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Police find Nitin Desai's voice notes critical of creditor firm

By Dnyanesh Chavan
August 03, 2023 23:01 IST
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In one of the voice notes found after his alleged suicide, Bollywood art director Nitin Chandrakant Desai criticised a financial services firm to which his company owed money, the police said on Thursday.

IMAGE: Bollywood art director Nitin Chandrakant Desai. Photograph: Courtesy Nitin Chandrakant Desai/Instagram

He also purportedly said that he had walked a long road, and could not go any further.

The Raigad police in Maharashtra, who are investigating the suicide, found 11 audio clips in a voice recorder found at Desai's office, an official said.


In one of these clips or voice notes, he is heard stating that his company could not come out of the financial crisis it was facing because of the procedure adopted by the financial services firm.

The voice notes were of duration ranging from four minutes to 20 minutes, and in some of them Desai, who was 57, narrated his life story, the official said.

The police are likely to call the officials of the financial services firm mentioned in the note for enquiry, he said.

Desai's company had defaulted on a Rs 252 crore loan repayment to creditors and the Mumbai bench of the National Company Law Tribunal had initiated insolvency proceedings against it.

Desai's company ND's Art World Pvt Ltd had borrowed Rs 185 crore through two loans from ECL Finance in 2016 and 2018, and troubles with repayments started from January 2020.

ECL Finance is a non-banking finance arm of the Edelweiss Group.

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Thursday told the state Assembly that the role a private lending firm, from which Desai had taken loan, would be probed to know whether he was charged high interest and if he was under mental stress.

The voice notes mention four persons, the police official said.

In one note, Desai appealed to the government to take over his Karjat studio to provide a platform to artists and budding talent.

He had faced many ups and downs in life and walked a long road, and it was not possible for him to go a few more steps further from this point, that was why he was stopping here, Desai purportedly said in another audio clip.

The art director who had designed the sets of films such as "Lagaan" and "Jodhaa Akbar” and the popular TV quiz show “Kaun Banega Crorepati” was found dead on the premises of his N D Studios at Karjat in Raigad district on Wednesday morning.

The autopsy report said that death was due to hanging, said Somnath Gharge, Raigad superintendent of police.

As per the probe, Desai landed at the Mumbai airport from Delhi around midnight and reached his studio in Karjat, 60 km away, around 2 am on Wednesday.

He offered prayers at the temple on the studio premises and later asked his attendant to accompany him for a stroll around the studio.

He then asked the attendant to bring the key of the mega floor. Police believe that Desai had planned to end his life a month ago, as he had had a rope suspended in the middle of the centre stage on the mega floor back then.

When his workers asked him about the purpose of the suspended rope, he said it was according to Vastu Shastra, the police official said, adding that Desai had also placed a step ladder nearby.

In the early hours of Wednesday, Desai and his attendant visited the mega floor.

Then Desai asked the attendant to lock it up, but kept the key with himself.

Before going to his bungalow -- named 'Salman Ki Haveli', Desai gave a voice recorder to his attendant and asked him to hand it over to his lawyer in the morning. But then he called him again and took back the recorder, the police official said.

Desai then asked the attendant to collect the recorder from him in the morning as he wanted to record something in it, the official said.

Next morning the attendant found that Desai was not in his bungalow. He found the voice recorder and played it.

As he heard the words Lalbaug-chya Raja-la majha shevat-cha namaskar (My last respect to Lalbaug-cha Raja), the attendant sensed that something was wrong, and rushed to the mega floor where he found the art director hanging from the rope, the official said.

Desai apparently committed suicide between 4 am to 6 am, he said.

Before ending life, he had fashioned a bow and arrow from rope on the floor of the stage. His body hung above the tip of the arrow, the official said.

It might mean that he had picked up a "Shiv Dhanush" -- a very difficult task -- when he created his sprawling Karjat studio, but could not handle it, the official said.

'Lalbaug-cha Raja', it is to be noted, is a famous Ganesh installed in central Mumbai's Lalbaug area during Ganesh festival.

Desai designed the pandal of this very popular Ganesh year after year.

In the last voice note he recorded, Desai is heard speaking the words of the famous Marathi devotional song Paule chalati Pandharichi waat (Feet move towards Pandharpur, the pilgrimage town).

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Dnyanesh Chavan in Karjat
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