Bharat through the lens of Bhanu Athaiya: A recap

'Bharat through the lens of Bhanu Athaiya' celebrates the doyenne of costume design Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya, and her exemplary vision of India. The exhibit delved into the essence of India embodied by Bhanu's iconic costume designs crafted for Indian cinema. A trailblazer in defining the aesthetics of a new India through her creations, Bhanu left an indelible mark on cinema.

Her remarkable work graced films like Amrapali, Waqt, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, Sangam, Gandhi, Lagaan, Swades, and more. An extension and continuation of the first Bhanu Athaiya exhibit shedding light on Bhanu's artistic and cinematic achievements in Delhi, the exhibit in Goa aimed to rediscover the roots of India through the eyes of a visionary costume designer Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya. 

Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya (b. 1929) was born in her 300-year-old sprawling ancestral house in the heart of Kolhapur. Bhanu grew up surrounded by indigenous and western political, social and cultural influences. Her ability to translate all this information into the medium of cinema and art made her the first Indian ever to win an Oscar. Bhanu Athaiya is not only recognised as the revered doyenne of Indian costume designers; but also a remarkable modernist artist.

Reflecting on the exhibit's focal point, a compelling conversation emerged, centered on dismantling stereotypes in cinema. Zeenat Aman, a style icon and actor, nostalgically revisits and reimagines herself in the meticulously crafted ensembles by Bhanu Athaiya. Beyond being mere fashion statements, these creations stand as formidable declarations, boldly challenging societal norms. In the world of Hindi Cinema, Zeenat Aman and Bhanu Athaiya emerge as pioneers who gracefully dismantled stereotypes. Zeenat’s fearless on-screen presence in films like ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ challenged conventional beauty norms. Bhanu, the visionary costume designer, played a pivotal role in this revolution, crafting ensembles that echoed individuality.

Zeenat Aman reflects on the visionary costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, highlighting her meticulous research skills and unwavering commitment to authenticity evident in every costume she created. Be it Shalimar, Satyam Shivam Sundaram, or Alibaba aur 40 Chor, each costume was uniquely crafted, showcasing Bhanu Athaiya’s exceptional versatility. Radhika Gupta, Bhanu Athaiya's daughter joined the panel and enlightened us about Bhanu Athaiya's childhood influences, her dedication to her work and her unceasing desire to learn and create. 

Click here to watch the video - Breaking Stereotypes: In conversation with Zeenat Aman.

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