Director: Garth Davis
Cast: Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Sunny Pawar, Nicole Kidman and others
Rating: * * * ½
Saroo Brierly’s lost-and-found miracle is right out of a Bollywood potboiler but based on a true story. Garth Davis has made a moving and uplifting film called 'Lion', based on Brierly’s book. Why it is called 'Lion', the audience discovers in the end, and it brings on a smile.
Five-year-old Saroo (Sunny Pawar) lives with his mother (Priyanka Bose) and siblings in a tiny hut in a village in Madhya Pradesh. He and his brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) do odd jobs—like picking coal off a train—to help their mother, who is a labourer.
Saroo is tragically separated from his brother, as the train, he is sleeping in moves off and lands him in Calcutta. The terrified child, who does not understand Bengali, soon learns to survive and acquires enough self-preservation skills to escape from a couple of traffickers (Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Tannishtha Chatterjee did not deserve such insignificant roles).
When a kindly man takes him to the police station to try and trace his family, Saroo does not know even his mother’s name, just that of the village Ganeshtalay which is not on any map. From the ghastly orphanage, he is adopted by the caring Australian couple Sue and John Brierly (Nicole Kidman-David Wenham) and grows up to be a model son (Dev Patel), as opposed to his troubled and troublesome adopted sibling Mantosh (Divian Ladwa). The first half of the film, with its inevitable comparisons to 'Slumdog Millionaire', somehow does not make poverty in India look so terrifying.