There is something seriously magickal about Garth Davis’s ‘Lion’. It has arrived at a time when most of us are frequently experiencing misanthropy, thus it is refreshing to witness a film that embraces goodness of people and reassure us that in the midst of all that is going wrong in human civilization, such fine gem of individuals do exist who makes this world a better place to live in.
Saroo (Sunny Pawar) a five year old Indian boy, gets separated from his family and goes missing for days only to be eventually adopted by Sue and John Brierley (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham), a lovable couple based in Australia. Fast forward to twenty years, grown up Saroo Brierley (Dev Patel). who continue to get chills over the thought of being separated by his biological family back in India & develop cold feet over their uncertain survival, manages to trace his home through Google Earth and embarks his journey to find them.
Lion is based on Saroo Brierley’s memoir ‘A long way home’ that chronicles his heartbreaking yet astounding journey from his disappearance to his foster life to eventual reunion with his family back after two decades. While the film celebrates the humanity with great maturity sans getting schmaltzy, filmmaker Garth Davis emphasizes more on the crucial role of adoption.
Adoption is one of the many forms of healing; here you get to see Sue, John and Saroo instantly get connected to each other starting off a bond that is inseparable in spite of them belonging to two completely different worlds and Saroo is never made to feel left out even once when he finds himself distracted by his past that almost creates a friction between him and his foster parents. John and Sue Brierley epitomizes unconditional love and affection, for them child’s happiness mattered the most whether biological or adopted.
Nicole Kidman is heartfelt as Sue Brierley, her performance is wonderfully understated layered with genuine emotions. Likewise David Wenham hits the right note as John Brierley, while he has less screen space compared to Nicole, nevertheless makes an equal impact. I have only seen one film of Dev Patel i.e Slumdog Millionaire, apart from that, never had the opportunity to watch any of his other films (due to unknown reasons I am unable to explain) however his performance in Lion is absolutely fascinating, the best compliment can I say is I forgot I was watching Dev, he effectively internalizes the angst, helplessness and the hope of Saroo within him, ably supported by his committed girlfriend Lucy, played by the terrific Rooney Mara, who decides to stand by him in his emotionally vulnerable phase.
While Dev is terrific, in the end, the film is held on the little shoulder of Sunny Pawar to carry who features as the young 5-year-old Saroo and no prize to be guessed, he steals the scenes in every sense, he makes his presence omnipresent even when he isn’t seen onscreen. His performances is powerful enough to break your heart into small million pieces. I found myself choked in many sequences where he has to fend for survival knowing he is just too young to face such tribulations. Masterstroke !
Lion is a beautiful gem that explores the goodness in people with a surreal and meditative pace. It is not just a film, it’s a journey we need to experience with great urgency and subtly makes a pertinent point to give a thought on how crucial adopting a child is in finding your hidden inner capacity to love that remains flawless beyond physical existence.