By Akanksha Gupta Last Updated:
Born in Hong Kong, Neelam Kothari was holidaying in Mumbai when she was reportedly approached for her debut film, Jawaani. But it was Neelam’s 1986 film, Ilzaam opposite Govinda that left a mark in the audience’s hearts for their sizzling chemistry and soon, fans had started rooting for them.
While on the professional front, Neelam and Govinda had worked in over 14 films together, in their personal lives, he had fallen head-over-heels in love with her. Govinda was smitten by Neelam the moment he had seen her for the first time and in a Stardust interview, he had professed his undying endearment for the actress to be pure love and not lust!
The Hero No. 1 of Bollywood, Govinda had created his niche in the industry with his effortless excellence in comedy and is often regarded as the pioneer behind the ‘comic hero’ trend. When Govinda had made his debut in the industry with Ilzaam, Neelam was just one film old and it was her second movie. Soon, the friendship between the co-stars had blossomed into one-sided love. Though Govinda was smitten by Neelam’s beauty when he had first seen her, he didn’t neglect the fact that they were complete opposites.
While Neelam was a foreign return, Govinda was a desi munda. Govinda and Neelam were a successful on-screen couple until the early 90s. But their love had never taken off as Govinda was already committed to his ladylove, Sunita. Soon, Govinda and Neelam’s fling became a piece of history.
Govinda had tied the knot with Sunita in an intimate temple wedding ceremony, but for a while, he did not disclose the news in media because he had felt that it might adversely affect his career. In a Stardust interview, Govinda had revealed why he didn’t tell Neelam Kothari about his marriage and was quoted as saying,
“Neither did Neelam know about it. She got to know only after a year. I probably did not tell her because I did not want to break this successful screen pair. And to be honest, to a certain extent, I did exploit my personal relationship with Neelam for professional ends. I played dirty with her. I should have told her that I was married.”
Govinda was so smitten by Neelam Kothari that he used to talk about her to Sunita and even compare them both. Govinda had also asked his wife, Sunita to change herself and become like Neelam. Elaborating on the same, Govinda had said,
“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.”
Throwing some light on Govinda and Sunita’s love story, when he was a struggling actor in the mid-1980s, he would frequently visit his maternal uncle, the filmmaker, Anand Singh. And it was during one of his visits to his residence when he had met his uncle’s sister-in-law, Sunita. Born to a Punjabi father and Nepali mother, Sunita was nearly same age as Govinda and it was his mother, who was so supportive of their relationship that she had even told him to tie the knot with Sunita when the time felt right.
For over three years, Govinda and Sunita dated each other and would communicate through letters. Unlike Govinda’s mother, Sunita’s mother didn’t support their relationship because of the fact that he was an actor. On March 11, 1987, Sunita and Govinda had tied the knot in a secret wedding ceremony. A year later, after the birth of their daughter, Tina Ahuja, Govinda and Sunita had announced their wedding.
On the other hand, Neelam Kothari had tied the knot with the UK-based Indian businessman, Rishi Sethia in 2000 but a few years later, due to ‘irreconcilable differences, they had parted ways. Nine years later in 2009, Neelam had met her soulmate, Samir Soni and director-producer, Ekta Kapoor played Cupid between them. Before tying the knot in 2011, Samir and Neelam had made sure to sort out any discord or differences about any past issues. Samir and Neelam are leading a blissful life together with their daughter, Ahana, whom they had adopted in 2013.
We wish many years of happiness and togetherness to Neelam and Govinda in their respective lives!