Bhanu Athaiya

Bhanu Athaiya

Bhanu Athaiya (born 28 April 1929 – and died on 15 October 2020) was both an Indian costume designer and painter. She was the only group member as a woman of the Bombay Progressive Artists Group. Alongside being Bollywood’s most iconic and unique costume designer, she had a record of a historically important early career as an artist with several contemporaries like M. F. Husain, F. N. Souza, Vasudev S. Gaitonde, and many more. Two of Bhanu Rajopadhyay’s artworks were included in the year of 1953 Progressive Artists’ Group showed in Bombay [Maharashtra].

Personal life and Career

Athaiya was born in a Brahmin family in Kolhapur [Maharashtra] India. She was the third in a family of a total of seven children. Bhanu’s father, Anna Saheb was a self-taught artist and also a photographer who worked in the Bollywood films of Baburao Painter. He died when Athiya was at the age of only 11 years.

She studied at Sir J School of Art, in Mumbai, where she won the Usha Deshmukh Gold medal in the year of 1951 for her artwork.

She chose her career as an artist in Mumbai while she was still studying at JJ School of Art. Later she became a member of the Progressive Artists’ Group in Bombay. She continued her part-time as a freelancer of fashion illustrator like “Eve’s Weekly” and “Fashion & Beauty” especially women’s magazines she asked Bhanu to try designing dresses, hereupon she also discovered many flairs for designing clothes.

Martial Status

Bhanu married a lyricist and poet, Satyendra Athaiya, in the year of 1950s. After she got married in 1959, she changed her name from Bhanumati to Bhanu Athaiya. In 2012, Satyendra died in the year of 2004. Whereas Bhanu was suffering paralysis on one side of the body she was diagnosed with a tumor later and was bed-rested for the last three years of her life. She died on 15 October 2020, in Mumbai at the age of 91, at a medical hospital.  

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