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Oscars 2024: Nitin Desai, late art director, honoured during In Memoriam segment at the Academy Awards

The Oscars’ In Memoriam segment on Sunday night on March 10 (Monday morning for India), paid tribute to a talent that left an indelible mark on the world of cinema at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Among the luminaries remembered, Indian art director and producer Nitin Desai was honoured alongside icons like Tina Turner and Matthew Perry. Desai’s passing, at the age of 57, was a tragic loss for the film industry, as he had contributed significantly to some of Bollywood’s most memorable works.

Nitin Desai had won four National Awards for Best Art Direction. He was best known for his fruitful collaboration with director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, during which he crafted stunning sets that became integral to the visual storytelling of films such as Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Bajirao Mastani. Beyond his partnership with Bhansali, Desai lent his creative vision to a diverse array of filmmakers, including Rajkumar Hirani, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, and Ashutosh Gowariker.

His extensive filmography boasts credits in beloved movies like Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, Dostana, Lage Raho Munna Bhai, Munna Bhai MBBS, Mission Kashmir, Josh, and Pyaar To Hona Hi Tha. Desai’s final cinematic endeavour was the 2019 war epic drama Panipat, directed by Ashutosh Gowariker.

In August 2023, art director Nitin Desai allegedly died by suicide at ND Studio in Karjat. The 57-year-old artist had been facing financial woes, struggling to repay a staggering Rs 252-crore loan, leading to a bankruptcy court admitting an insolvency petition against his company, ND’s Art World Pvt Ltd, according to a report by PTI.

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