Faulty cable connection plays spoilsport; Lion hero's family hasn't even watched the film yet
Jimmy Kimmel raises Sunny Pawar in the air at the Oscars
Tucked away in a narrow bylane of a Santacruz slum lies Sunny Pawar's house. The eight-year-old has turned into an Internet sensation following the success of his Oscar-nominated film Lion, starring Dev Patel (older version of Sunny). Ask anyone in the dusty lane leading to his two-room house about him and they happily guide you to the place he has grown up.
"Our boy is a superstar," a friendly neighbour proudly declares, ushering me in. In a warm welcome by Pawar's family, I was introduced to his two grandmothers, a couple of uncles, siblings and three cousins. Hiding behind the large family was his petite mother, Vasu. "The world might say he is a celebrity, but for me, he is my baby. Our phones haven't stopped ringing since morning. I am missing him more today. He sounded overwhelmed when we last spoke. I think he's beginning to get homesick," she says, visibly emotional. Sunny has been constantly travelling with his father, Dilip Pawar, in the US for the film's promotions.
The boy's family. Pic/Datta Kumbhar, PTI
"I spoke to Sunny in the morning briefly, before he went for the awards. He didn't sound nervous. His father told me which channel to watch it on, but I missed it due to the faulty cable connection. We live in a joint family, so we will sit together and watch the awards function again, hopefully soon," she says.
Turns out Vasu and the rest of the family hasn't even watched Lion yet. "But we will, very soon. Sunny's father told us the producers are arranging for the entire family to go to the US. It'll be our first trip abroad," she says, beaming with pride.
A poster of Dev Patel, Sunny hangs outside his house
She hopes little Sunny becomes a Bollywood star some day. "Everyone has told me he is a great actor. His father didn't want him to do just anything that came his way. [But] He really believed in the story [of Lion]. Sunny was always a movie buff; Singham and Krrish are his favourites."
Vasu has spent the entire morning going through pictures on her brother-in-law's Twitter feed, gushing about how dapper her son looks in a tux. "Credit goes to Dev (Patel) and the entire cast. I know he has given him grooming tips, how to fix his bow-tie, and tie shoelaces."
Ask her why she thinks Hollywood celebs, from Dwayne Johnson to Samuel Jackson, find little Sunny so charming and she asserts, "They love his simplicity. It's no surprise that the world finds him affable."