Smile Pinky and The Final Inch, with Indian cast and foreign directors, are among the four short documentary films nominated by the Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences.
While Danny Boyle’s film, Slumdog Millionaire, that won 10 Academy nominations, is a saga of rags-to-riches, these documentaries depict how individuals make a difference in India’s fight against diseases.
Smile Pinky, a Bhojpuri-Hindi documentary, is about seven-year-old Pinky, daughter of daily-wager Rajendra Sonkar and Shimla Devi of Rampur Dahaba in Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh.
The 39-minute flick, directed by Megan Mylan of the Lost Boys of Sudan-fame, showed how Pinky, who was an outcast in her village because of her cleft of lip-palate, got her smile back after a team of medico-social workers corrected her deformity through surgery.
“Before I could ring Megan to congratulate her, she rang me up to say that we’ll grab the Oscar via Pinky’s smile,” said Dr Subodh Singh, a young plastic surgeon of Varanasi, whose team performed 13,000-plus cleft surgeries since April 2004, including on Pinky.
Dr Singh’s GS Memorial Plastic Surgery and Trauma Care Hospital last month gifted Pinky an almirah of books, Pinky Ka Pustakalay, making her the youngest librarian in the world.
The Final Inch, a film about the global fight against polio, is about Munzareen Fatima and Dr Ashfaq Bhat’s travels all over the state and their detection that polio was re-emerging among Muslims. “This is a great day as more people will see that polio is still a disease affecting the world’s poor,” said Emmy award winners Irene Taylor Broadsky and Tom Grant, who made the film.
Meanwhile, Pinky’s family is becoming aware of their daughter’s celebrity status after the first screening of Smile Pinky at the International Documentary Film Festival in June last year.
Recently, Pinky’s illness and the family’s poverty brought none other than the tehsildar (a local revenue officer) to the Sonkars’ shanty with one bagful of rice and Rs 1,500, said Pinky’s father.