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MUMBAI: Costume designer Bhanu Athaiya, the first Indian to win an Oscar, passed away in Mumbai on Thursday aged 91, the Press Trust of India reported, citing her daughter. Athaiya, who won an Academy Award for her work in Richard Attenborough's 1982 epic "Gandhi", had a prolific career in India, working on some 200 films, including Bollywood classics such as 1965's "Guide" and 1980's "Karz" ("Debt").

A trained fashion illustrator, she began designing costumes for films in the 1950s, later telling the Indian Express daily that she saw her career as "a way to express myself and let my imagination soar". By the time Attenborough was ready to make his magnum opus, Athaiya had already made a mark in the Hindi film industry, working with some of its top stars including Hema Malini and Mumtaz.