Bhanumathi Annasaheb Rajopadhyay, better known as Bhanu Athaiya, the renowned costume designer of many films including Richard Attenborugh’s Gandhi (1983) died today after a prolonged illness for quite some time. She had slight fever and cough and was taking antibiotics and it was after she suffered from pneumonia, that she had passed away in her sleep.
The lady, who was India’s first Oscar award recipient for the film Gandhi had worked with several directors including Guru Dutt, Yash Chopra, B.R. Chopra, Gulzar, Raj Kapoor, Prakash Mehta, Conrad Rooks and Vijay Anand, was staying in Colaba in Mumbai at the time of death. Having started, her career as a costume designer with Guru Dutt’s film C.I.D which was actually her debut film, she had designed the costumes for his films like Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, Pyaasa, Johny Mera Naam, Ek Duuje Ke Liye and Chaudhvin Ka Chand. Bhanu had been the costume designer for films like Teesri Manzil,Kagaz Ke Phool, Guide, Waqt, Razia Sultan, Karz, 1942 – A Love StoryRam Teri Ganga Maili, Agneepath, Hero Heeralal, Lekin, Chandni, Hera Pheri and Mr Natwarlal too.
The veteran who defined the aesthetics of Hindi cinema through her prolific work, created some of Bollywood’s best remembered looks, including Vyjayantihmala in Amrapaali, Waheeda Rehman in Guide and Zeenat Aman in Satyam Shivam Sundaram. Athaiya shared her Oscar with her British counterpart John Mollo and continued to be the only Indian to hold the title for 26 years. Not many are aware of the fact that in December 2012, she had returned her Oscar to the Academy following a health scare after she was diagnosed with brain tumour, for safekeeping.
Born on 28 April, 1929, in Kolhapur, the young Bhanumathi graduated in fine arts from Sir JJ School of Art, Mumbai. She was a gold medallist and fellowship winner.While she had worked for over 100 films including Ashutosh Gowarikar’s films like Lagaan in 2001 and Swades way back in 2004, almost two decades ago. Bhanu Athaiya’s last film as a costume designer was the Sachin Khedekar starrer Nagrik, (2015) which was released in 2014. After refusing to go for her treatment for brain tumor in 2012, she was struck with a bout of paralysis around three years ago after which she cpould not even walk. Bhanuji was cremated at Chandanwadi this morning according to her daughter Radhika Gupta.
It is indeed very sad but 100 per cent true that though costumes have a huge role in making a film look real and believable, most of the Indian filmmakers have never given due importance to it and nowadays the trend is to just go shopping abroad and put things together and at the launch of the book The Art of Costume Design, published by Harper Collins,Bhanu had gone on record that it was not the correct thing to do.
We at bollyy.com and Mayapuri pray God to let her soul rest in peace