Why Bhanu Athaiya wants to return her Oscar

India’s first Oscar winner, Bhanu Athaiya, who got the coveted award for costume design for the Richard Attenborough directed film Gandhi in 1983, wants to return the trophy to the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

Athaiya has designed costumes for over a hundred films across six decades, including CID, Pyaasa, Chaudhvin Ka Chand, Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, Guide and many others but the cherry on the cake was undoubtedly the Oscar, which had the whole nation rooting for her.

In this interview with Sonil Dedhia, the 83-year-old doyenne of costume designing explains why she wants to return the trophy and what it takes to be a winner.

Why did you want to return your Oscar to the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences?

I brought the first Oscar to India and it has been with me for the last 30 years. It’s time that I take the Oscar to the Academy for safekeeping. I plan to hand it over myself so that it stays safe. I have seen many other Oscar winners returning their Oscar statuettes.

Don’t you think your family will be able to take care of it?

People may mishandle the trophy so it’s best to return it to the Academy. 

My family may be interested in keeping my Oscar but the Academy will go on forever. Many others have handed their Oscars to the Academy. I don’t find anything wrong with that. I see continuity in it. It will live forever.

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