Lion is an incredible real life story of Saroo Brierley, a 5-year-old Indian boy, who gets separated from his poor family. An empty train carriage drags him to Kolkata, a city that doesn't speak his language. Miles away from his home, braving human traffickers and child predators, he eventually gets adopted by a compassionate couple in Australia. 25 years later, recurring memory flashes of his childhood propel him to search for his lost home and birth mother in India, with the help of Google’s mapping program.
Director Garth Davis' six Oscar nominated debut feature film is a gut-wrenching true story that tugs at your heartstrings. Do take a bunch of tissues along for this one's an absolute tear-jerker.
While Dev Patel, as the older Saroo and Nicole Kidman, his Australian adoptive mother Sue, deserve the accolades they have been getting, it’s Sunny Pawar, who truly deserves an Oscar. He is ably supported by Abhishek Bharate, who plays his older brother Guddu. The kids’ undemonstrative performances, sans histrionics are noteworthy.
What also makes this emotional roller coaster special is Luke Davies’ powerful adapted screenplay. Garth’s storytelling is equally compelling as he makes you see yourself in Saroo and endure his pain. The narrative evokes fear, concern and compassion without being preachy and that’s rare for a film of this genre. Lion has some minor hitches though. The second half gets sluggish and Rooney Mara’s irrelevance to the story interrupts the gripping narrative.
While Sunny is the scene-stealer here, Dev and Nicole, prove their mettle as actors in a heartbreaking moment, that’s perhaps the best scene of the film. Tears trickle down your cheeks as Sue tells Saroo why she chose to adopt him when she could have had her own children.
The cinematography and background score do justice to the film’s sensibility. Tannishtha Chatterjee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui make an impressive guest appearance.
Sad yet uplifting, frightening yet inspirational, Lion breaks your heart into a thousand pieces and puts them back together in the end. It makes you believe in miracles and embrace hardships by celebrating courage and resilience in its own unique way.
The film is based on Saroo Brierley’s memoir ‘A Long Way Home’.
Due to denial of visa, 8-year-old Sunny Pawar was initially unable to attend the US premiere of the movie. However, the film’s producers made an appeal to Homeland Security, after which Pawar and his father were allowed to come to the US.
Dev Patel had to gain several kilos for his role of Saroo.
Nicole Kidman and David Wenham previously co-starred in ‘Australia’ (2008). While they played arch rivals in ‘Australia’, they will be seen playing spouses in ‘Lion’.