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Veeru Devgan was a great asset to film and director: Rohit Shetty pays homage to late action choreographer

In an engaging conversation, filmmaker Rohit Shetty shared his experiences of working with late action choreographer Veeru Devgan and spoke about what draws him to action films.

Our Correspondent

As part of the 10th Jagran Film Festival in New Delhi, filmmaker Rohit Shetty was in conversation with film critic Rajeev Masand, to pay homage to action director Veeru Devgan as part of a wider acknowledgement of the labour of technicians in cinema.

The filmmaker was the apt choice to speak at the occasion as he started his career with Devgan and at the age of 16, did his first stunt under his direction. Shetty also worked with the stunt choreographer on Ajay Devgn‘s debut film Phool Aur Kaante (1991). Incidentally, it was with this film that action direction became recognised and the award for Best Action was instituted. 

Rohit Shetty in conversation with Rajeev Masand at the festival

Sharing his experiences of working with the late action choreographer, Shetty said, “Veeru Devgan was a great asset to the film and to the director,” describing how Devgan would give invaluable inputs pertaining to various aspects of the film, including the story. He reminisced about some of the best known action sequences from Devgan’s films pointing out that there were times when foreign technicians refused to choreograph certain stunts but Devgan stepped in and did them with a certain flair. Shetty also said given his long association with Devgan, his biggest learning from the stalwart was to do one’s work with sincerity. “If you are not honest with your work, your work will not be honest with you. Always be honest with your work. That’s my biggest learning from him [Devgan],” said Shetty.

Talking about what drew him to action films, Shetty shared his background of being trained in action stunts in his family, saying that his mother was a stunt artist in addition to his father MB Shetty, or Shetty, as everyone knew him; being a stuntman, action choreographer and actor, so action effectively runs in his blood!

But the filmmaker emphasised on the need to exercise extreme caution while performing stunts and drew attention to the ways in which stunts were performed in the early days, with very little safety measures in place. “People would say- Yeh daring wala admi hai [This fellow is quite fearless]. He will do it,” he said, and there was not much done to ensure the safety of people. However, of course, in contemporary times the situation is very different and safety is the most important thing.

The filmmaker also said that his biggest reward was the reaction of the audience, especially that of children who get very excited on seeing some of the stunts in his films. He said, “At the end of the day, we want the appreciation of the audience. That gives you a high. That experience is something else.”

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Jagran Film Festival