Bhanu made waves globally – Zeenat Aman 


Bhanu made waves globally – Zeenat Aman

~ Bharat through the lens of Bhanu Athaiya exhibit currently on at The Aguad~

Panaji December 2023: The exhibition to explore the career of Bhanu Athaiya, the creative genius, and costume designer par excellence currently on at The Aguad witnessed an interactive evening between Sujata Assomull and Zeenat Aman along with Bhanu’s daughter Radhika Gupta.


‘The Prinseps Exhibition: Bharat through the lens of Bhanu Athaiya’, curated by Brijeshwari Kumari Gohil aims to draw attention to the legacy of Bhanu Athaiya and her contribution over six decades to the world of art and cinema. It narrates this story by exploring India, the landscape and travels that inspired her art and design journey.

As part of the exhibition, a discussion, Breaking Stereotypes, a discussion with Zeenat Aman moderated by Sujata Assomull took place. The discussion at Aguad, had stylists, artists, designers and art lovers. Zeenat Aman discussed her experience working with Bhanu Athaiya, creating and being part of iconic looks from Satyam Shivam Sundaram to Shalimar. She touched upon the role of a costume designer at the time, how it has transformed over the years.


Guests attending included actor Pooja Bedi, media powerhouses Namrata Zakaria, Nandini Bhalla, Art curator and critic, Gayatri Sinha was also present who will be giving a talk on the 16th of December, at Aguad.


Zeenat Aman, says: ‘With her innate style, scrupulous work ethic, and inimitable creativity, Bhanu made waves globally. Prinseps’ work towards documenting and preserving her legacy is invaluable to India’s cultural heritage.’

Sujata Assomull, added: ‘Bhanu Athaiya was one of Indian cinema’s true stars. No other costume designer has had her longevity. She is considered Indian cinema’s first Bollywood designer.  Working with a range of directors  from Raj Kapoor, Guru Dutta and BR Chopra to Vijay Anand, Yash Chopra and. Ashutosh Gowariker. There was Richard Attenborough and her Oscar win for Gandhi was a proud moment for India. She understood how clothes could tell stories- and while her costumes were always led by the narrative, she also set the fashion agenda with her designs. If you look at modern Indian silhouettes such as the concept sari, the kurti and the sarong, their roots all come from Athaiya’s body of work.’


Radhika Gupta, daughter of Bhanu Athaiya said: ‘My mother…”An Unputdownable Lady !!” Her inspirational childhood, continued self-study and hard work combined with her immense talent and passion for creativity led to a pathbreaking career in a male-dominated industry that had no women technicians in the 50s.’


Indrajit Chatterjee, Founder of Prinseps, says: ‘It has taken us close to two years to collate, document, and create the initial exhibit of the estate of Bhanu Athaiya. Bhanu was the first woman to win a gold medal at the JJ School, the only woman member of the progressives and the first Indian to win an Oscar. The estate includes her early years in Kolhapure with her family, her JJ School & Progressives Artists Group Period, and six decades of her subsequent costume design period. There were a few discoveries in this process – importantly her JJ School Gold Medal, many Artworks earlier thought to be lost, and important costume designs and sketchbooks. This is the first of such exhibitions and just scratches the surface in terms of her oeuvre. We hope these exhibitions will be useful to researchers, scholars, and art enthusiasts alike.’

Brijeshwari Kumari Gohil, Vice-President of Prinseps, adds: ‘researching and curating this exhibition has been an enriching and gratifying experience. Bhanu Athaiya was a pioneer of costume design who has simply not been given the due considering how important her role was in shaping Indian fashion. Prinseps has always aimed to add value to the world of art and culture and this exhibition is yet another testimony to our endeavours. Befitting a permanent museum, this exhibition will indeed be a treat for art and fashion lovers!.’

The exhibition will be open at The Aguad till the 1st of January, 2024.

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