She is on her her first visit to India since winning the Oscar award in February this year but Megan Mylan of 'Smile Pinki' fame says she always wanted to bring the story and the trophy back to the country.
"I had to come here and bring this little Indian story way back to India and bring the Oscar back to India because this award is a celebration of a charming little girl and the heroic work of an Indian doctor," Mylan told PTI in an interview.
Mylan won the golden statuette, the ultimate cinematic prize, for her 39-minute film about an eight-year-old girl Pinki Sonkar from a poor rural family near Varanasi.
Pinki's cleft lip makes her a social outcast in her village but a simple surgery under the Smile Train programme transforms her life magically.
And if Mylan is to be believed, Pinki's smile has been a bigger gift than the award because the filmmaker believes the story will help million other "Pinkis" in the country.
"I am very happy to get the Oscar but I think in the log run I will be more proud about what the film is going to do to the million other Pinkis. That's a terrific feeling. I thank Pinki's parents for sharing their story," says the director, who has earlier helmed 'Lost Boys of Sudan'.
When asked whether she still considers Pinki a responsibility now that the film is over, Mylan says she cannot imagine walking away from the life of the children, who have touched her life by sharing their story.
"I am a person first and a filmmaker later. And when somebody gives me trust and shares their story with me and I am with them during their most intense period of life I am bound to feel a connection to them," Mylan says.
"I felt a tremendous responsibility about the teenagers in Sudan and Pinki. I feel an obligation not just to Pinki but to the million other children in India that I did not choose to be part of my film," she adds.
The filmmaker may be basking in the Oscar glory for her India story but says she has no immediate plans to make another story based in the country.
"India and its cinema is an inspiration to every block but I don't have any specific story right now. But I think that at some point of time I will be back here doing something exciting, its such a vast country," she says.
Mylan also hopes that India will have a greater share at the Oscars.
"I hope that next year will be India's year at the Oscars and the director that walks up to the stage won't be an American but this time I am pretty glad that it was me," Mylan says with a laugh.
Asked whether the award has changed her as a filmmaker, Mylan replies with an emphatic 'No'.
"I don't think that they have affected my filmmking but may be I am more self-confident in my own creative instincts. It is just a confirmation but more than Oscars I think that each film changes me," says the filmmaker.
Mylan confesses that it took a little time in bringing the film to Indian theatres.
"It took a little time to put the film in cinemas but I think because of the Oscars it is going to make a dramatic impact on the well being of the kids across the country," she says.
The director is planning to use the grass-root network of the Smile Train organisation to take her film to remote areas of the country including schools and colleges.
"I don't want the story to end with Pinki and the one heroic doctor I want people to understand that there are million Pinkis and hundred of Indian smile train doctors," says Mylan. PTI