'Gandhi' Oscar returned to Academy

Dec. 15, 2012 at 11:56 AM

MUMBAI, Dec. 15 (UPI) -- Bhanu Athaiya, the first Indian to win an Oscar -- for costume design on 1982's "Gandhi" -- said she returned her statuette to the Academy for safekeeping.

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.

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