The Ahuja household is in celebration mode this Diwali, what with Govinda getting into his best shape ever and the launch of their home production, Govinda Entertainment No 1. Life is sweet, and it shows when Govinda and Sunita pose exclusively for HT Café for their first ever photo shoot together.
“Diwali is a fun time,” says Govinda who, by his own admission, has never missed a single Diwali at home. “We have the traditional Laxmi Puja in the evening and after that, the whole family gathers at our home and we light sparklers, burst crackers and then feast on the delicious spread prepared by Sunita — especially her to-die-for mutton masala. And then the fun begins when the cards are brought out and we all sit down to play through the night.”
The Ahujas have always celebrated Diwali this way — even before Govinda and Sunita were married. “This is a tradition that has continued right from our courtship days,” says Sunita. “When we were dating, we used to meet at my jijaji’s (brother-in-law Anand Singh) house, and during Diwali, I would cook mutton for Chi Chi (as Govinda is fondly called) and we would all play rummy. So in a way, our way of celebrating Diwali hasn’t changed much. After Chi Chi became a star, the celebrations may have got more elaborate, but the essence is the same.”
One part of this tradition that has grown more opulent is Govinda’s Diwali gift to Sunita. “When we were dating, Chi Chi didn’t have much money, but every single day he would give me a Dairy Milk chocolate,” says Sunita. “And then, when he got his first ad shoot — it was for a watch company, I think, and it happened during Diwali — he bought me a simple gold set with the money he earned.” At that time, the gold set cost Govinda Rs 3,500.
“It was a fortune for me at that time, but seeing her face light up was worth every penny,” says the actor. “Soon after, I signed Ilzaam, and once I became a star, gifting jewellery became that much easier.” To commemorate that first big gift, Sunita gets a gold set from Govinda every year. “In fact, the sari that I am wearing right now is also a present from him,” she says with a smile. “But his best gift to me in recent times would definitely be the bungalow he gave me in Darjeeling last Diwali.”
Summing up their life together over 25 years of marriage, Govinda says,“I may not have been a perfect husband, but I have tried to be a good one.”