Writer, actor, director and musician Neeraj Vora has died at the age of 54 at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi. Vora had a stroke in October and had been in a coma since. He was working on Hera Pheri 3 at the time of his illness.
Born on January 22, 1963, in Bhuj in Gujarat, Vora belonged to a family of musicians. His father, Vinayak Rai Vora, was a classical musician and the inventor of the taar-shehnai musical instrument. His brother, Uttank Vora, is a music composer.
Growing up in a house that was frequently visited by musicians and artists from Gujarati theatre, Vora developed an interest in acting. He pursued his dream and won intercollegiate awards for his plays. In 1985, Vora got his first film role in Ketan Mehta’s Holi. Vora played Raghunath, a college student who along with his friends, including Ashutosh Gowariker (as Ranjeet) and Aamir Khan (as Madan) protest against college authorities for not giving them a holiday on the occasion of Holi.
Vora had to wait another four years for his next role in Saeed Mirza’s Salim Langde Pe Mat Ro (1989). Meanwhile, he began acting in television serials such as Idiot (1991) and Naya Nukkad (1993).
Ram Gopal Verma gave Vora his big break by recruiting him to share dialogue-writing duties with Sanjay Chhel for Rangeela (1995). Vora wrote some memorable monologues for the street ruffian character Munna (Aamir Khan). Vora also played a small role, stepping in for an absconding actor. As an unnamed and drunk film producer trying to impress Mili (Urmila Matondkar) at a film party, Vora displayed an intuitive comic timing that landed him substantial parts in Virasat (1997), Daud (1997), Satya (1998) and Mann (1999).
After Rangeela became a hit, Vora wrote several films, including Hera Pheri (2000), Josh (2000) and Golmaal (2006). He expanded his skills to direction with Khiladi 420 (2000), Phir Hera Pheri (2006), Shortkut –The Con Is On (2009) and Familywala (2014).
Vora excelled in writing comedy as well as depicting funny men, such as the lecherous music director Romu Saagar in Satya and the dim-witted village head Chako in Daud.
Vora’s multifarious resume included music composition. In 1993, he teamed up with his brother Uttank Vora as the musical duo Neeraj-Vora to compose the soundtrack for Ashutosh Gowariker’s debutant feature Pehla Nasha.
Vora’s last acting role was in Welcome Back (2015). The title is an apt description of Vora’s films, where he won’t be forgotten.