Did you have any surprises in the making of the film or in reactions to it?
I was surprised at how little the film feels like a medical film to me. On the plot level, of course, it's about clefts and I hope people watch it and come away understanding the impact of a cleft on a young life and how simple it is to cure it. But I think the things that resonate with me from my time spent in the hospital and with the families are much more sort of universal things about parenthood. I love the relationship between Pinki and her father. Good daddies aren't about the financial resources you have, it's really about that love and support. And my time spent in the hospital in Varanasi felt so different from the time I've spent in hospitals in this country, where you never know when the doctor's going to stop by or one foot's out the door the whole time they're talking. I so appreciated the rhythm of that hospital.
And I think folks with small children have been really connecting with the burden the parents felt of not being able to help their child. I really genuinely believe we all have so much more in common than we are different.
Has Pinki and her family seen the film?
Pinki and her father and Dr. Subodh came to Los Angeles for the Oscars. They all sat in a theater and watched it with me. But prior to that I brought a rough cut back to the hospital when I went back to shoot the epilogue, and screened it with the hospital staff. And after we finished the film, Dr. Subodh and the team from the hospital took generators and a screen and I think they just put a sheet up on the side of one of the stucco houses in Pinki's village and projected the movie there. It was amazing. They let word out: "There's going to be a movie shown at sundown," and her village is about seventy-five people, but about nine hundred people showed up to watch it.
Had many of those people even seen a movie before?
No. And Pinki and her father had never seen a movie. To this day, the only movie they've seen is the one they're in.