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Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, India’s first Oscar winner, died at her home on Thursday after a prolonged illness at the age of 91. She along with John Mollo won an Oscar for Best Costume Design for the 1983 film ‘Gandhi’ directed by Sir Richard Attenborough. Only years later in 2010 A.R. Rahman and later Resul Pookutty bagged the prestigious academy awards.

Radhika Gupta the daughter of Banu Athaiya told PTI “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,”. She also informed that the last rites took place at the Chandanwadi crematorium in South Mumbai.

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’. 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, Banu Athaiya won two National Awards – for Gulzar’s mystery drama ‘Lekin’ (1990) and the period film ‘Lagaan’ directed by Ashutosh Gowariker (2001). Tributes are pouring in from all parts of the country and the world for this legendary achiever in Indian cinema.

India’s first Oscar winner #bhanuathaiya is no more. You been a guiding light, when nobody even heard of the Oscars you won it for us, you been an inspiration … May your soul Rest In Peace… It’s a huge loss for me personally and @TheAcademy #RIPBhanuAthaiya pic.twitter.com/316wly10S4

— resul pookutty (@resulp) October 15, 2020

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