Pinki has a reason not to smile right now. The child protagonist of Oscar-winning documentary Smile Pinki, who shot to international fame after she attended the Academy Awards in Los Angeles earlier this year, has been frantically trying to get the authorities to keep their promise of turning her village in Uttar Pradesh into a model village.
Leading a group of locals from her native village Rampur Dabai in Mirzapur district, some 300 km from Lucknow, Pinki has visited different government offices in the past week to enquire about the status of welfare schemes announced earlier this year.
Pinki's uncle Ram Sakal told IANS on phone: "She (Pinki) along with other villagers has been running from pillar to post to get the welfare schemes implemented at the earliest."
"Even as Pinki now lives in Lucknow, her association with the village and the desire to do something constructive for the villagers have prompted her to meet the officials and remind them about the promises made for the development of the village."
According to villagers, the authorities in Mirzapur had said they would develop Rampur Dabai as a model village after Smile Pinki won the Oscar.
Smile Pinki is a 39-minute documentary made by Megan Mylan that shows the story of a poor girl in rural India whose life is transformed when she receives free surgery to correct her cleft lip. The documentary was made in Hindi and Bhojpuri and won the 81st Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject).
A few months ago Pinki left her native village after the authorities of the Lucknow Public Schools and Colleges (LPSC) decided to impart free education to her and enrolled her at one of their school branches in Hardoi district, some 110 km from Lucknow.
"Most of the assurances that were made for developing our village are still to be fulfilled," said Siddhnath Singh, a Panchayat member.
"The promises made on setting up a junior high school, a community centre, electrification and solving the water crisis are all yet to the fulfilled," he added.
"We feel the girl (Pinki), who has now become an international figure, will definitely have an impact on government officials for execution of development schemes," said Siddhnath Singh.
Chief development officer V. Ram of Mirzapur said the authorities were trying their best to develop Pinki's village as a model village.
"She put the name of the village on the international map. Serious efforts would be made so that the village gets its desired share," said Ram.