Aesthetic matters

Aesthetic matters

Films, they say, transportLarger than life  Nitin Chandrakant Desai with actress Tejaswini Lonari, who plays the Chittod ki Rani in ‘Chittod Ki Rani Padmini Ka Johur’. us to a world of dreams. If it does, one of the biggest credits for that will go to art directors who weave a world of magic for the actors to take us there. And unfortunately, they are the least famous amongst the people behind the cameras responsible for the success of a film.

But when we are talking of art directors in India, there is no way we can ignore or take this discussion forward without talking about Nitin Chandrakant Desai. The famous art director who owns his sprawling studios in Karjat named ND Studio, a place close to Mumbai, has been in news for more reasons than one. His Marathi serial Raja Shivchhatrapati has broken new records to become one of the biggest all time hits, and his new Hindi serial Chittod Ki Rani Padmini Ka Johur on Sony has been launched to good reviews. Today Nitin Desai is India’s most famous art director and one of the most sought-after television producers.

The slightly reclusive person has had a long run in the industry spanning over two decades. “I started my career with Tamas in the 80s. After that I had to design the sets for Discovery of India which was a big challenge. It was during this show that I started learning more about our country, its heritage and also the architecture. And since creating sets was something I was passionate about, it gelled very well,” remembers the handsome art director who has turned producer now. Ask him about this and he will respond shyly, “Actually this whole production business is new to me and I have just started it, Raja Shivchhatrapati being my first production. After being in the industry for such a long time, I started nurturing the wish of becoming a producer. And I am lucky to have started with a successful show like Raja Shivchhatrapati.”

The Marathi serial’s success encouraged Desai to explore the field of production further and thus Rani Padmini happened. Part of the much touted revival package for Sony, this show is expected to play a major role in helping Sony regain its lost ground. “As I mentioned earlier, history always fascinated me. And there are few characters in Indian history as fascinating as Rani Padmini. She was an epitome of beauty as well as bravery. Her story has sacrifice, bravery, love and glamour — all the necessary elements for a good serial. Which is why I thought of making a serial based on her life.”  Newcomer actress Tejaswini Lonari plays the Chitod ki Rani in this serial.

Interestingly, the serial is being shot on the same sets where Ashutosh Gowariker shot Jodhaa Akbar. “Few years back, Ashutosh and I had gone to Rajasthan to do the background research for the film Jodhaa Akbar. That is when I came across a number of books on Rani Padmini and read them. And since the sets of Jodhaa Akbar were already there in my studio, I decided to use them,” says the art director who won innumerable awards for his creative talent. However, he also adds that significant changes have been made to the set to give it the required look and feel for the television serial.

In a such a magnum opus, dress designing also plays a big role. And Desai left no stone unturned by hiring designer Neeta Lulla for the show. However, he admits, “Hiring a big name like Neeta for a television serial is very difficult. But it is extremely nice of her to agree to design the look for different characters in Chittod Ki Rani Padmini...” In fact, rumours doing round say that Desai has spent more than Rs 60 lakhs for the dresses alone, apart from the Rs 1 crore worth of jewellery they are using! The creative person inside Desai could not be buried by the producer in Desai and thus the team has made every conscious effort to make sure that a high quality serial is produced. “We have used the best cameras to shoot this serial. In fact, for rarely are they used for television serials even abroad. These are used only for high-end films. But we wanted the best for this show, and thus used them,” says Desai.

The period serial bug seems to have bit Desai because there are rumours that he is also producing another show — Rani Laxmibai — for Zee TV, though he refuses to comment on that. Whatever it is, there is no denying the fact that Nitin Desai has arrived on the television scene and Ekta Kapoors and Rajan Shahis take note!

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