Veteran film writer and director Govind Moonis is known for his work in the Hindi and Bhojpuri film industry. He was associated with cinema for approximately six decades. A short story writer, he started off in films assisting filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak, followed by Satyen Bose in Bombay. He established himself as a dialogue writer for successful films such as Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi (1958), Dosti (1964) and Raat Aur Din (1967). He went on to make his mark as a successful director with Nadiya Ke Paar (1982), Babul (1986) and Bandhan Baahon Ka (1988). He also received the Filmfare Award for Best Dialogue for Dosti. His work in television includes writing the screenplay of the teleseries Don, Do Akele and Ramleela.
Born in Pasakhera village, Unnao, in Uttar Pradesh to Pandit Shriram Dwivedi, Govind Moonis completed his education in Kanpur. As a writer, he first tasted success in 1947 when his short story was published in the print publication Dainik Veerbhara. He went on to pen several short stories and translations from Bengali publications, which were published in well-known newspapers and publications. His tryst with films began when, in 1952, he met Bengali director Ritwik Ghatak and assisted him in his first film Bedeni. Unfortunately, the film could not be completed. Moonis went on to collaborate with Ghatak again, penning the lyrics of his songs for the film Nagarik which ultimately released in 1977. It was the first feature-length film directed by the legendary filmmaker Ghatak.
Shifting to Bombay in 1953, Govind went on to assist film director Satyen Bose. He collaborated with Bose in almost all of his directorials. In 1958, he worked as a dialogue writer in Bose’s Chalti Ka Naam Gaadi, the hit musical comedy revolving around a middle-aged man who resents women due to certain misunderstandings, and forbids his younger brothers to marry. Moonis went on to pen the dialogue and screenplay for the Satyen Bose film Dosti (1964), and later got together with Bose again to assist him as a dialogue writer for Aasra (1966). He went on to write the dialogues for Satyen Bose’s Raat Aur Din starring Nargis and Pradeep Kumar. A psychological thriller, lead actress Nargis won the distinguished National Film Award for Best Actress for her role as Varuna, a married woman who has dissociative identity disorder. The film won critical acclaim for its story and Nargis' performance as Varuna, developing a cult following.
In 1969, Govind assisted Satyen as a lyricist for the latter’s directorial Aansoo Ban Gaye Phool (1969). He also penned the dialogues for Bose’s Jeevan Mrityu (1971).
Apart from writing dialogues for several films, Govind Moonis also explored direction. In 1954, he worked as assistant director for Satyen Bose on Jagriti. Based on the 1949 Bengali film Paribartan that Bose had also directed, the film revolves around a rich kid who is sent to boarding school by his grandfather to learn some values. The film won the Filmfare Award for Best Film at the 3rd Filmfare Awards in 1956. Jagriti is still considered one of Indian cinema’s best children-centric films.
In 1982, Moonis directed Rajshri Productions’ Nadiya Ke Paar, based on the first half of the Hindi novel Kohbar Ki Shart by Keshav Prasad Mishra. Set in Jaunpur, Uttar Pradesh, the film featured an ensemble cast comprising Sachin, Sadhana Singh, Inder Thakur, Mitali, Savita Bajaj, Sheela David, Leela Mishra and Soni Rathod. It was recorded a super hit at the box office. The film was later remade by Rajshri Productions as Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! (1994). He had directed a Bhojpuri film called Mitwa (1966) before this.
Govind Moonis went on to direct the Rajshri film titled Rimjhim Geeton Ki (1986) starring Madhuri Dixit, Dharmendra and Mithun Chakraborty. Moonis also directed Babul (1986), the plot of which revolves around two lovers Nandini and Ashok, who are unable to get married as Ashok’s father has fixed his marriage elsewhere. Moonis’ next directorial was Bandhan Baahon Ka (1988), starring Brahmachari, Rita Katyal and Raj Kiran.
Foraying into television, Govind Moonis started off with penning the screenplay for a television series titled Don which was aired on Doordarshan. He went on to write the screenplay for Zee TV’s show Do Akele and for Star TV’s Ramleela. His last film as dialogue writer was Dil Churaya Aapne (unreleased), while the last film he directed is the Bhojpuri film Ganga Jaisan Pawan Piritiya Hamar (2004) for producer Rajkumar Shahabadi’s RKS Films.
Moonis was also associated with social and cultural activities, as well as theatre, and was one of the founder members of Pragati – a social and cultural organization, founded in 1962.
Govind Moonis passed away on 5 May, 2010.