Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, India’s first Oscar winner, handed away at her residence on Thursday after extended sickness on the age of 91. The primary Indian to win an Oscar for her work within the 1983 movie Gandhi started her profession as a fancy dress designer in Hindi movies with Guru Dutt’s 1956 smash hit C.I.D. She entrenched her Indian design sensibilities on the worldwide firmament when she received the Academy Award for Greatest Costume Design in Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi together with John Mollo. Her Mumtaz-style sari nonetheless stays probably the most sought-after kinds for fashionistas. Designer Ritu Kumar, who was her buddy and colleague shares, “I’m so upset to listen to this. You don’t make them like that anymore. In truth, when she received the Oscar, which I felt she actually deserved, lots of people would ask, ‘why and what did she do within the movie?’ and I’d be like, ‘You should be joking?’ She had a deep understanding of costume designing and she or he was at all times genuine and multidimensional – be it sourcing for khadi or a movie’s decor. Her work proves that she by no means glamorised any scenario and stayed true to the storyboard and director’s imaginative and prescient. To be a fancy dress designer in movies may be very tough as one realises that one is the least necessary member of the crew and one will get the final precedence, however one’s work is of paramount significance. As a result of when folks watch a movie, garments are one thing they will discover first. In her illustrious physique of labor, she exercised enormous quantities of restraint and there was at all times a way of stability. The best way she draped dhotis and styled her characters was genuine with out coming into right into a glam mode.”
Ritu and Bhanu spoke about society, altering occasions and their mutual love for textiles, prints and cinema to one another at any time when they met. “A couple of times she spoke to me about cloth sourcing as I work within the craft space. In Sahib Bibi Aur Ghulam (1962), Meena Kumari was purported to be sporting Benarasi saris all through, which made her look fairly stiff so Bhanu included the light-weight web into the appears to be like to type her, which made her look lovely. After some extent, we went into the realm of Bollywood, which was dream sequence pushed and this was not her forte and she or he didn’t take pleasure in it. A interval movie like Lagaan was extra up her alley and I favored the way in which she depicted the ridiculous stiff higher lip Brits who wore yards and yards of materials within the sizzling Indian climate. She understood the Indian background and the Indianness of ours superbly,” shares Ritu.
“We met on and off at awards features and it was pretty to see that regardless that she was styling among the largest stars, she was by no means star-struck. I at all times loved my time together with her. She was self-effacing. The 50s and 60s have been the eras when folks weren’t pushing or selling themselves , it was a world with out cell phones and one would typically get caught on a shoot. She instructed me concerning the salt march shoot which was sizzling and insufferable they usually had nowhere to remain,” provides Ritu.
“It’s the tip of an period. Regardless that she was Mumbai-based, we at all times saved in contact. The final time I met her was at a vogue week in Jaipur 5 – 6 years in the past. We have been there for 3 days judging crafts of the area,” she remembers.
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