The world took note when iconic costume designer Bhanu Athaiya returned her award to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) in Los Angeles last week. Close on its heels, Oscar winners AR Rahman and Resul Pookutty highlight the need for national recognition for her achievements, who 30 years after her historical win, has still not received any recognition from the Indian government.
Resul Pookutty says:
“It is a pity that we had to let go of Bhanuji’s Oscar which is the first that this country won. The question arises how do you safeguard something so precious? I have kept my Oscar in a bank vault. That way I am assured it is safe.
But if a situation arises in the future where I think I will be unable to care for my trophy, I may also have to return it. Let’s hope in my lifetime, we are able to have a museum where things pertaining to our film heritage can be preserved. This is also a comment on what we do to our artistes and I can understand what Bhanuji must have felt.
This is a reflection of how we are not in the habit of preserving our legacy. For the filmmaking community the Oscar is a symbol of outstanding achievement in the area of art. It is as good as the Nobel Prize. It is a shame that we do not have a system to preserve our film related heritage. As per the rules of the AMPAS you are supposed to return your Oscar to them if you feel you are unable to take care of it. So there is nothing wrong with what Bhanuji has done.
I blame the Maharashtra government for not recognising the magnitude of her contribution to cinema. Isn’t this the state where Indian cinema took birth? It is also the state where some people vociferously espouse the son-of-the-soil theory and Bhanuji is a Maharashtrian. Bhanuji is a great technician and I think her contribution should be recognised with the Dadasaheb Phalke Award.”
“Yes, it is high time to honour her. I guess Bhanuji’s decision is a statement to emphasise the need to archive artistic treasures. It’s a whole effort. We must engage seriously. It’s sad to hear that many classic film negatives and recordings have been improperly maintained and lost.”