Meet Bhanu Athaiya, an Indian costume designer who won the first Oscar by any Indian citizen for her wonderful work in Richard Attenborough’s 1982 movie Gandhi. See photos, video and a biography of Bhanu Athaiya here.

Bhanu Athaiya

Bhanu walks down the memory lane to narrate her experience when she made history in the Indian cinema by winning the prestigious Oscar. Now, that AR Rahman won two Oscars today for his music in Slumdog Millionaire, we remember Bhanu’s recognition as the entry of India on the world stage.

When the Oscar nominations were announced, Gandhi featured in a big way. “And I was asked to go to the Dorothy Chandler pavilion in Los Angeles for the awards. Five movies, La Traviata, Sophie’s Choice, Tron, Victor/Victoria and Gandhi were contending for the Oscar. But before the awards, my fellow designers predicted that the Oscar would come my way because the canvas of the movie was so huge.”

She also talked about Rahman’s work when he was nominated for two Academy Awards.

“I had worked with him earlier in Lagaan and Swades. He mostly works out of his studio in south India. We meet at some stage during the making of the movies we work in. He is very versatile and has such a rich education,” said Athaiya.

As a biography, Bhanu Athaiya was born in the 1930s in Kolhapur in Maharashtra. She started working in the Indian movie industry from 1956 and worked in her first movie as C.I.D. Since then she has worked in more than 100 movies during a career spanning over 50 years.

Athaiya got one Oscar and two National Awards for costume designing. Her filmography includes 1942: A Love Story, Hero Hiralal, Rocky, Jaani Dushman, Aaj Ki Taaza Khabar, Tere Mere Sapne, Guide, Kaagaz Ke Phool, Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India and most recently Swades.

She got married to Satyendra Athaiya who was a poet and a lyricist but got divorced later. Athaiya currently resides in Mumbai and is a member of the Academy Awards voting panel.