As Ganesh Chaturthi approaches, preparations for the festivities are in full swing. The revered festival, spanning from September 19 to September 28, is a significant event in Mumbai. The first glimpse of Lord Ganesha’s idol at Lalbaugcha Raja has been revealed ahead of the celebrations. Notably, this is the final creation of the late art director Nitin Desai, completed shortly before his tragic passing by suicide in August.
Lalbaugcha Raja is one of the oldest and most popular pandals in Mumbai attracting thousands of devotees including celebrities and politicians. This year, the pandal is also making headlines as it was designed by the late Art Director Nitin Desai.
A few days before his unfortunate demise, Desai had confirmed the completion of the decoration work and Mandap Pujan’s responsibilities on his Instagram handle. He accompanied the post with a series of pictures from the mandap ritual Puja and the layout of the pandal. He wrote, “May the king of Lalbagh be victorious. The mandap puja and decoration of Shri Ganesha in the 90th year of the Raja of Lalbagh was completed today. Ganapati Bappa Morya.”
Nitin Chandrakant Desai, in his career span of about three decades, collaborated with several big-shot directors like Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Ashutosh Gowarikar and Rajkumar Hirani to design sets for the blockbuster movies including Lagaan, Jodhaa Akbar, Munnabhai M.B.B.S., Lage Raho Munna Bhai and Prem Ratan Dhan Payo. He also received critical acclaim for his contribution to films like Devdas. The art director also bagged the National Film Award for Best Art Direction four times and was also presented with the Filmfare Best Art Direction Award three times.
On August 2, Desai committed suicide and his body was reportedly found at his art studio in Karjat. Reports also suggest that the director was dealing with financial distress and the studio wasn’t earning well.