Bhanu Athaiya, India's first Oscar winner, has passed away at the age of 91

Reputed Costume Designer Bhanu Athaiya, who is India's first Oscar winner, has passed away at the age of 91 on Thursday at her residence in Mumbai due to age-related ailments. She was active nearly for five decades during which she had earned national and international fame for her work in historical movies. 

According to PTI, Bhanu's daughter Radhika Gupta said that the Oscar winner had passed away peacefully in her sleep in the early morning hours of Thursday. Gupta said that her mother was diagnosed with a tumor in her brain eight years ago and for the last three years, she was confined to bed because one side of her body was paralyzed. 

Born in Kolhapur in 1929, Bhanu Athaiya has become the first Indian to win the Oscars after she was conferred with the Academy Award for Best Costume Design in Richard Attenborough directorial 'Gandhi', which was a biopic of Mahatma Gandhi and released in 1983. She started her career as a costume designer at Hindi Cinema with Guru Dutt's superhit movie 'C.I.D' in 1956 and she was active till 2004. 

Gandhi's biopic has etched in history for pouring more Oscars to India as the movie went on to win eight awards including Athaiya's award for her costume design. Athaiya had also worked with some of the reputed filmmakers including Yash Chopra and apart from winning the Oscars, she also had won two national awards for 'Lekin' - Gulzar's mystery drama that was released in 1990 and Aamir Khan starrer 'Lagaan' directed by Ashutosh Gowariker in 2001. 

In 2012, Bhanu Athaiya had returned her Oscar to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for safekeeping. In what was a rare event, she said that she doesn't have any regrets to give her award back to the Academy. She had worried about the safety of the award and gave it back for safekeeping. 

By citing that many Oscar winners in the past have returned their award, she said it is a tradition with the Academy. Many times, she had expressed her concern on how the Indian movie industry is treating the costume department and she had voiced that the filmmakers hadn't given proper importance to costume and designers. In a career spanning for five decades, Bhanu Athaiya had worked in over 100 films and she has now left a vacuum in the costume department. 

After the news of her demise was headlined, condolences have been pouring in from people whose lives she touched. Bollywood star Aamir Khan, who worked with the deceased Oscar winner in 'Lagaan', had paid his tribute. 

Taking to Twitter, Khan said, "Bhanuji was one of those film people who beautifully combined accurate research and cinematic flair to bring to life the director's vision. You will be missed Bhanuji. My heartfelt condolences to the family". According to reports, the last rites had taken place at the Chandanwadi crematorium in South Mumbai.