Watching Govinda Naam Mera feels like watching a video played backwards. Writer-director Shashank Khaitan started with the outcome he wanted, then engineered his story in reverse to achieve that end amidst a series of shocking revelations. But when you play the story forward, you find that the biggest reveals of all are an inscrutable plot and characters that never engender sympathy.
The title character is played by Vicky Kaushal, who projects far more charisma than the movie deserves. Govinda is a wannabe choreographer and background dancer living in large home bequeathed to him by his father — who ditched his first wife and son to marry Govinda’s mom, Asha (Renuka Shahane). Govinda is married to Gauri (Bhumi Pednekar), a woman who hates him as much as he hates her. His dance partner Suku (Kiara Advani) is also his mistress.
Several axes hang over Govinda’s head, though there’s no timeline as to when any of them will fall. Suku wants Govinda to divorce Gauri, but Gauri won’t agree until he repays her dowry money. Govinda owes money to a cop from whom he illegally bought a gun, for some reason. And Govinda’s stepbrother Vishnu is about to win a lawsuit that will force Govinda to relinquish rights to his house, leaving him homeless and penniless. Then Govinda gets involved with a drug dealer, further complicating matters.
As the story proceeds, characters act in ways that suit neither their personalities nor the situation. Just as the audience reaches a maximum level of confusion, a card appears on screen reading something like “3 Days Earlier.” This happens over and over again — as though the point of the story structure is to trick the audience.
Because we don’t see the events in sequence, there is no tension or ambiguity about the outcome. We only ever learn the truth of characters plans after they’ve succeeded (or not). It also means we don’t get to see relationships between the characters develop. We only get the “ta-da!” reveal that people were working together all along, but not how such cooperation changed their relationship.
The worst example of a story element that exists solely for the reveal is Govinda’s mom. The audience learns early in the film that she’s not really partially paralyzed and in need of a wheelchair, but is faking it all to garner sympathy. Yet she’s been doing it for fifteen years! There’s no story reason for her to perform this long con (and make her own life more difficult), except to shock other characters when she eventually reveals the truth.
One of the selling points of Govinda Naam Mera is the chance to watch Kaushal and Advani dance together. Their performances in that regard do not disappoint. But save yourself a bunch of time and trouble and just watch this YouTube playlist of songs from the movie.