Neeraj Vora, the critically acclaimed actor-director who has worked with several biggies in Bollywood, passed away at 4 am on Thursday at Criti Care Andheri, Mumbai.
He was battling coma since he suffered a heart attack followed by a brain stroke in October 2016.
The actor was in Delhi with close friend and actor Paresh Rawal's driver when he suffered a heart attack. He was immediately taken to a nearby hospital and was later shifted to All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS).
In January, it was reported that his condition was critical, but the actor-director's condition had slightly improved. He was recuperating at filmmaker Firoz Nadiadwala's house in Mumbai. Nadiadwala had converted one of his rooms into a fully-functional Intensive Care Unit (ICU) for his dear friend Neeraj.
Here are a few lesser-known facts about actor-director Neeraj Vora.
Neeraj was close to his father, who was a prolific tar shehnai player. His father passed away in 2005 and a year before that his wife passed away. He had no children and his only family was his mother, Premila Ben, who died in 2014.
Neeraj's entry in theatre and film industry
He started as a writer in Gujarati plays and got his first offer as an actor in Ketan Mehta's coming-of-age-drama Holi which featured Aamir Khan, Ashutosh Gowariker, Om Puri, Shreeram Lagoo, Deepti Naval and Naseeruddin Shah. He shot to fame with TV show Choti Badi Baatein and Circus.
He wrote co-wrote the dialogues of Aamir Khan's film Rangeela and when a supporting actor backed out, he stepped in to play the role. After that, he went on to work in several movies. He directed Khiladi 420 and Phir Hera Pheri, a sequel to the classic comedy-drama Hera Pheri.
His movies and actors he worked with
His acting career took off after Rangeela and he went on to work with Shah Rukh Khan, Anil Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgn, Abhishek Bachchan and Salman Khan among others.
His most memorable films include Mann, Virasat, Satya, Baadshah, Akele Hum Akele Tum, Rangeela, Pukar, Company, Dhadkan, Daud: Fun on the Run, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Hello Brother and Pukar.
What is the update on this next directorial Hera Pheri 3?
Neeraj was supposed to direct the third installment in the Hera Pheri series, but now the project has been put on hold. There were reports in March that Ahmed Khan will step into Neeraj's shoes to direct Hera Pheri 3 starring Akshay, Suniel Shetty and Paresh Rawal.
However, in May, Suniel Shetty said that the project will go on floors once Neeraj recovers from his condition. "I believe he is doing better now. Once he is fit, we will roll out the film," Shetty told Mid-Day.
Filmmaker Nadiadwala said that his condition is improving and is responding well to the treatment. "Over the last five months, his condition has improved slightly, he can blink to communicate and is in a semi-conscious state. He's been responding to audio therapy, particularly when we play his father's (Pandit Vinayak Rai Nanalal Vora) music," Nadiadwala told Mumbai Mirror in April.
He has yet to recover his speech but there are no infections or bed sores and the doctors have assured us that his life is out of danger," he added.