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Pinki’s tale fetches Oscar for Mylan

— PHOTO: AP

WITH A MESSAGE: Pinki along with Dr. Subodh K. Singh (left), father Rajendra Sonkar (behind) and director and producer Megan Mylan of the documentary ‘Smile Pinki’, arrive for the 81st Academy Awards ceremony.

Los Angeles/Varanasi: “Smile Pinki,” the tale of a little girl from Uttar Pradesh and her fight against the social stigma that a cleft-lip could bring, won the Oscar award for Best Documentary (Short). Directed by Emmy-award winning Megan Mylan, it was shot in Mirzapur and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh.

An elated Mylan thanked the eight-year-old girl, who previously could not smile due to her cleft-lip and was teased as “othkatti” (one with a cut lip), for letting her tell the story. “Thank you Pinki. Thank you for letting me tell your incredible story,” said Mylan, accepting the Oscar.

Pinki then underwent a simple surgery with the help of social workers that almost changed her life.

Mylan thanked the NGO Smile Train, which funded the surgery and Pinki’s trip to Los Angeles to attend the ceremony. Mylan thanked Dr. Subodh K. Singh, who performed the surgery.

“Smile Pinki” edged past “The Final Inch,” which was also shot in India and documents the struggle of anti-polio workers as they travel from village to village to administer polio drops under the polio eradication programme.

Mylan on Monday hoped that the success of “Smile Pinki” would bring light to the lives of four million children who face a similar plight. Mylan said she felt happy and fortunate that her real story of the plight of cleft-lip children got due recognition. “This is the happiest moment of my life, as I could transform the life of a small child from a little known wonderful place and even win an Oscar for that cause,” the producer-director said.

Dr. Subodh Singh said: “I’m very excited and happy that “Smile Pinki” has been chosen for… [the] Oscar awards.” He added over the phone from Los Angeles: “Pinki’s life has been totally transformed and now she has accepted her new life. People across the world and specially in India will now better understand the plight of such children,”

On Pinki’s surgery, Dr. Subodh Singh said: “This was a sort of dream-come-true for Pinki and her family, as this simple surgery... was a distant dream for poor folk like her, who had no money to correct the deformity.”

The success of “Smile Pinki” will create awareness about this congenital anomaly among the public and health agencies across the world, said the doctor.

This change in the fortune of Pinki could only happen due to the efforts of Pankaj, a social worker travelling village to village to help such needy children through the NGO.

The 39-minute documentary was shot in Pinki’s village and the G.S. Memorial Plastic Surgery Hospital in Varanasi where Pinki underwent the surgery. — PTI

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