'I had known Neeraj for 12 years. We worked together in several films and shared a close bond.'
'How could I leave him to die?'
Subhash K Jha reports.
IMAGE: Neeraj Vora, who passed away in Mumbai on Thursday, December 14, right, with director Ketan Mehta. Photograph: Pradeep Bandekar
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 and Daud, made a big impact playing comic roles in Akele Hum Akele Tum, Daud, Satya and Welcome Back before directing Phir Hera Pheri -- passed away in Mumbai early on Thursday, December 14.
Producer Firoz Nadiadwala, who had been looking after the ailing Vora for more than a year, informed me about 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 last Friday. He had to be hospitalised. But it was no use. We lost him."
For the past year, Firoz had been looking after the comatose filmmaker's medical expenses. Vora was given up for almost dead by doctors until Firoz stepped in.
Vora occupied a special room in Firoz's bungalow where he was attended by doctors, nurses and other medical experts.
Reluctant to talk about his astonishing noble deed, Firoz recalls, "On October 19, 2016 I got Neeraj to my home in Mumbai from AIIMS in Delhi where the doctors 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," Firoz explained.
"I had known Neeraj for 12 years. We worked together in several films and shared a close bond. How could I leave him to die? How would I've lived with myself if I had been so callous?" Firoz asked.
"The doctors at AIIMS had given up on him. 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 or even after landing I'd have been in serious legal and moral trouble," the filmmaker remembered.
"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."
IMAGE: Producer Firoz Nadiadwala, left, with his father A G Nadiadwala at the Dadasaheb Phalke Academy Awards 2013 in Mumbai.
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 the veena. We had that music playing in his room. We had the Hanuman Chalisa recited for him," Firoz added.
"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-surgeon, a cook who lives close by and cooks all the special food Neeraj has to be fed," Firoz said.
"Under all this care, Neeraj was slowly recovering. And now, he is gone."