There was much more to Veeru Devgan than being Ajay Devgn’s father and Kajol’s father-in-law. He did to action direction in Bollywood what Saroj Khan did to choreography. Because of Veeru Devgan action direction became known as an art form.
Sham Kaushal who is seen as the true inheritor of Veeru Devgan’s action mantle breaks down and says, “I am in Cochin shooting. I heard the news here and I wept like a baby. He was an Action Director ahead of his time and a human being par excellence. He ruled the action films from mid-seventies to nineties. On a personal front I owe everything to him as I became a Stuntman with his blessings and signed my application form in August, 1980 and became a stuntman. He made me a part of his team. My first day’s shoot as stuntman, as stunt double and my first outdoor shoot was under him. He fed me at his house when I did not have anything to eat. I will always be indebted to him. One of the best human beings I have come across in my life.”
During the two decades when he was active he composed some of the most audacious and daring action pieces for our leading men,
Says Shatrughan Sinha, “He was the greatest action director. I worked with him in some of my biggest hits like Kranti and Dostana. In Kranti he even played a role. He made all of us look larger than life. The fights looked real when Veeruji composed them. Just like every heroine wanted Lata Mangeshkar to sing for her, and Saroj Khan to choreograph for her, every hero of my generation wanted Veeruji’s fights to look heroic.”
Veeru Devgan did the maximum number of films with Amitabh Bachchan. Devgan started his career as an action director with Amitabh Bachchan in Desh Premee. They proceeded to collaborate in several films including Lal Badshah, Shahenshah, Aaakhri Raasta, Inquilaab, Khoon Pasina, Do Aur Do Paanch, among others.
The Bachchans were very close friends of the Devgans. On Veeru Devgan’s death, Mr Bachchan could only respond with abject grief, “Right now I am unable to say anything. He was a friend and a colleague.”
In 1999 when Veeru Devgan turned director, Amitabh Bachchan did an extended cameo in the film.
“I am honoured that I was part of his directorial venture,” says the Big B.
Rakesh Roshan for whom Veeru Devgan composed stunts regularly is overwhelmed with grief. “Very sad to hear about Veeru a very dear friend from the days when I was a leading and he used to be my body double for stunts. When I turned producer-director with Khudgarz, he composed the fights and was with me since then. We had a great understanding and in a way we were best friends. He was a person full of love and a great technician. My condolences to the family.”
Boney Kapoor has the last word on Veeru Devgan. “He was a fighter, a stunt man and action director the master of all things rugged. Yet he had the softest heart.”