Mumbai, Dec 14 (IANS) Bollywood's multi-faceted talent Neeraj Vora, an actor, writer and director known for his humorous and happy streak on and off the screen, died here early on Thursday, months after being comatose.
Vora's younger brother Uttank Vora told IANS that he died at 4 a.m. at an Andheri hospital. Vora was 54.
From the hospital, his body was taken to the house of producer Firoz Nadiadwala, who had been looking after him for over a year, and later to the electric crematorium in Santa Cruz here.
For months altogether, a room in Nadiadwala's home Barkat was converted into a fully functional ICU for Vora.
Nadiadwala mourned his demise, saying: I've lost the battle to save my brother and friend from the clutches of death. His health had improved so much. But it deteriorated suddenly on Friday (December 8).
"He had to be shifted to hospital. But it was of no use. We lost him."
Vora's last rites saw Nadiadwala, Rohit Shetty, Abhishek Bachchan, Paresh Rawal, Sushant Singh Rajput, Deepak Tijori, Ashoke Pandit, Sunil Pal, Ashutosh Gowarikar, Meet Bros, Abbas-Mastan, Rajpal Yadav, Darshan Jariwala and other celebrities paying their last respects to Vora, who wrote "Rangeela", directed "Phir Hera Pheri" and acted in "Bol Bachchan" among several other projects.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was saddened by the demise of the Gujarat-born actor, whom he described as "an energetic and creative personality".
"He will be remembered for his films and warm nature," Modi tweeted.
The film fraternity expressed grief over Vora's death and said he was one of the best humorists that Indian cinema had.
Actor Akshay Kumar, who worked with him in "Awara Paagal Deewana", "Deewane Huye Paagal", "Ajnabee", "Hera Pheri" and "Phir Hera Pheri", said he ventured into the comedy genre because of Vora.
"One of the main reasons behind my foray into comedy, saddened to hear about the demise of Neeraj Vora a multi-talented man, writer, director, actor... A mini industry by himself, learnt so much from him. RIP," tweeted Akshay.
Aamir Khan, who was the lead actor of "Rangeela", said: "Neeraj was a close friend, a collaborator, a vibrant force of life. His tragic illness and then demise is a loss not only to those close to him but also to the creative world.
"His sense of humour will be missed sorely. Laughter travelled with him."
Veteran actor Anupam Kher wrote: "Neeraj Vora was one of the most pleasant persons I knew in our film industry. Always smiling. Extremely knowledgeable about theatre and cinema. Deeply saddened by his demise. We have lost a happy and a very talented man."
Filmmaker Rahul Dholakia described him as "one of India's finest humorist screenwriter", while actor Parvin Dabas said he was "one of the most brilliant comic minds in Hindi cinema".
Writer Milap Zaveri said: "You will surely make the heavens laugh."
Vora came to be known in the film industry for the way he tackled humour through his acting, writing and directorial projects.
He was also closely associated with theatre. In fact, "Golmaal: Fun Unlimited", which started the hit comedy franchise, was based on the Gujarati play "Aflatoon" by Mihir Bhuta and Neeraj. They had adapted it from Harsh Shivsharan's original Marathi play "Ghar-Ghar"
Neeraj had an acting stint on television with shows like "Circus" and "Naya Nukkad", while on the film front, he made the audience laugh with roles in "Daud: Fun on the Run", "Hello Brother", "Bol Bachchan" and "Welcome Back".
As a writer, he worked on films like "Rangeela", "Akele Hum Akele Tum", "Josh", "Badshah", "Chori Chori Chupke Chupke", "Awara Paagal Deewana", "Deewane Huye Paagal", "Ajnabee" and "Hera Pheri" and "Phir Hera Pheri".
His directorial projects include "Khiladi 420" and "Phir Hera Pheri". He was to direct "Hera Pheri 3", but uncertainty loomed large over the project after he suffered a stroke in October 2016.