Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, India’s first Oscar winner, died at her home on Thursday after a protracted illness. She was 91. Bhanu Athaiya received the Oscar award in 1983 and remained the only Indian to hold the title for a long 26 years.
Unfortunately, she returned her Oscar to the Academy in December 2012 after being diagnosed with brain tumor. She did this believing that it would be the best place to keep her award in endlessness after she is no more.
Her daughter Radhika Gupta said Athayiya died in her sleep. “In 2012, she was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She had been bedridden since 2016 when her right side got paralyzed,” she said. She was cremated at Chandanwadi in south Mumbai.
Bhanu Athaiya designed costumes in almost 100 movies and won two National Film Awards for her work in Lekin and Lagaan. She also wrote a book called The Art of Costume Design which she released in 2010.
Athaiya, who was born in Kolhapur, began her career as a costume designer in Hindi cinema with Guru Dutt”s 1956 super hit “C.I.D”. She won the Academy Award for Best Costume Design for Attenborough’s “Gandhi”, with Ben Kingsley as the Mahatma, along with John Mollo.