Costume Queen

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Bhanu Athaiya
Bhanu Athaiya
Age: 83
Profession: Costume designer and artist
Secret quirks: Cannot live without her hairbands. Prefers watching TV to partying. Enjoys experimenting with food when she’s abroad Photo: Himmat Singh Shekhawat

FROM CID to Gandhi and Lagaan, Bhanu Athaiya has designed costumes for some of the most visually arresting films of the last six decades. Amazingly, the country’s first Oscar award winner continues to lead a hectic life. She is currently designing for Marathi film Swarajya, writing a book on her career and preparing to exhibit her canvases in Mumbai next year.

“I make it a point to always give my best shot,” says Athaiya. She attributes her success to her father Annasaheb Rajopadhye who died when she was 10. “He influenced me through his love of art and culture. I owe him all the credit for what I am today. He painted in the British Academic style and I would wash all his brushes,” says Athaiya who enjoys “simple vegetarian food”, avoids late nights and watches the BBC to relax. If she has one eccentricity it’s her penchant for wearing her hair in pig tails. “It’s such a habit that even when I go for get-togethers I forget to untie them!” she laughs.