Ashish Lakhia, one of the most talented art directors known for his work in Mirch Masala and Maya Memsaab, passed away in Ahmedabad Sunday of multiple organ failure that began with his lung giving way. Other complications followed. He was 49. He worked with his mother Meera Lakhia. His brother Aditya Lakhia, known for playing Kachra in Lagaan, said that their parents have taken his death very badly. “Since he lived with my parents in Ahmedabad while I live in Mumbai, my parents have taken his death very badly, specially my mother who was very close to him,” said Aditya. “My brother was a true artiste. He followed his heart wherever it took him. He did the art direction in Rihaee and Mirch Masala with my mother. Then he made many documentary films. He was predominantly a painter. He had an exhibition at the Jehangir Art gallery about 20 years ago which was very well received,” he added.
A close friend of Ashish, actor-filmmaker Amole Gupte said: “Ashish Lakhia was a lot more than an art director. He was a painting prodigy as child. In fact, he inspired me to become a painter. A truly gifted artist and an intellectual.” Gupte says that he whenever he’d visit Ahmedabad, “I’d stay with Ashish and his parents Meera and Snehal Lakhia who are truly the best parents in the world. Their home is open to guests any time. For me, it is an irreparable loss. He was a friend, inspiration and a beacon of hope and an angel whenever I was in distress.”
Ashish, a close friend of Smita Patil since he assisted his mother Meera on the art direction of Ketan Mehta’s Bhavni Bhavai, never got his due in the film industry.
His filmmaker cousin Apoorva Lakhia says they were “very close”. “He was soft-spoken and meek. And an amazingly talented art director. It’s a pity he was typecast as an art-house artiste. There was so much more to Ashish. I wish our industry had recognised him in a more mainstream mould,” said Apoorva, known for directing thriller Shootout at Lokhandwala.