Anil Kapoor remembers Veeru Devgan: His innovation was far ahead of VFX
Star and frequent collaborator Anil Kapoor pens a tribute to Bollywood's acclaimed action director
At a time when there were no special effects, no technology, we would all count on Veeru paaji to make our action sequences look thrilling. We have done several movies together, including Hum Paanch (1980), Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja (1993) and Mr India (1987).
The Charlie Chaplin sequence in Mr India became magical because of Veeru ji, Shree [Sridevi] and our cinematographer Baba Azmi. In those days, there was no VFX; just hard-core, live action on camera as imagined by Veeru ji. He had his own innovations and they were far ahead of VFX.
A prime example of this is the train sequence in Roop Ki Rani Choron Ka Raja. Ask anyone about the three best train sequences in Indian cinema and he will name Ganga Jamuna (1961), Sholay (1975) and Roop Ki Rani… The best thing about Veeru ji was that even when he would be explaining a high-octane action stunt, he never made it sound difficult. His briefs would be simple — tu daudega aur usko mukka marega. So, we would feel comfortable while filming the scene. It was only when we saw it on screen that we realised how effective it was.
Shah Rukh Khan pay their respects
He was a very positive and helpful person. I remember while shooting for Hum Paanch, we would keep our production money with him. He was our unofficial banker; such was the trust he commanded.
People in the industry admire Ajay's [Devgn] technical know-how. Truth is, the legacy has been passed down to him by his father. Veeru ji was one of the most respected technicians that Bollywood had.
What I admire most about Veeru ji though is his generosity of heart. I met all the young fighters, whom he had brought into the industry, at his funeral. He enabled them to earn a livelihood and buy houses in the city. So many boys would come from Punjab, get off at CST railway station and head straight to Veeruji or Dharamji [Dharmendra] for jobs. Kitno ka ghar basaya hai Veeruji ne!
As told to Upala KBR
Amitabh Bachchan pay their respects. Pics/Nimesh Dave, Sneha Kharabe
The real action star
Acclaimed action director Veeru Devgan's body of work includes Mr Natwarlal (1979), Kranti (1981), Himmatwala (1983), Shahenshah (1988) and Tridev (1989). Come 1991, he launched son Ajay in Phool Aur Kaante. If Ajay is remembered for the iconic entry scene, the superstar has his father to thank for. Veeru also tried his hand at direction with Hindustan Ki Kasam.
Remembering my mentor
When I first met Veeru sir, he dissuaded me from becoming a stunt master. He asked me to find a good job, knowing that I had done my MA. When I told him that films were my calling, he gave in. Thereon, I was almost like an assistant to him. I have learnt everything about action direction from Veeru sir.
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