Veteran actor Govinda was one of the leading stars in the 90s. He is known for his energetic dance moves, impeccable comic timing, and versatile acting skills, which have earned him a large fan base throughout his career. However, more than his films, he has made headlines for his personal life.
Not many know that Sunita Ahuja was not the only love in the veteran actor’s life. Back in the 90s, he was madly in love with his Ilzaam co-star, Neelam Kothari. He had even broken off his engagement with Sunita so he could be with her, but Neelam did not share the same feelings.
During a conversation with Stardust magazine, Govinda said he was “very conscious” of Neelam. “Of the difference in our backgrounds and upbringing. But gradually, we crossed these obstacles, and I started opening up. We became friends. And we had so many films together. We met so often, and the more I got to know her, the more I liked her. She was the kind of woman any man would have lost his heart to. I lost mine,” he added.
He confessed that he could not stop praising Neelam, even in front of Sunita, and wanted Sunita to be like Neelam. “I couldn’t stop praising her. To my friends, to my family. Even to Sunita, to whom I was committed. I would tell Sunita to change herself and become like Neelam. I would tell her to learn from her. I was merciless. Sunita would get irritated. She would tell me, ‘You fell in love with me because of what I am, don’t ever try to change me’. But I was so confused. I didn’t know what to own,” he said.
Govinda recalled that during one of his fights with Sunita, she said something about Neelam, and he “called it quits.” He said, “I asked Sunita to leave me. I broke off my engagement with her. And had Sunita not called me after five days and coaxed me into it again, I would probably have married Neelam.” He added, “I wanted to marry her. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
The Hero No 1 actor insisted that the only reason that he could not leave Sunita was that he had given her his word. “Just because I had fallen in love elsewhere, I couldn’t overlook my commitment towards Sunita. If there was no sense of duty in a man, this would go on,” he said.
Govinda then said that Neelam Kothari was not very keen on marrying him as she was very focused on her career. He added, “She wanted an intelligent, well-to-do, good-looking man as a husband. And I was anything but that. She belonged to the upper strata, and I was a dehati, coming from a lower-middle-class family. We were poles apart in every way. We probably would never have been successful as a married couple. And maybe, Neelam realised that.”
The veteran actor went on to confess that after his wedding, he did not declare he was married. Even Neelam, who was working with him closely at the time, did not know that he was a married man. Govinda said that he tried to “exploit my personal relationship with Neelam for professional ends. I played dirty with her. I should have told her that I was married.”