Dev Patel gives a career best performance in this remarkable true-life drama about an Australian man who attempts to track down his long lost family in India. This one will tug at your heartstrings.
By Jas Pandohar
In 1986 at the age of five Saroo (Sunny Pawar), a poor Indian boy from Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh gets lost on a train and separated from his family thousands of miles across India. After months of learning to survive alone on the streets of Kolkota he is moved into an orphanage and later transported to Tasmania when adopted by an Australian couple.
Twenty-five years later, grown up Saroo (Dev Patel) has a happy, well-adjusted middle-class lifestyle with a budding romantic relationship with an American (Rooney Maara). However, a chance encounter with a group of Indian university students in Melbourne brings Sago’s buried childhood memories to the forefront.
Haunted at having lost his Indian family, Saroo begins a painstaking search using the then revolutionary new technology Google Earth. Conducting searches using satellite images, Saroo scans across the interiors of India and its railway lines in an attempt to retrace his fateful journey.
With a search radius of over 1,200 miles, Saroo’s challenge overwhelms and consumes him. In the process his relationships with his devoted mother Sue (Nicole Kidman), father John (David Wenham) and adopted brother Mantosh (Divian Ladwa) shows signs of deterioration.
Will he ever find his real mother, elder brother and sister? If he does, what does that mean for his Australian family? Director Garth Davis touchingly addresses these and other questions.
Based on a non-fiction book ‘The Long Way Home’ written by Saroo Brierley himself, Lion is a poignant drama that highlights the importance of knowing where you come from.
Dev Patel’s Oscar nominated performance in Lion is justified. Having honed his acting skills in hit British dramas like Slumdog Millionaire and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel series and Hollywood sci-fi/fantasy flicks The Last Airbender and Chappie, with Lion is given the right script and enough space to deliver a nuanced performance.
Cameo appearances by Deepti Naval, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui add to the authenticity of this Australian drama. However, it’s eight year old child actor Sunny Pawar who deserves most praise. His portrayal of the young Saroo is immensely moving and arguably overshadows even that of Patel. Depicting distress, emotional courage and sensitivity by the bucket load, he breathes life into the heartbreaking reality that Saroo suffered.
The relevance of the film’s title, Lion, is revealed in the final frames, completing one of the more poignant films of recent times. A life-affirming tearjerker from start to end, go watch.