Bhanu Athaiya made history on April 11, 1983, when she became the first Indian to win an Oscar.

Bhanu took home the Oscar for Best Costume Design for her work in Lord Richard Attenborough’s ‘Gandhi’ at the 55th annual Academy Awards. She shared her win with her British counterpart John Mollo and continued to be the only Indian woman, to hold the title for 26 years.

Today, as the nation and the Indian film indusrty comes to terms with the news of her passing, we turn back the clock to relive her Oscar-winning moment from 1983.

Keeping her acceptance speech short and tasteful, Athaiya said, “It’s too good to believe. Thank you Academy and thank you, Sir Richard Attenborough, for focusing the world’s attention on India,”

Although AR Rahman, Resul Pookutty and Gulzar have also won Oscars, Bhanu is still the only Indian woman to win an Academy Award even to this day.

She went on to work as a costume designer in over a 100 films including ‘Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam’, ‘Guide’, ‘Ganga Jumna’, ‘Amrapali’, ‘Waqt’, ‘Teesri Manzil’, ‘Mera Naam Joker’, ‘Chandni’, and the Oscar-nominated film ‘Lagaan’.

Bhanu passed away at her home on Thursday after a prolonged illness, her daughter said. She was 91.

She reportedly passed away peacefully in her sleep, said her daughter Radhika Gupta in a statement.

“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.

The last rites took place at the Chandanwadi crematorium in South Mumbai.


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By vinayak