2 Aug 2023

Noted art director Nitin Desai dies of suspected suicide, was known for projects like Lagaan & Devdas

Noted art director Nitin Chandrakant Desai, who was found dead on Wednesday at his studio in Maharashtra's Raigad district.

Desai was 58 years old. Sources said that Desai ended his life at his studio in Karjat. He was the owner of the ND Studios and that’s where this unfortunate incident occurred, in the wee hours of August 2. Nitin Desai's body was found by workers at ND studios in Karjat.

Desai owed Rs 252-crore loan to its financial creditor, and a bankruptcy court had admitted an insolvency petition against his company last week. 

Desai's company, ND's Art World Pvt Ltd, had borrowed Rs 185 crore through two loans from ECL Finance in 2016 and 2018, and troubles with repayments started from January 2020. Desai's body was found at the ND Studio premises on Wednesday morning, and he is suspected to have committed suicide. 

The noted art director, known for projects like Lagaan and Devdas, had opened this sprawling studio in the Khalapur taluka on the outskirts of the financial capital where films like Jodha Akbar were shot. 

Won National Film Award

He won National Film Award for Best Art Direction four times, and Filmfare Best Art Direction Award three times. In 2005, he opened his ND Studios spread over 52 acres (21 ha) at Karjat, Navi Mumbai, near Mumbai, which has since hosted movies like Jodha Akbar, Traffic Signal as also Color's reality show Big Boss.

Some of his other notable works include Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas, Jodha Akbar,  Once Upon a Time in Mumbai and Bajirao Mastani, among others. His last project as an art director was with Ashutosh Gowarikar on the 2019 film Panipat. For his work, he was honoured by the prestigious Art Directors’ Guild Film Society and American Cinematheque in Hollywood.

His company ND's Art World is engaged in the business of organising, maintaining, operating replicas of historical monuments and providing facilities and services related to hotels, theme restaurants, shopping malls and recreation centres.

On July 25, the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal had admitted a petition filed by Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction Company to initiate a corporate insolvency resolution process. As per the order passed by NCLT's Member (judicial) H V Subba Rao and member (technical) Anu Jagmohan Singh after hearing both the sides, Jitender Kothari was appointed as the interim resolution professional.

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