Hollywood stars like Meryl Streep and Brad Pitt were floored by the little kids who featured in Danny Boyle's Oscar winning Slumdog Millionaire, says Loveleen Tandon, the film's co-director.
Rubina Ali, Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail and Tanay Cheda were the cynosure of all eyes at the Oscars ceremony last week. Streep, mother of four in real life, simply smothered the children in genuine affection.
"That inner beauty which poets talk about... I saw it for the first time on Meryl's face. She's the most fantastic actress and the most gorgeous woman I've set my eyes on. And now after seeing how she conducted herself with the kids, I'd say she's the epitome of grace," Tandon told IANS.
"One of our kids Tanay, who played the little Jamal, is very clued into the Hollywood-Oscars crowds. He had his autograph book out and ready for Meryl. When Tanay asked her for an autograph, Meryl turned around and said, 'Why just you? I'm going to give my autograph to all you adorable kids.'
"She signed her name over and handed them over to the kids with such grace and warmth. I guess that's what legends are made of. Such beauty," Tandon said.
Brad Pitt was another star whose amazement at the little wonders from Slumdog Millionaire couldn't be hidden.
"When we were walking up to the stage Anil Kapoor, Irrfan Khan and all had already gone up. I got left a little behind making sure that all the kids were walking up. That's when Brad Pitt saw us. The moment he saw the kids, he stood up from his seat and kept looking at them, smiling and clapping until we walked all the way to the stage.
"The kids created magic that evening... Never in my wildest dreams did I think that those kids would one day not just walk the red carpet with Meryl and Brad, they would also make fans out of these Hollywood giants," said Tandon.
Although Tanay was familiar with Hollwyood stars, Rubina and Azharuddin had no idea who Streep was when they walked past her on the Oscar red carpet. It was Tandon who had to explain to them the magnitude of the glam parade.
"Each time the paparazzi and bystanders would start clicking and cheering the kids would turn to me and say, 'Yeh star hai?' And I'd say, 'Hai. Lekin tumhare jaise itna bada star nahin (Yes, they are stars but not as big as you).' The biggest Hollywood stars walked up to our kids to congratulate them," said Tandon.
Slumdog Millionaire triumphed at the Oscars by winning eight golden statuettes.