Kumar Ahuja. Govinda's brother-in-law, Devendra Sharma, has appeared in several Hindi films (see Govinda family).
Govinda was seriously injured on 5 January 1994 while travelling to a studio for the shooting of Khuddar. The actor's car collided with another car, and he sustained head injuries. Although he was bleeding profusely, Govinda did not cancel the shoot; after seeing a doctor, he worked until midnight.
His actual phone number was used in the song "What is Mobile Number".
In January 2008, Govinda slapped a struggling actor, Santosh Rai, on the set of Money Hai Toh Honey Hai at Filmistan Studio in Mumbai. On 5 February 2009, Rai filed a complaint against Govinda, accusing him of assault and criminal intimidation, in the Borivali Magistrate Court. In 2013, the court ruled against Rai. In 2014, Rai took his case to the Supreme Court. He said that he had come to Mumbai to become an actor, and felt very humiliated when he was slapped by Govinda. According to Rai, he had contested the case for six years and had spent ₹500,000–600,000 on attorney fees. Since the actor did not apologise, he was more determined to fight him in court. In December 2015, the Supreme Court asked Govinda to apologise to Rai for slapping him and settle the whole matter out of the court immediately in the span of two weeks. The actor said that he "respects" the court's decision, and will decide when he receives it in writing.
In 1999 Govinda and his wife appeared on Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai, hosted by Bollywood actor Suresh Oberoi. Two years later he hosted a game show, Jeeto Chappar Phaad Ke (loosely translated as When the Heavens Open) on Sony TV. Although its first episode had good ratings, it ended after 13 episodes due to poor TRPs.
In 2002 Govinda appeared on SAB TV's Movers & Shakers, a late-night talk show hosted by Shekhar Suman. The following year, he and his wife Sunita appeared on Rendezvous with Simi Garewal.
In 2012 Govinda appeared on the first episode of SAB TV's Movers & Shakers Masala Markey, a late-night talk show hosted by Shekhar Suman. On 15 December 2013, he appeared on the Colors TV show Comedy Nights with Kapil with Pooja Bose to promote his album. Govinda also sang few lines of the title track, "Gori tere naina", on the show (which was appreciated by legendary Bollywood singer Lata Mangeshkar).
In 2014 Govinda appeared on Star Plus' Mad In India, dancing to some of his hits with Karisma Kapoor. The following year he replaced Mithun Chakraborty as a judge on Zee TV's dance-based reality show, Dance India Dance Super Mom Season 2. The show received the highest TRP for any season opener of a reality show.
In 1999, Govinda was voted the world's tenth-greatest star of stage or screen in a BBC News Online poll. In July 2016, he was recognised as Actor of the Decade at the India Leadership Conclave in Mumbai.
Govinda has worked with music directors Anand Milind and Anand Raj Anand and playback singer Udit Narayan. Narayan has sung more than 100 songs for Govinda in more than 40 films, the greatest number of films and songs he has sung for a particular actor. Other singers associated with Govinda include Kumar Sanu, Vinod Rathod, Abhijeet Bhattacharya and Sonu Nigam.
His first album, Govinda, was released in 1998. In November 2013 Govinda released his second album, Gori Tere Naina, with actress Pooja Bose.