The Bhanu Athaiya Estate

India’s first Oscar winner, Bhanu Athaiya was born in Kolhapur, Maharashtra, in the year 1929. Bhanu came to Mumbai as a teenager to learn painting at the JJ School of Arts. She went on to become the only woman to be invited to and join the Progressive Artists’ Group and the first woman to win the prestigious Usha Deshmukh Gold Medal in 1951 for the artwork titled 'Lady In Repose'.

Over the years she contributed to Indian art, fashion, and design, and along the way paved the road for many talented designers. Bhanu’s creative oeuvre led her to go on to contribute as a fashion illustrator at Eve’s Weekly, following which she found her calling as a costume designer.

Her body of work spans years of intense research and passionate creativity. Bhanu’s costumes brought life to the characters on screen, which eventually went on to inspire Indian fashion. She worked on numerous films since the 1950s, with noted filmmakers like Guru Dutt, Yash Chopra, Raj Kapoor, Ashutosh Gowarikar, winning several national awards for costumes in Lekin, Lagaan and Swades.

In 1983 she won the Oscar for Best Costume Design for Richard Attenborough's Gandhi, making her the first Indian to bring home this honour. Her contributions to Indian art and cinema continue to inspire costume and fashion designers even today.

Bhanu Athaiya’s Estate includes old family photographs, historic sarees made of real gold and silver craftsmanship, which she was fortunate to inherit. Diaries and preparatory material, which shows how thorough her work was. Paintings created by her prior to joining JJ School of Arts, paintings while she studied. These include watercolours, technical sketches and drawings as well as some very rare oil paintings.

The Estate also includes over five hundred ornate, glamorous costume and fashion sketches, which Bhanu painstakingly created for various movies, shows, theatre acts as well as over a thousand actual costumes pieces comprising of studies, spares, costumes worn in the movies, etc collected over a span of many decades. An important historical archive befitting a museum.

Any questions?