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RIP Nitin Desai: From Lagaan to Devdas to Jodhaa Akbar, a visual maestro's legacy lives on through his iconic set designs

Nitin Desai died by suicide on the morning of August 2, 2023.

RIP Nitin Desai: From Lagaan to Devdas to Jodhaa Akbar, a visual maestro's legacy lives on through his iconic set designs
Nitin Chandrakant Desai/Instagram

Last Updated: 11.56 AM, Aug 02, 2023


Nitin Desai, a renowned Indian art director, has left an indelible mark on the world of cinema with his extraordinary set designs. Known for his meticulous attention to detail and ability to transport audiences into the heart of the story, Desai's work has graced numerous iconic films. Tragically, on August 2, 2023, Nitin passed away by suicide at his own ND Studios in the suburb of Karjat, just a week before his 58th birthday on August 9. Despite his untimely demise, his legacy lives on through his remarkable contributions to the cinematic world.

Let's take a look at some of the notable movies for which he designed the sets:

1942: A Love Story (1994)

Nitin Desai's early work in this romantic period film showcased his ability to transport audiences to a bygone era. The film's settings, from pre-independence India to lush landscapes, added a nostalgic touch to the storyline.

Lagaan (2001)

Nitin Desai's artistry shone through in this period drama set during British colonial rule. His intricate sets recreated a rustic Indian village, complete with cricket fields and British architecture, adding depth and authenticity to the film's narrative.

Devdas (2002)

The opulence and grandeur of the sets in Devdas contributed significantly to the film's visual splendour. Nitin Desai's intricate and lavish designs brought to life the aristocratic world of the early 20th century, with breathtaking mansions, courtyards, and opulent interiors.

Jodhaa Akbar (2008)

Transporting audiences back to the Mughal era, Nitin Desai's sets for Jodhaa Akbar were a masterpiece in historical recreation. The majestic palaces, intricate havelis, and sprawling courtyards provided the perfect backdrop for the epic romance.

Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013)

In this modern adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Nitin Desai's sets captured the essence of a vibrant and culturally rich Gujarati town. The colourful streets, intricate balconies, and bustling marketplace added depth to the film's intense love story.

Bajirao Mastani (2015)

Once again, Nitin Desai's artistic prowess was on full display in this historical epic. His intricate recreations of palaces, forts, and battlefields brought to life the world of the Maratha Empire, complementing the film's grand narrative.

Prem Ratan Dhan Payo (2015)

Nitin Desai's flair for opulence and grandeur was evident in this family drama. His sets captured the regal splendour of palaces and royal courts, enhancing the film's larger-than-life narrative.

Panipat (2019)

Panipat relied heavily on Nitin Desai's ability to recreate historical settings. The elaborate sets, including majestic forts, battlefield landscapes, and regal courts, lent authenticity to the retelling of the Third Battle of Panipat.

Ludo (2020)

Even in a film with a diverse range of stories and genres, Nitin Desai's sets managed to leave an impact. His imaginative and whimsical designs added charm and depth to the various worlds depicted in Ludo.

Nitin Desai's unparalleled talent as an art director has helped shape the visual identity of some of the most iconic Indian films. While his tragic passing leaves a void in the world of cinema, his creative legacy continues to inspire and captivate audiences worldwide. Each movie listed here stands as a testament to his dedication, creativity, and profound contribution to the art of filmmaking.

About the author: Chandragupta is part human brain, part generative AI. The former provides intellect, while the latter does the heavy lifting of an artificial neural network. The name, if you haven’t already worked it out, is a backronym of ChatGPT.

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