Oscar winner Bhanu Athaiya demands apology from Tahiliani’s counsel

Updated: Jul 07, 2010, 20:21 PM IST

Spicezee Bureau

Mumbai: India’s first Oscar Award winner Bhanu Athaiya has expressed her ire against Tarun Tahiliani’s senior counsel, Mr Percy Pardiwala and demanded an apology. In a press release, the Costume Designer, stated, “I am Bhanu Athaiya, Costume Designer for Cinema."

"I brought to India its first Oscar Award for Lord Richard Attenborough’s epic film, ‘Gandhi’ in 1983. I held the distinction of being the only Indian to receive the award for a record 26 years. I am also a two time National Award winner," she wrote in the release.

“Less than a month ago, the fashion world and media alike were abuzz with the case of Fashion Designer Tarun Tahiliani seeking Income Tax exemption under section 80RR of the Income Tax Act that is offered against the Category of ‘Artists’. The court accepted his Counsel’s argument that a Fashion Designer is an Artist and is therefore eligible for tax exemption under the abovementioned section,” she wrote.

“According to an article that appeared in the DNA newspaper dated Saturday June 12, 2010, by journalist Mayura Janwalkar, the court referred to me, questioning: ‘…whether a person like Bhanu Athaiya, the first Indian to win an Academy award for costume designing for the film Gandhi, would still be entitled to an exemption even though it was for a Hollywood film’? The same newspaper further reported that: ‘Tahiliani`s counsel argued that the person who stitches a dress is not an artist, but the one who conceptualises it certainly is.’

So, essentially, I was defined and referred to as being nothing more than a tailor by the respected senior counsel of Mr. Tahiliani, Mr. Percy Pardiwala while Tahiliani, who refers to himself as a Fashion Designer, was defined as an ‘artist’ and a ‘conceptualiser’,” Ms Athaiya stated.

“What was even more shocking was that the eminent presiding judge, Justice DY Chandrachud seemed to have accepted this wholly and utterly wrong and presumptuous definition of a Costume Designer. Make no mistake, I am not against the Court’s Ruling. In fact, it is a beneficial one and will certainly benefit me as well, being a trained artist myself besides being an Oscar-winning Costume Designer for cinema for around 50 years. My objection is to what Tahiliani’s counsel Pardiwala alluded about my profession, and therefore me, that a Costume Designer is a ‘mere tailor’,” Ms Athaiya further wrote.

She laid down three points to bring to the attention of the media and public:

1. I consider what Tahiliani’s senior counsel, Mr. Percy Pardiwala said about my profession as defamation. It would therefore be appropriate for him to issue me an apology for the disrespect shown to my profession and therefore my identity and work, since there was a clear reference made to me in the court during one of the proceedings.

2. It would also be good on the part of the media to un-do the harm done to me by the reports published earlier by now presenting my side of this story. This will clear any doubts anyone has about the role of a Costume Designer in these confused times and will re-build my faith in the goodness of the media.

3. I would like to know how the esteemed Justice DY Chandrachud, who knows me personally, is aware of my work and my background, accepted Tahiliani’s Counsel’s argument that ‘the person who stitches a dress is not an artist, but the one who conceptualises it certainly is.’

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