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Bhanu Athaiya

The Art of Costume Design

HarperCollins 2010

New Books in ArtNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in South Asian StudiesNew Books Network May 1, 2011 Dhara Anjaria

Bollywood, the Hindustani film genre based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), has long been known for its lavish costumes and sets. Now comes a sumptuous...

Bollywood, the Hindustani film genre based in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), has long been known for its lavish costumes and sets. Now comes a sumptuous book from a master costume designer, and the first ever Indian to win an Oscar, Bhanu Rajopadhye Athaiya. Her The Art of Costume Design (New Delhi: Harper Collins, 2010), explores in lavish detail all the components that make a Bollywood movie so visually arresting–the clothes, the fabrics, the make up, even the jewellery without which no Indian outfit is ever complete.

It is impossible, in this book, to tell where the personal leaves off and the professional begins, because Bhanu Athaiya’s life and career have been intertwined with the Indian film industry from the early colour movies of the 1950s, down to Gandhi (1982) and Lagaan (2001). In this richly illustrated work she profiles some of the most challenging films she has worked on, giving the reader a superb insight into the work that goes into creating an authentic ‘look’ to a film, be it a period film or a more contemporary flick – indeed, creating the ‘modern’ look for films in an urban setting often demanded the most work from her. Interspersed are anecdotes about her collaboration with all of Bollywood’s biggest stars and filmmakers. Listen to Bhanu Athaiya discuss her life and work.