While the entire country was celebrating the 10 Oscar nominations of
, the tale of a little girl in Varanasi whose cleft lip made her a social outcast went almost unnoticed in spite of being shortlisted for an Academy award in the short documentary section.
Made in Bhojpuri and Hindi, Smile Pinki revolves around poor six-year-old Pinki from a village of Mirzapur district.
The 39-minute film directed by Emmy-nominated producer Megan Mylan, also tells of Ghutaru, who along with Pinki were made social outcasts due to their cleft lips.
The simple surgery that can cure them is a distant dream until they meet Pankaj, a social worker travelling village to village, gathering patients for a hospital that provides free surgery to thousands each year.
It was shot in the village and G S Memorial Plastic Surgery Hospital in Varanasi where Pinki was actually operated by plastic surgeon Subodh Kumar Singh.
Singh is project director of Smile Train which offers free surgery to cleft children.
"Nomination of 'Smile Pinki' for an Oscar is bound to bring awareness about this congenital anomaly among the general public and health agencies and therefore it is a good news for all cleft patients whose life can change," an elated Singh told PTI.
Produced in Hindi (with English subtitles), Smile Pinki was also a 2008 nominee for best documentary short by the International Documentary Association.
Others in race with Smile Pinki are The Conscience of Nhem En, The Final Inch, and The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306.