New Delhi, Feb 21 (Calcutta Tube) ‘The Art Of Costume Design’, the book by designer Bhanu Athaiya, was released by filmmaker Kumar Shahani at The Ashok Hotel here Friday evening and has been recommended by Richard Attenborough. Athaiya, the first Indian to win an Oscar for designing costumes for the film ‘Gandhi‘, has written the book on her journey in the film world.
[ReviewAZON asin=”B000KX0IOA” display=”inlinepost”]Attenborough, in a message from London, said ‘it was important to document the landmark work done by someone with such knowledge, vision and passion’.
He recommended the book to film lovers, filmmakers and designers.
Recalling his association with Athaiya, Attenborough said: ‘It took me 17 long years to set up ‘Gandhi’, my dream film, and 15 minutes to make up my mind that Bhanu Athaiya was the right person to create the many hundreds of Indian costumes that would be required to bring it to the screen.’
The book, divided into nine chapters, spans the designer’s early days in Kolhapur, arrival in Mumbai, her meetings with Raj Kapoor and Guru Dutt, the magic of jewellery in movies, trend-setting costumes and the awards and accolades won by the designer.
‘I was born in a 300-year-old ancestral house in the heart of Kolhapur. My family belonged to a learned Pandit lineage. The family book traces my ancestors’ history to 2,000 years,’ Athaiya writes.
Athaiya began her career in costume design in 1953. Over the next 56 years, she built an extraordinary body of work that defined the aesthetics of costume design in Hindi cinema.
She gave Waheeda Rehman the iconic look in ‘Guide’, dressed Mumtaz in ‘Brahmachari’ and Zeenat Aman in ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’. She has a repertoire of 130 films and has worked with filmmakers like Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutt, B.R. Chopra, Yash Chopra, Dev Anand and Ashutosh Gowariker among others.
In the book, Athaiya recounts her life story and her deep passion for creativity in design – taking the reader on a fascinating journey, beginning with the classic look of the black and white era, moving to the age of technicolour typified by box-office hits like ‘Sangam’, ‘Ganga Jumna’ and ‘Waqt’; and then to her more contemporary work in ‘Lagaan’ and ‘Swades’.
Recalling her association with Raj Kapoor, Athaiya writes: ‘One day Nargis decided to take me to R.K. Studio to introduce me to Raj Kapoor. We travelled to Chembur in her car. As we entered the spacious studio, the first thing I noticed was a huge Shiva statue. Then the car took a left turn and moved towards a small cottage, which was Raj-saab’s private cottage. At that time, work on ‘Shri 420′ was in progress and I was asked to design costumes for actress Nadira, who was playing a vamp…I gave her an unconventional look.’
It marked the beginning of her long association with Raj Kapoor.
The book culminates in the story of the Oscar for the costume design of ‘Gandhi’.
Athaiya’s work has been shown at the Festival of India, New York, and she has received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the South Asian International Film Festival in 2005. She was honoured with the Filmfare Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.
After her formative years in Kolhapur, Athaiya graduated from the J.J. School of Arts, Mumbai, where she won a gold medal. Later she went to France to study art, culture and cinema.