Neeraj Vora, the man who made us laugh on screen and off it too, is no more. Vora, who came into his own as the writer of Ram Gopal Varma’s Rangeela & Daud and also made a big impact playing comic roles in films like Akele Hum Akele Tum, Daud, Satya and Welcome Back, besides directing Phir Hera Pheri, passed away early morning on Thursday, December 14.
Producer Firoz Nadiadwala, who had been looking after the ailing Vora for more than a year, informed this writer of Vora’s demise, “He passed away at 4 am on Thursday. I’ve lost the battle to save my brother and friend from death. His health had improved so much. But it deteriorated suddenly on Friday. He had to be out into hospital. But it was no use. We lost him.”
For the past one year, Firoz had been looking after all the medical expenses of comatose filmmaker Neeraj Vora who fell ill and was given up for almost-dead by the doctors until Firoz stepped in.
Since that fateful day, Neeraj Vora occupied a special room in Firoz’s bungalow where the ailing writer-director was attended by a fleet of medical experts, nurses, dieticians and well-wishers.
Reluctant to talk about his astonishingly noble deed, Firoz says, “It was one year on 19 October since I got Neeraj to my home in Mumbai from AIIMS in Delhi where the doctors had declared he would be dead in a few hours. Quite frankly, I don’t know what powers made me do what I did. I couldn’t leave him to die. He had nobody to look after him. Neeraj did have a brother. But he was financially incapable of shouldering the responsibility. I had known Neeraj for 12 years. We’ve worked together in several films and we’ve shared a close bonding. How could I leave him there to die? How would I’ve lived with myself if I had been so callous?”
Firoz still recalls that fateful day when he decided to step in and save his friend’s life. “As I said the doctors at AIMS had given up on him. I don’t know what got into me. I immediately hired an air ambulance to bring Neeraj from Delhi to Mumbai. I have to confess my heart was in my mouth. If Neeraj had passed away during that journey from Delhi to Mumbai, or even after landing I’d have been in serious legal and moral trouble. Luckily God was on my side. He willed that Neeraj live and I be the tool to save his life. I sincerely believe we are all instruments of God brought to earth to do HIS will.”
Neeraj was slowly recovering under Firoz’s care. “I had set aside a room in my house for him. That was his home for the past year. The room has pictures of his parents. His father, a classical musician, used to play an instrument called the Veena. We had that music playing in his room. We had the Hanuman Chalisa recited for him…All that was familiar to Neeraj was there for him. Plus there were four attendants—two each for the day and night shifts—to look after him round the clock, a dietician, neuro-surgeons, a cook who lives closeby and cooks all the special food that Neeraj has to be fed through his stomach….Under all this care, Neeraj was slowly recovering. And now, he is gone.”
Firoz feels all his efforts to save his friend has gone to waste. “I lost Neeraj. I was so sure he would recover fully. But God willed otherwise. We are now giving a proper send-off with pooja and rituals. The cremation is at the Santacruz cremation at 4pm today.”