Pinki will become a doctor, promises farmer father

New Delhi, Feb 27 (IANS) Farmer Rajender Sonkar Friday said he would ensure that his daughter, eight-year-old Pinki, becomes a doctor. For it was surgery that transformed the cleft-lipped girl and made her the protagonist of the Oscar winning film "Smile Pinki".

"I'll make Pinki study so that she can become a doctor and operate upon other children with cleft lips," Sonkar, a poor farmer from Rampur Dabai village in Uttar Pradesh's Mirzapur district, told IANS here.

"I'm feeling immense happiness because Pinki is my daughter," he added. He along with Pinki is back from Los Angeles where the film, "Smile Pinki", won the best short documentary Oscar.

On Friday they met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's wife Gursharan Kaur and will be leaving for their village Saturday.

Directed by American filmmaker Megan Mylan, the 39-minute film shows how the girl was a social outcast before free surgery, conducted on her to correct her cleft lip, transformed her not just physically but also emotionally.

Sonkar along with his daughter and Varanasi-based surgeon Subodh Kumar Singh, who operated upon Pinki, was among the people who walked the red carpet at the 81st Annual Academy Awards.

"I'm happy for Pinki. She got such a big opportunity. But more than being happy about the award that the film has won, I'm glad she doesn't have a cleft lip anymore and can live a better life," said an elated Sonkar who didn't know what the Oscars were before the film got nominated.

The father of five children - Anju, 10, Pinki, 8, Laloo, 4, Sunil, 3 and Rinki, 1 - said that it was a good experience walking the red carpet. However, he said it was slightly strange because he did not know anyone.

"I went there, saw various things and it turned out to be a great experience. I knew big people are walking beside me, but I did not know who they were," said Sonkar.

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