Govinda Naam Mera released today. However, it belongs in the 1990s and 2000s — in the era of Saajan Chale Sasural (1996), Masti (2004), No Entry (2005), and Sandwich (2006). But that argument probably falls flat on the face of movies like Thank You, Kis Kisko Pyaar Karoon, and Pati Patni Aur Woh recovering their budgets at the box office as late as 2011, 2015, and 2019, respectively. The poster of Govinda Naam Mera had indicated that its story was going to be yet another misogynistic iteration of a married man juggling multiple heterosexual relationships. But the trailer that followed hinted at the female characters having greater agency than the aforementioned movies. In hindsight, it was misleading.
Govinda Naam Mera rehashes the trope of the man whose marital vows conveniently grant him immunity against the consequences of his actions, even though he may have consistently and deliberately failed to honor them until the time he needed to use them to his advantage. Women, however, aren’t extended the same exemptions.
The titular character, Govinda (played by Vicky Kaushal), had been cheating on his wife, Gauri (played by Bhumi Pednekar), for over three years. In a twist that suggested she wasn’t a helpless homemaker longing for her philandering husband’s affections, it seemed like Gauri was carrying on with an affair of her own. Not to glorify cheating, but given how rarely Bollywood portrays women in non-negative characters breaking their marital vows, this seemed like a progressive narrative. Moreover, since Govinda and Gauri were frank about each other’s extra-marital affairs, perhaps, their liaisons wouldn’t even qualify as adultery.
Except, soon enough, we learn that it was all an elaborate lie — at least, in part. Govinda was indeed cheating on Gauri with Suku (played by Kiara Advani). But Gauri wasn’t — in fact, despite her husband’s disloyalty, she loved him and had secretly appointed him as a nominee on her insurance policy. She was simply pretending to have an affair, so she didn’t feel like a victim à la Daphne (played by Meghann Fahy) from The White Lotus. The moment Govinda finds out Suku isn’t really in love with him, Gauri is happy to take him back.