Bollywood art director Nitin Desai found dead at his studio, defaulted on Rs2.5b loans: Report
In a shocker, renowned Bollywood art director Nitin Chandrakant Desai was found hanging in a case of suspected suicide at his N.D. Studios, on Wednesday, official sources said.
Bollywood celebrities are left in "shock" at the demise of Desai, calling it a "heartbreaking news."
The Karjat police rushed to his studio for investigations and the cause of the suicide was not clear. The end came just three days before Desai’s 58th birthday on Sunday (Aug.6), even as top Bollywood personalities mourned his sudden demise.
Police were attempting to verify if he has left behind any suicide note at the studio or any other location.
Among the top-rung art directors of Bollywood, the Dapoli (Ratnagiri) born Desai was the art director for major films like 'Devdas,’ 'Lagaan,’ 'Jodhaa Akbar,’ 'Harishchandrachi Factory', 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam,’ ‘Munna Bhai MBBS’ etc.
Nitin Desai, who was found hanging in a case of suspected suicide early on morning, was reeling under a financial crises with accumulated debts of over Rs250 crore (Rs2.5 billion) and insolvency proceedings initiated against him only last week.
Independent MLA Mahesh Baldi of Uran (Raigad) in whose constituency Desai’s ‘ND Art World Pvt Ltd’ was sprawled over 52 acres, confirmed to media persons that the creative genius was bogged down with financial issues since past four-five years, which may have triggered his suicide.
The National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) Mumbai had ordered initiating Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (CIRP) against Desai’s company, and appointed Jitender Kothari as an Interim Resolution professional, in the plea filed by the creditors CFM Asset Reconstruction Pvt. Ltd for the debts of a little over Rs250 crore.
In 2016, Desai, his wife Naina and their firm had availed a loan of Rs150 crore from ECL Finance Ltd, and then in 2018, they took another Rs31 crore, totaling Rs181 crore.
Around 2019, the financial troubles had begun and owing to a series of irregular or delayed repayments of the principal amount, in March 2020, the loan came under a watch, and by March 2021, it was declared as a non-performing asset. By June 2022, the total outstanding amount had accumulated to a staggering Rs252 crore following which the insolvency proceedings were initiated in end-July.
Desai had cited the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns, lack of shootings at the studio and a major fire on the premises as among the reasons for the crises, but was optimistic of emerging from these soon, even as several of his political friends across parties attempted to boost his morale.
Later during the day, the glamour and entertainment industry were plunged into a shock after learning of Desai’s sudden demise and tributes poured in from various quarters.
Among them are Governor Ramesh Bais, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, Deputy CMs Devendra Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar, Congress’s Nana Patole, Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar, many other leaders from different parties, top Bollywood personalities and others.
Condoling the death of Desai, Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri wrote in a social media post: "I am heartbroken and sad beyond control to learn about my dearest friend Nitin Desai's death. A legendary Production designer, a visionary who made ND Studio… Nitin not only loved Pallavi and I, he always guided me even in films we didn't do together. Why Nitin, why?"
"Some of Nitin’s films: Salaam Bombay, 1942 A Love Story, Khamoshi, Kama Sutra, Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Mission Kashmir, Lagaan, Devdas, The Legend Of Bhagat Singh, Munnabhai MBBS, Swades, Mangal Pandey, Slumdog Millionaire, Jodhaa Akbar..Now you know why he was a legend," added Vivek.
Kangana Ranaut took to Instagram Stories and wrote: "Such a terrible news!! Beyond shocked..pained beyond words..Om Shanti."
Sanjay Dutt tweeted: "Deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Nitin Desai. A brilliant art director and a good friend, his contribution to Indian cinema has been monumental. My thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time."
Madhur Bhandarkar said: "Just heard the devastating news about the passing of multiple National award-winner Art Director Nitin Desai. It's hard to believe. Had the privilege of working with him on four remarkable films. #TrafficSignal, #fashion , #jail & #InduSarkar His immense talent and extrovert personality made every project unforgettable. Indian cinema has lost a true gem. Heartfelt condolences to his family members . We will miss you Dada. #OmShanti."
Actor Riteish Deshmukh said in a tweet: "Deeply shocked to know that #NitinDesai, a legendary Production Designer who has contributed immensely to the growth of Indian cinema in no more. My heartfelt condolences to his family and loved ones. I had known him for years.. soft spoken, humble, ambitious & a visionary… you will be missed my friend. Om Shanti."
Parineeti wrote: "Heartbreaking to hear about Nitin sir. #NitinDesai. His groundbreaking work, wisdom and artistry will be remembered forever. Rest in peace sir."