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Tuesday 21 January 2020

Veeru Devgan, Bollywood’s most famous action director, no more

Veeru Devgan, after struggling for years to become a successful actor, came to terms with his fate eventually and then trained his son Ajay to fulfil his dream

Mumbai: Veeru Devgan, Bollywood’s famous stunt director and father of Ajay Devgan, died in Mumbai this morning. Veeru Devgan had been admitted to Surya Hospital of Santa Cruz.

The entertainment industry received the news of Veeru’s death with dismay. People are reaching the house of Ajay Devgn and Kajol to express their condolences.

Veeru Devgan was a well-known figure in the industry. He worked as a stunt choreographer in over 80 films in Bollywood. He had been an actor, fight choreographer, director, writer and producer in Hindi films. Veeru directed the 1999 film Hindustan Ki Kasam. As an actor, he worked in Kranti, Saurabh and Sinhasan. The 1992 film Jigar was written by him.

Among the hit films Veeru made were Lal Badshah (1999), Phool and Kaante (1991), Mr India (1987) and Himmatwala (1983).

Veeru Devgan had choreographed his son Ajay’s superhit film Phool and Kaante’s action sequences in which his son’s act of spreading the legs between moving motorcycles had impressed movie-goers of the era.

Veeru began early, struggled a lot

But Veeru had struggled a lot at the beginning of his career. He had such passion for films that he had left home at the age of 14. Born in Amritsar, Punjab, Veeru came to Mumbai and pursued filmmakers tenaciously, going without food and even water for days on end.

Veeru had reached Mumbai with some friends. But as the struggle became harder, the friends returned to Amritsar. Veeru had decided he would establish himself here. He cleaned taxis for a living. He worked also as a carpenter.

In the desire to grab the title role in a film, Veeru Devgan made several rounds of film studios, but he could not get the job. He had come to Mumbai to become an actor, a superstar. He soon realised that he stood no chance in the age of romantic films featuring what is referred to as ‘chocolate boys’ as protagonists.

Veeru Devgan said in an interview, “When I saw my face in the mirror, I realised my shortcomings and accepted my fate. But I vowed to make my first son a ‘hero’.”

Vicarious Veeru

Veeru worked very hard to establish his son. Associated with filmmaking, action direction, etc, from an early age, Veeru taught these skills to his son Ajay when the latter was pretty young. When Ajay went to college, the got the son enrolled in dance classes. He made a gym for Ajay and got a trainer for the son to teach Urdu so that, when the opportunity arrived, Ajay could deal with equal ease with action as well as delivery of his lines. Horse riding followed.

Finally, Veeru added Ajay to his action team. He trained the son in creating sets for shooting. Ajay grew into a capable hand in the art of filming.

Then one day, Veeru told Ajay a director was making Phool and Kaante and that the filmmaker wanted Ajay in the lead role.

Ajay couldn’t believe it. His first reaction was, “Are you crazy? I am just 18 years old and I am enjoying my life.”

Ajay refused the offer and went away. A few months later, he agreed. Ajay became successful right in his first movie. This was a result of his father Veeru Devgan’s single-minded devotion to see his son accomplish what he couldn’t.

Veeru mourned by whole industry

Sunny Deol reached Ajay’s house on getting the news. Trade analyst Taran Adarsh was among the first to share the sad news on Twitter. “Veeru Devgan passed away this morning [27 May 2019]… Father of Ajay Devgn… Veeruji was an accomplished action director… Also directed #HindustanKiKasam, starring son Ajay with Amitabh Bachchan… Funeral will be held today at 6 pm… Heartfelt condolences to Devgn family,” he wrote.

More condolences from known personalities of the industry followed.

The final years

Veeru had stopped going to film parties for a few months. He confined himself to home. He was last seen recently at the screening of his son’s film Total Dhamaal.

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