Suniel Shetty, Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar in Phir Hera Pheri
Sonil Dedhia (MID-DAY; May 18, 2017)

Plans to roll out the third instalment of cult comedy hit 'Hera Pheri' (2000) may not have worked out so far, but actor Suniel Shetty, who played Shyam in part 1 and 2, is fairly optimistic about the film's prospects. He says the original unit is waiting for writer Neeraj Vora to back on his feet; he suffered a massive stroke last October and has been bed-ridden since.

In an interview with mid-day, Suniel says, "Hera Pheri is a huge franchise, one of the first few films to have had a successful sequel (Phir Hera Pheri, 2006). All the characters — Raju (Akshay Kumar), Shyam (Suniel) and Babu bhai (Paresh Rawal) — have stayed with the audience and there is a brand recall. As co-stars too, we get along like a house on fire. We must make it [part 3] for fans."

He intends to call on Neeraj to check on his pace of recovery. "I believe he is doing better now. Once he is fit, we will roll out the film." The 55-year-old actor is currently juggling his business venture and film projects.

"This is like my second innings. I recently started a company F The Couch with casting director Mukesh Chabbra; it's a one-stop platform for Bollywood aspirants. I have also done a film, Reload (starring Sidharth Malhotra and Jacqueline Fernandez) in which I play a grey character. I can't talk much about it, but it's a perfect comeback film. I am playing my age and had a lot of fun," he adds.

According to reports, Neeraj was working on the third instalment of the hitfranchise when he suffered a stroke. The film was expected to roll by the end of 2016. However, snaps of John Abraham, Neha Sharma and Abhishek Bachchan purported to be from the first schedule of Hera Pheri 3 had surfaced online last June.

Neeraj Vora