The poignant story of Auro in R. Balakrishnan's Paa led to two brothers suffering from progeria getting government aid, but critics say patients of the premature ageing disease don't look like Amitabh Bachchan in the movie. Bouquets or brickbats - the filmmaker is only happy that it has made people experts on the disease.
A prominent director had said: "That isn't how a progeria patient looks. Balki has made Mr Bachchan look like a rubber doll."
"I'm glad my film has made the whole industry experts on progeria. But the fact of the matter is we know exactly what progeric kids look like. Amit-ji and I watched dozens of film clippings to understand the way progeric children look and behave. And Amit-ji got it dead-on," said the director who is popularly known as Balki.
Spurred by the film, which also stars Abhishek Bachchan and Vidya Balan, the Bihar government announced aid for progeric brothers Ikramul Khan and Ali Hussain. And Balki is delighted by the impact of the film.
"Now that's the kind of story one likes to hear about Paa. But let me repeat we did not make Paa to spotlight progeria," the filmmaker said.
But there's no way he can distance the film and its content from the disease.
The Progeria Research Foundation in the US is now showing a keen interest in Paa.
Said Balki: "I'd be only too happy for them to watch the film and decide how Paa could spread awareness about progeria."
Once members of the Progeria Research Foundation watch Paa later this month, the director intends to take his film further as a progeric vehicle.