Bhanu Athaiya, Oscar-winning costume designer, dies at 91 after prolonged illness

FP Staff
·1-min read

Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, India's first Oscar winner, died at her home in Mumbai on Thursday after prolonged illness, her daughter said. She was 91.

Athaiya passed away peacefully in her sleep, her daughter Radhika Gupta told PTI. The last rites took place at the Chandanwadi crematorium in South Mumbai.

"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 said.

Athaiya, who was born in Kolhapur, began her career as a costume designer in Hindi cinema with Guru Dutt's 1956 superhit CID.

She won the Best Costume Design Oscar for her work in Richard Attenborough's 1982 film Gandhi along with John Mollo. In her memoir, The Art Of Costume Design, she recalled being the only Indian on set, while every other crew member was from England. She was tasked with creating costumes for the Indian characters, and Mollo handled the British ones.

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

In a career spanning five decades and over 100 films, she won two National Awards €" for Gulzar's mystery drama Lekin (1990) and the period film Lagaan directed by Ashutosh Gowariker (2001).

(With inputs from Press Trust of India)

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