Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, India’s first Oscar winner for the film, Gandhi, dies after a prolonged illness, says her daughter. She shared her win with her British counterpart John Mollo and continued to be the only Indian to hold the title for 26 years. Although AR Rahman, Resul Pookutty, and Gulzar also won the Oscar later, she is still the only Indian woman to win an Oscar to date.
Athaiya returned her Oscar in December 2012 to the Academy following a health scare after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor.
She felt that the Academy would be the safest place for her trophy to remain in perpetuity after she is gone.
Athaiya also won two National Film Awards for her work in Lekin and Lagaan.