India's first Oscar awardee, Costume Designer Bhanu Athaiya breathed her last in Mumbai, on Thursday, October 15. She was 91. Athaiya's daughter, Radhika Gupta during an interaction with press agency PTI informed, "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." The last rites took place at the Chandanwadi crematorium in South Mumbai.
Who was Bhanu Athaiya?
In 1982, Bhanu Athaiya had become the pride of India when she grabbed the Academy Award for Best Costume Design in 1982. She had worked in Richard Attenborough's film Gandhi. Despite being a non-Indian, she had managed to give Ben Kinsley and the other characters an authentic look, with features quite familiar to what Mahatma Gandhi used to be. She was the only Indian who head the costume department in the film.
Bhanu Athaiya had also contributed her talents to other works classical Indian cinema such as CID, Kagaaz Ke Phool, Pyaasa, 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 among others. Bhanu had also won the National Award for Ashutosh Gowarikar's Lagaan and Gulzar's Lekin.
Bhanu Athaiya had also worked in other international projects such as Conrad Rook's daring Siddhartha and Krishna Shah's Indo-American production Shalimar, and the German short film The Cloud Door.
Perfection arrived in her art, even though she never formally attended any fashion school. As mentioned in her book, The Art of Costume Design, she had mentioned that she felt fulfilled and emotionally satisfied in her profession.
In the year 2012, Bhanu Athaiya returned her Oscar to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for safe-keeping.