(Incredible true story of finding your way home)
“Lion” is about an incredible Indian boy who is separated from his family and finds his way back home over 20 years later.
Sunny Pawar plays the 5-year-old Hindi-speaking Saroo, separated from his older brother at a train station in Khwanda and transported 900 miles away on an out-of-service train to Kolkata, where the residents speak Bengali.
The innocent boy ends up fending for himself on the dangerous streets before being sent to a rundown orphanage, where he is eventually adopted by a Tasmanian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham). Saroo is raised as an Australian by this loving couple, going off to college in Melbourne, where he meets and develops a strong relationship with an American student (Rooney Mara).
Dev Patel makes a handsome and strong adult Saroo, a true Aussie who slowly begins to wonder who his birth mother was, where he lived, how he got separated, what happened to his older brother and the ultimate questions: Are they alive and where are they?
When asked as a child what his mother’s name was, the only thing he knew was “Mum.” And he had the name of his village wrong. Using Google Earth and calculating distances between places that were all very vague in his memory, he recreates his adventures and pinpoints his village.
The story is bogged down a bit by his relationship with his adopted brother, who obviously had some serious psychological problems, and the effect that this had on his adoptive mother.
Saroo does finally return to his birthplace, recalling cultural and language differences, but leading to a satisfying true ending and a “where are they now” postscript.
The story is beautifully and sensitively told, prompting me to get the book, “A Long Way Home,” written by Saroo, who also has appeared on “60 Minutes.” You may wish to bring a handkerchief for the closing moments.
Rated PG-13, but suitable for mature children.