First Oscar Winner in India: Did You Know when and who won first Oscar from India?


When you talk about Oscar winners in India, you cannot skip the name Bhanu Athaiya, the famous costume designer of the 80s who became the first Indian Oscar winner in the year 1983. She received the prestigious award for her costumes in the 1982 movie “Gandhi”.

Born on April 28, 1929, in Kohlapur, Bhanu made her Bollywood debut in the year 1956 with Raj Khosla’s “CID”. She then went on to design costumes for hundred other films like “Pyaasa”, “Guide”, “Lagaan”, “Swades”, among many others. She worked with great names of the film industry including Yash Chopra, Ashutosh Gowariker, B.R. Chopra, Raj Khosla, and Guru Dutt.

Bhanu Athaiya was not always a costume designer. She started her career as a fashion illustrator for various magazines in Mumbai and only then did she climb the success ladder of a costume designer!

She designed costumes for the last time in the year 2015 for the movie “Nagrik”, after which she succumbed to brain tumor. She had earlier returned her Oscar to the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences in Los Angeles when she came to know of her ailment, to keep her award safe.

While not everyone knows that Oscar has not been her only prized possession. She also was a recipient of the National Award for costume design twice, for the movies “Lekin” (1991), and “Lagaan” (2001). She also received her Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in the year 2009.

Apart from her, the famous Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray received an Honorary Academy Award in the year 1992 at the 64th Academy Awards for his excellent contribution to motion pictures. He was the first Indian who had received the first Honorary Oscar.

Ray has not only won the Oscar Award but has a total of 36 national awards and international film awards under his name. He bagged the honorable prize for his excellent contribution to Indian cinema at the 11th Moscow International Film Festival in the year 1979.

He also dons an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, the second film personality to be bestowed with this after Charlie Chaplin! From being called the “Greatest Bengali of all time” to being listed No. 7 in the top 10 directors of all time, Satyajit Ray is a legend in the history of Indian cinema.

Coming down to the scientific and technical awards, Rahul Thakkar and Indian-American origin computer graphics technician, Cottalango Leon received Academy Award for Technical Achievement in 2016.

In a similar vein, Vikas Sathaye received the Oscar for Technical Achievement in 2018.

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