The Mumbai-based filmmaker said she does not trust anyone in India to keep the award safe, The Hollywood Reporter reported Friday.
If [acclaimed Indian writer and poet] Rabindranath Tagore's Nobel medal could be stolen from [Tagore's hometown] Shantiniketan, what is the guarantee my trophy would be safe?" Athaiya said in a statement. "In India, no one values such things, and we lack a tradition of maintaining our heritage and things pertaining to our culture. In the past, many Oscar winners have returned their trophies for safekeeping with the Academy such as eight-time Oscar-winning costume designer Edith Head, among others."
The Academy also accepted papers and photographs related to the work on "Gandhi" by Athaiya, 86, who is undergoing treatment for a potentially life-threatening brain tumor.
"... We are in the process of creating the finest motion picture museum in the world, and I'm certain it [Athaiya's statuette] will find a place to be displayed there," Scott Miller, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences assistant general counsel and managing director of administration, said in an email to Athaiya.