Nitin Desai: Award-Winning Bollywood Art Director Dies by Suicide in His Studio Owing to Financial Burden

One of his notable achievements was contributing to the creation of sets for the Oscar-winning blockbuster "Slumdog Millionaire" in 2008.

Bollywood art director Nitin Desai, known for his award-winning work, has been found dead in his studio, prompting a police investigation. Desai, 58, was reportedly discovered by studio workers at ND Studios in Karjat, near Mumbai. Police rushed to the scene but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to reports, Desai committed suicide allegedly as he was in significant debt, according to local media reports. However, the circumstances under which he was found dead are still unclear. Desai was a prominent figure in the Indian film industry, having won the National Award for Best Art Direction on four occasions during his illustrious 20-year career.

Curtain Call

Nitin Desai
Nitin Desai Twitter

Since 2005, Desai had been living in the Raigad district, Maharashtra, where he founded his expansive 52-acre studio, producing films like "Farzand" and "Ajintha." According to the Hindustan Times, Desai reportedly filed an insolvency petition against his company last week, indicating substantial financial debt.

According to sources, Desai had borrowed $1.8 billion from a finance company called CFM. The loan agreements were made in 2016 and 2018, with Desai pledging 42 acres of land and other properties as collateral for the loan.

Unfortunately, he was unable to repay the loans, leading to a substantial debt, and CFM's attempts to recover the amount were unsuccessful.

Nitin Desai
Nitin Desai Instagram

CFM had engaged Edelweiss Asset Reconstruction to retrieve its loan accounts, but despite numerous attempts, the loan remained unrecovered. Consequently, Edelweiss sought permission to take action under the SARFAESI Act to reclaim the mortgaged land through property confiscation. This request was made in September 2022 and is still pending.

Edelweiss filed a petition with the National Company Law Tribunal (NCTL), and after the hearing, the court approved the debt recovery process. The court's order was issued on July 25. Additionally, Edelweiss wrote a letter to the collector to initiate the confiscation of the land as part of the debt recovery process.

Earlier, the local BJP MLA from Karjat, Mahesh Baldi confirmed that Nitin Desai died by suicide due to a financial crisis. Baldi said, "Nitin Desai's ND studio comes in my constituency, the financial crisis was going on for many days and due to that, he committed suicide in ND studio this morning."

Nitin Desai
Nitin Desai Instagram

The police statement read: "We have found the body of art director Nitin Desai in his studio in Karjat. Police were informed about this by a worker on set. When the police team reached the studio we saw his body. We are investigating the case further for ascertaining all aspects in this case."

Bollywood Shattered

Desai's company, ND's Art World, is involved in organizing, maintaining, and operating replicas of historical monuments. Additionally, the company provides facilities and services related to hotels, theme restaurants, shopping malls, and recreation centers.

News of Desai's death came as a shock to the Indian film industry. Filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkar revealed that just three months ago, Desai had hosted a grand wedding celebration for his daughter. The sudden demise of his friend came as a shocking and distressing event for Bhandarkar.

Asked if he suspected Desei was struggling financially, Bhandarkar said no: "The wedding was really lavish. He was acting just like how a father whose daughter is getting married would act -- he was happy and over the moon. Everything seemed perfect."

Desai collaborated with renowned filmmakers like Ashutosh Gowarikar, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, and Rajkumar Hirani. His work included the creation of sets for several successful films, such as "1942: A Love Story," "Devdas" in 2002, and "Once Upon a Time in Mumbai" in 2010.

Nitin Desai
Nitin Desai Twitter

One of his notable achievements was contributing to the creation of sets for the Oscar-winning blockbuster "Slumdog Millionaire" in 2008. His talent and expertise in the art direction and set design played a significant role in the success of these acclaimed movies.

Following the director's passing, heartwarming tributes have poured in from various sources. Indian-Canadian actor Akshay Kumar wrote: "Unbelievably sad to know about the demise of Nitin Desai.

"He was a stalwart in production design and such a big part of our cinema fraternity.

Nitin Desai
Nitin Desai Instagram

"He worked on so many of my films... this is a huge loss. Out of respect, we are not releasing the OMG 2 trailer today."

Film-maker Ketan Mehta also felt shocked by Desai's untimely death. He said: "I have heard about his demise and I am shocked. We worked together on quite a few films Aar Ya Paar, Oh Darling! Yeh Hai India, Mangal Pandey... it has been a long association and an incredible talent. I am still shocked."

Ashutosh Gowariker, who collaborated with Desai, expressed that he was "stunned" and deeply shocked by the news of the director's passing.