I’ve always been a fan of Dev Patel’s movies—Slumdog Millionaire, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films (more so the first one). However, Lion has to be one of my favorite films with him, so far. (I have yet to see The Man Who Knew Infinity.)
Based on a true story, the film is moving, gut wrenching, and incredibly heartfelt. The cinematography itself is beautifully done—depicting both the beauty and chaos of India, the gorgeous landscape of Tasmania, and the music and acting were great. The standout is none other that Sunny Pawar, who plays five-year old Saroo Brierly—he completely captures you.
Born in a poor village in central India (Ganesh Talai), Saroo and his big brother, Guddu, are inseparable. In every which way, Guddu is Saroo’s hero, and the father he has never known. Every day Saroo and Guddu go in search of work, food, loose change—anything to bring back to their mother, who works in a rock field.
One day, while they are out scavenging, Guddu asks Saroo to wait for him on a train platform. When Guddu never shows up, Saroo jumps onto the nearest train, hoping to find Guddu. At this moment, Saroo begins a long journey from his village to the chaotic streets of Calcutta (around 1800 km/1118 miles). Not understanding where he is, nor being able to speak Bengali, Saroo still searches for Guddu and his mother.
While I don’t want to give the whole film away, the remainder of the story follows Saroo through his time on the streets of Calcutta and in an orphanage. When he is six, Saroo is adopted by a lovely family and taken to Australia, however he never forgets Guddu. While in his late 20s and early 30s, he develops a strong need to search for his lost family. Saroo then begins to retrace the steps of his childhood, and utilizes Google Earth (of course), to search for his family. I’ll just leave it here.
It’s a wonderful story that proves that the unimaginable can happen, and yes—you will have tears. There is also a great 60 Minutes segment on it, and if you’re one of those people who like to read the book before the movie, then Saroo has written, A Long Way Home.