Pinki Sonkar gives a puzzled expression when you ask her what an Oscar means. After a little prodding from her father,she smiles and replies,Pinki ko America jaana hai,Oscar leke aana hai. The eight-year-old has never seen a movie,but she adds,I am excited about attending the Oscar ceremony. Ill meet all the stars.
A resident of the remote Rampur Dhavaia village in Mirzapur,Uttar Pradesh,Sonkar features in the Oscar-nominated documentary titled Smile Pinki. Directed by American filmmaker Megan Mylan,the 40-minute documentary captures her life from ostracism to public acceptance,after she underwent a surgery to cure her birth defect of an upper cleft lip in March 2007. First my friends at school mocked at me and called me hothkata (cut-lipped) and now they are encouraging me to go to America and win the Oscar, she says,as she sits comfortably at the Radisson hotel lobby,hours before flying to Los Angeles for the Oscars.
On the D-day,Pinki will walk the red carpet like any other star. Dressed in a bright ghagra choli,she will be accompanied by her father Rajendra Sonkar and Dr Subodh Kumar Singh,the surgeon who operated on her.