Sunny Pawar, the eight-year-old Mumbai boy who created waves at the Oscar awards ceremony, returned home to a royal welcome on Wednesday morning. Accompanied by his father Dilip Pawar, a former sweeper-turned-son’s business manager, Sunny sat on the trolley stacked high with his luggage as he was wheeled out of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International airport.
Sunny called called on Shiv Sena ‘tiger’ Uddhav Thackeray and his family on Wednesday. Thackeray and son Aditya received the young star and his family at their home, a few hours after he landed in Mumbai, following a grand stage presence at the 89th Academy Awards function in Los Angeles.
The brief welcome and round of felicitation included Thackeray presenting him a large bouquet of flowers and Sunny reciprocating with a small bouquet amid prolonged applause. When Thackeray asked about his favourite actors, Sunny replied: “I adore Ajay Devgn, Rajanikanth and Hrithik Roshan. I love acting.” Sunny and the Thackerays spoke in Hindi as Sunny, of south Indian descent, cannot speak Marathi. Sunny added that he would continue to act. The Thackerays blessed him.
He was accompanied by his entire family including parents Dilip and Vasu, his younger brother and sister, grandparents, uncles and aunts and a retinue of little cousins.
A large number of people cheered and waved even as a battalion of journalists braced for an encounter with the young celeb.
Though appearing a tad weary from the long-haul flight, Sunny was a bundle of energy. He smiled and waved back as bouncers struggled to keep their valuable subject safe from the mobbing crowds.
Some emotional elderly family members and relatives, including his grandfather Bhima Pawar, garlanded him, offered him sweets and blessed him.
The co-star of the acclaimed Hollywood film Lion even took a few quick questions from the media.
“I am very happy and enjoyed attending the Oscars ceremony,” he told a journalist.
To another, he shot back: “I will continue to study and also pursue my acting career.”
The Class III student of a school at Kalina was selected out of a nationwide talent hunt of 2,000 children, around one-and-a-half-years ago, cleared the audition in Mumbai and Pune to finally land the plum role in Garth Davis’ Lion.
Welcoming him with a tight bear hug and tears of joy, Sunny’s mother Vasu Pawar said she was at a complete loss to describe her feelings.
I have no words to express my happiness over my son’s achievement,” Vasu said, outside the family’s modest dwelling in a hutment colony in Kalina in the eastern suburb of Mumbai.
Grandpa Bhima Pawar told a private TV channel (ZeeTV) that the entire family was extremely proud of Sunny and how he achieved so much in life at such a tender age.
“We have not yet watched the film. But when it is released, our entire family will watch Sunny’s performance,” said Bhima Pawar as his other relatives and grandchildren watched.
Lion is the story of a five-year-old Saroo Brierley, who was stranded in a train which catapulted him hundreds of kilometres away from home to the busy Kolkata.
There, he managed to eke out an existence on footpaths, before a young Australian couple adopts him.
The elder version of Saroo was played by Dev Patel in the film. The role of his foster parents was played by David Wenham and Nicole Kidman.
Some 25 years later, Saroo takes the help of Google Earth to trace out his real family and finally returns from Australia to his home in Madhya Pradesh.
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