Costume Designer Bhanu Athaiya, India’s First Oscar Winner, Passes Away At 91

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Mumbai: India’s first Oscar winner Bhanu Athaiya, an acclaimed costume designer,  breathed her last in Mumbai on Thursday. She was 91.

“She passed away early this morning. Eight years ago, she was diagnosed with a tumour in her brain. For the last three years, she was bedridden because one side of her body was paralysed,” her daughter Radhika Gupta told PTI.

Athaiya, who worked in over 100 films, won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for the 1982 film ‘Gandhi’, which was directed by Richard Attenborough.

Among other films she worked in are CID, Pyaasa, Kagaz Ke Phool, Waqt, Arzoo, Amrapali, Suraj, Anita, Milan, Raat Aur Din, Shikar, Guide, Teesri Manzil, Mera Saaya, Inteqam, Abhinetri, Johny Mera Naam, Geeta Mera Naam, Abdullah, Karz, Ek Duuje Ke Liye, Razia Sultan, Nikaah, Agneepath (1990), Ajooba and 1942 – A Love Story.

Born in Kolhapur on April 28, 1929, Athaiya never attended a fashion school and was never formally trained.

“For me, it (working for cinema) became a way to express myself and let my imagination soar. It was so fulfilling that I did not feel the need to do anything else, like opening a boutique. Top stars started approaching me on their own and recommending me to filmmakers. Nargis loved my designs,” she said in an interview with The Indian Express.

In 2012, Athaiya returned her Oscar to Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for safe-keeping.

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