The makers of Nicole Kidman and Dev Patel starrer “Lion” wish eight-year-old Indian actor Sunny Pawar could join the team for promotions and the premiere in the US. However, the boy reportedly does not have a visa yet.

Pawar was originally supposed to fly from Mumbai to Los Angeles this week with his father, Dilip, to attend the film’s screening at American Film Institute. He was then to travel to New York City for the premiere at the Museum of Modern Art.

The Weinstein Co, the studio behind the film, had been trying to arrange his travel to the US, reports variety.com.

“We are devastated that Sunny, an eight-year-old boy who is part of this amazing film and who is garnering such strong reactions from his performance, cannot be here to be a part of this experience,” said David Glasser, Weinstein Co President and C hief Operation Officer.

“We are doing everything we can to fight this; we believe it must be the effect of immigration paranoia. He, of course, poses absolutely no threat to anyone. We want him to be a part of the celebration of this film and his performance. We fully intend to go through the proper resources and appeal with the State Department for assistance,” Glasser added.

“Lion” is the story of Saroo Brierley, an Australian man who uses Google Earth to find the family that he was separated from in India.

Pawar features widely in the film’s first hour, playing Saroo, a five-year-old who gets lost on the streets of Kolkata. The film, which was screened at the Toronto International Film Festival — which too didn’t see Pawar in attendance — marks his screen debut.

According to variety.com, the Weinstein Co was reaching out to contacts in India to try to see if they can expedite the process, but in order for Pawar to make Friday’s screening, he would have been required to be on a plane on Wednesday.

It could not be confirmed when Pawar and his father applied for a visa interview. However, in response to a query regarding the matter, a representative of the US Consulate in Mumbai told IANS in an email: “Our policies prohibit us from commenting on individual visa cases.”

“Lion” will get a limited release on November 25.

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