Local boy who made Christmas come early before he died inspires Bollywood movie
'Uma' was screened in St. George Ont., the town that gave Evan Leversage one last Christmas
The 7-year-old boy who made Christmas come early for an entire Ontario town has inspired, years after his death, a Bollywood movie.
His doctors, in 2015, told Evan Leversage's mom Nicole Wellwood that her boy might not last until Christmas. For five years Evan had been battling brain cancer.
Soon the whole town knew the devastating news. Then the people of St. George, Ont. decided that if Evan couldn't be there for Christmas, Christmas would be there for Evan. The town came together to make his one last wish come true.
Christmas came to St. George on Oct. 24, 2015. The town was decked with lights, decorations, carolers were singing, and fake snow covered the boy's home.
Just a few weeks later, on Dec. 6, 2015, in the arms of his mother, Evan died.
Almost three years close to his passing I'm doing all these things that are helping his legacy stay alive, which in turn I hope helps other children that are facing the same route as him.- Nicole Wellwood, Evan's mom
But that wasn't the end of his story.
Mukherji said "I thought the act was incredible."
He said he thought what the town did was "Just this astonishing act of humanity because it is something which in today's day and time is quite rare."
The film is called Uma and it's set in India.
Instead of St. George it's Kolkata, the capital of India's West Bengal state.
Instead of Evan, it's a young girl named Uma. Instead of a mother taking care of her son, it's a father. And instead of Christmas, it's the annual Hindu festival, Durga Puja, in honour of the goddess Durga. It marks her battle with the demon Mahishasura — a festival to celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
জাগো বিস্ময়, জাগো স্পন্দন, জাগো জাগো উমা।<br>Presenting the Official Trailer of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Uma?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Uma</a> : <a href="https://t.co/XQUUHHzQgl">https://t.co/XQUUHHzQgl</a><br>In Cinemas 1st June.—@srijitspeaketh
"It's incredible," Evan's mom said, "the fact that Evan's story in St. George was able to inspire an Indian filmmaker to make such an impacting movie."
"It's not necessarily his story, it's more he inspired Srijit to actually write this and I think it's more what he tried to aim for is the humanity aspect and what happens when a community or people come together and you know in the movie, which I love about it, he's added the obstacles," said Wellwood. "With Evan there were so many obstacles."
"He has put a lot of heart and passion into this movie."
Wellwood was flown to Kolkata in May for the premiere and said it was inspiring.
Sitting in the front row of the theatre over 12,000 kilometres from St. George, Wellwood said she thought, "how did life ever become the way it has been?"
It's incredible, the fact that Evan's story in St. George was able to inspire an Indian filmmaker to make such an impacting movie.- Nicole Wellwood, Evan's mom
"Almost three years close to his passing I'm doing all these things that are helping his legacy stay alive, which in turn I hope helps other children that are facing the same route as him," Wellwood said.
"It's really moving because it has become something big and sometimes I don't even know how to process it because you know, this is three years after his passing and his legacy is stronger now than it was a day after his passing."
A source of strength
After the official premiere, Wellwood says she went into theatres to surprise people at the beginning, or to speak with them after the movie and enjoyed that because "you got to see how impacting and moving the movie was."
The film ends with a tribute to Evan, a slideshow — her son in pictures.
Excited to be here in <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/StGeorge?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#StGeorge</a> with <a href="https://twitter.com/StedmanHospice?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@StedmanHospice</a> for the film UMA celebrating EvanLeversage <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/ENDbraintumours?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ENDbraintumours</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/BrainTumourFdn?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BrainTumourFdn</a> <a href="https://t.co/Ly5034WMkc">pic.twitter.com/Ly5034WMkc</a>—@SMarshallBTFC
There's always going to be sadness, Wellwood says. "This biggest, hardest challenge has been how to move forward without Evan."
She says she felt lost and struggled with depression. It lasted for a year. After that, she started getting out of the house more. The movie has helped.
"I'm doing things that I never could have imagined in my wildest dreams because of Evan."
On Thursday, June 5 the town of St. George once again came together for Evan and held a screening of the film and Mukherji was there.