January 22, 2023, marked the 60th birth anniversary of Neeraj Vora. He was one of the most accomplished writers of Bollywood who had written memorable films Hera Pheri (2000), Awara Paagal Deewana (2002), Hungama (2003), Garam Masala (2005), Deewane Huye Paagal (2005), Chup Chup Ke (2006), Golmaal (2006), Bhool Bhulaiyaa (2007) etc. He also wrote as well as directed Phir Hera Pheri (2006), which is nothing short of a cult film today. And he was also a fine actor. Neeraj Vora passed away on December 14, 2017. He was in a coma for 13 months after suffering from a massive heart attack and brain stroke.
EXCLUSIVE: Paresh Rawal remembers Neeraj Vora on his 60th birth anniversary; reveals that he was in his Delhi residence when he suffered a stroke: “Immediately, he was shifted to AIIMS with the help of PMO and Prime Minister Narendra Modi”
On his 60th birth anniversary, Paresh Rawal exclusively spoke to Bollywood Hungama about Neeraj Vora. The veteran actor had an association of 35 years with him. Paresh Rawal said, “I was in NM College while He was in Mithibai. But we knew each other as we used to do theatre and we had the same campus. We also had the same circle of people like directors, writers etc with whom we worked. Then I directed a play in 1984, named Aatank, in which he had assisted. He also worked with me in 1987 in the play, Maharathi.”
Paresh Rawal continued, “Since the very beginning, I knew that he has a very bright and wacky sense of humour. He was also innovative and his take on things was always different from the others. Even His father Vinayak bhai’s (Pandit Vinayak Rai Vora) humour was unique. And that is what Neeraj was gifted with. The same goes for his younger brother Uttank. They are blessed with such a novel sense of humour.” He also added, “With Neeraj, there was never a dull moment as he was always lively. His persona was very throbbing.”
Paresh Rawal’s iconic films like Hera Pheri, Awara Paagal Deewana, Hungama, Garam Masala, Deewane Huye Paagal, Chup Chup Ke, Golmaal etc were all penned by Neeraj. This means that Neeraj was also the brains behind Paresh’s much-loved character Baburao Ganpatrao Apte in Hera Pheri. When asked if Paresh Rawal agrees that Neeraj Vora played a major role in his popularity, he instantly replied, “Yes, I absolutely do.”
Paresh Rawal then revealed that Neeraj Vora was in his residence when he suffered a stroke in 2016. He revealed, “He got a brain stroke when he was at my house in Delhi, which was made available to me since I was an MP (Member of Parliament). I was in London at that time. My theatre friends used to come and visit my Delhi house whenever they wished. I used to be happy to host my friends, especially the ones from the theatre, in that house. So that’s where he was when got a stroke. Immediately, he was shifted to AIIMS with the help of PMO and Narendra bhai (Prime Minister Narendra Modi). We had made it clear that inko Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital mein nahin, AIIMS mein hi rakhenge. The top doctors attended to him. For 4-5 months, he was admitted at AIIMS and after that, he was shifted to Firoz bhai’s place.”
For the next 13 months, producer Firoz Nadiadwala graciously attended to Neeraj Vora in his bungalow in Mumbai. The filmmaker also had a deep bond with him and was the one who produced films like Hera Pheri, Awara Paagal Deewana, Deewane Huye Paagal and Phir Hera Pheri.
Paresh Rawal, at this point, mentioned, “We often feel our country is divided into religious lines. But in Firoz bhai’s bungalow, havan, pooja etc. was done for Neeraj’s betterment. An ICU was erected in one of the rooms. He was taken care of as a family member. When he passed away, the pooja and all other religious ceremonies were done in a proper manner after which he was cremated. Neeraj was indeed blessed as he had very dear friends.”
Neeraj Vora’s demise dealt a huge blow to the industry. Many movie watchers have remarked that after his passing, our writers have not been able to do justice to the films in the comedy genre. Simply put, our comedy films are not that funny anymore, except for some exceptions.
Paresh Rawal disagreed, “I do not agree and will not make such a blanket statement. We have Raaj Shaandilyaa. He is extremely prolific and has a sharp sense of humour. Also, times are different and our films and shows deal with guns, drugs, gore, blood etc. The innocence from the comedy is already gone. There are either double meaning or stupid jokes in our movies. There’s no healthy humour in films now.”
However, all is not lost as the upcoming film, Hera Pheri 3, has a Neeraj Vora connection. When asked if the much-awaited film boasts of the same script which he had penned several years ago, the National Award-winning actor revealed, “Not exactly. Of course, some of the stuff he wrote will be retained. Those scenes are hilarious. You’ll laugh your guts out!”
Also Read:EXCLUSIVE: Deepak Tijori remembers Neeraj Vora on his 60th birth anniversary; reveals that Pehla Nasha’s STAR-STUDDED scene, featuring Shah Rukh, Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan was his creation
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