Dec 142017

Actor-writer Neeraj Vora breathed his last this morning after being in a coma for 13 months

Bollywood’s multi-faceted talent, Neeraj Vora, known for penning a few of the most iconic ’90s releases, including Rangeela, Hera Pheri and his directorial debut Khiladi 420, passed away this morning at 54. 

Vora was in coma since the past 13 months after he suffered a heart attack and brain stroke in October 2016. Since March, he was residing at producer Feroz Nadiadwalla’s Juhu residence, where an Intensive Care Unit had been set up for him. While having apparently shown signs of recovery, he reportedly fell ill two days ago, and breathed his last at 4 am at Criti Care hospital in Andheri, Mumbai.

Vora, who is survived by his younger brother Uttank, will be cremated in Juhu, today at 4 pm. Nadiadwalla tells mid-day, “His extended family is coming from Gujarat today at 2 pm. We will decide whether a prayer meeting should be held later.”

Still from Rangeela
Still from Rangeela

Having directed, written and acted in multiple films, Vora had many friends in the industry. His close aide, Suniel Shetty, who worked with him in the first two instalments of the Hera Pheri franchise, says, “I lost a wonderful friend, who was also an amazing human being. He was a talented writer, director and actor. His sense of humour was unmatched. He had the gift of the gab. He was spontaneous and witty and had a knack of creating scenes and situation in the spur of the moment. Whenever we met, he’d greet me with a hug. I will be indebted to him forever because he gave me one of my most memorable films, Hera Pheri.” That Vora was among the most revered personalities is evident, says Shetty, given the fact that his friend, Nadiadwalla, took care of him. “Knowing his personality, Neeraj wouldn’t have like to continue being in this state.”

Vora with cast on the set of Hera Pheri
Vora with cast on the set of Hera Pheri

The iconic ’90s release, Rangeela, was among the most celebrated works of Vora. Leading lady Urmila Matondkar says, “Neeraj was a livewire. It’s sad that, of the amount he was capable of delivering, little was translated on screen. I cannot express how important he was in the crafting of the characters, Munna and Mini, in Rangeela. His knowledge and understanding of human emotions, characters and actors was spectacular.” She chronicles an incident during the filming of the 1997 crime comedy, Daud with Vora. “We were executing a comical sequence in Daud. It was a walk out of the jungle. We couldn’t wrap it up, because he was so good that we’d be rolling on the floor, laughing. He even stole our thunder with his expressions in the song that followed.”

Filmmaker Vipul Shah says Vora’s wit was unparalleled. “He was a genius who never got his due. I am yet to meet a man with better humour. When I was in college, I acted in the plays that he directed. This is a personal loss. Few could see his prowess. I did and I will miss him.”

Sajid Sami of director duo Sajid Farhad remembers Vora’s acting prowess. “He had acted in Bol Bachchan and was brilliant. We wanted an actor who could stand in front of Ajay Devgn, and still have a good comic timing. Because he was a writer, he understood scenes well.”

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