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Lion  : A Roar Of Approval
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Are you kidding?
 
Friday, February 24, 2017
Drama
Garth Davis
Sunny Pawar, Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman

When it’s a true story, it tugs at the heartstrings just a little more. Based on the book ‘A Long Way Home’, it is an unexpected journey for five-year-old Saroo when he falls asleep on a train that’s decommissioned. He alights in Calcutta which is 1600 kms away from his village near Khandwa.  All he knows is his name the way he pronounces it. Where’s he from? Ganeshtalay. Where is it? Aha, he doesn’t know. What’s his mother’s name? Ami or mom.

 

By casting an endearing little Sunny Pawar as Saroo, director Garth Davis makes you move with the lost brown child till he’s finally adopted by Australian couple, John and Sue.

 

Until then, although Saroo is disarmingly naïve about his family and whereabouts, he has fortunate reserves of survival instincts that make him run away from trouble when he’s sized up by a pair of shady adults. The casting of efficient actors like Tannishthaa Chatterjee and Nawazuddin Siddiqui in these short cameos keeps the interest alive. Davis also adds shots like Saroo, now a rag-picking urchin on the streets of Calcutta, connecting silently with someone in a restaurant whose movements he cheekily imitates with a spoon from across the road. You know, scenes that aren’t full of self-pity and morbidity. And that makes you cross your fingers just a little tighter for Saroo. 

 

The angst actually comes to a grownup Saroo who’s been brought up with love, care and comfort in Australia. Dev Patel with more facial hair than he had in Slumdog Millionaire, gets progressively more dishevelled and disturbed as flashes from his childhood begin to haunt him: his bonding with older brother Guddu who promised him a shopful of jalebis someday and mother Ami with her lovely smile.

 

Saroo now has a girlfriend too but it’s a plate of jalebis that prods his emotions. And it’s Google Earth that plays the most important part in locating Ganeshtalay, even if these scenes are sluggish and take up too much of screen time.

 

It’s heartwarming to watch a real life story that has closure and a pleasure of its own. It’s also told simply and neatly without technical fuss.

 

Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel playing Saroo win your empathy. Nicole Kidman as his Australian mother has a couple of moments of emotional brilliance. But you have to wait till the end to know why the film is called Lion.

 

For a tale that proves that happy endings do exist in real life, Lion gets a 3* rating.

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan
Senior Journalist & Author

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