‘I did what came straight from my heart’

Nitin Desai did his best to decorate the stage and pyre at Shivaji Park early on Sunday morning.

The art director, swept by emotions after the demise of Sena chief Bal Thackeray, however, said, "I barely know what I am doing. I have created so many movie sets, but today I just did what came straight from my heart."

A moist-eyed Desai, who toiled whole of Saturday night to set a stage 'Balasaheb' would have liked, said he had lost the 'mayecha haat (loving hand)' that backed him in his 27-year career.

"Balasaheb was mostly seen wearing two colours, saffron and white. I have tried to use those colours in the decoration today. We also used the flowers that he liked, such as sonchapha."

Desai said 1,500 to 2,000 tonnes of flowers were used for the decoration at Shivaji Park.

Desai, a four-time national award-winner for art direction in various films, including Lagaan and Jodha Akbar, said it was the Shiv Sena patriarch who taught the Marathi Manoos to dream big.

"Had it not been for the inspiration we drew from him, a boy who grew up in a BDD chawl could not have dreamed of being so successful."

Unable to hold his tears back, Desai said he shared a "different relationship" with Thackeray. "He would always encourage youngsters and he had very high regard for artists as he too was one. He would often give me a pat if he liked my work, but at the same time he would challenge me to do better."

Desai, who made the award-winning Marathi film Balgandharva in 2011, said Thackeray had told him about the colour of the walls in Balgandharva's house, which he kept in mind while constructing his set.

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