Have you ever lost anything that has been very close to your heart? So close that losing it never let you live in peace? If yes, how did you silence the chaos in your heart and mind? Did you find it back or simply let it go? And if you found it, what happened next? Did you feel the same connection that you had with it before you lost it? Or you were able to silence the ache but what you lost was gone forever even after you found it back? Some questions can never be answered. Some knots can never be untied. If you manage to do so, the marks still remain.
Lion is a true story of Saroo Brierley, the author of the book, A Long Way Home. The boy hailing from a small town in Madhya Pradesh separated from his brother at the age of 5 and did not find his way back home for 25 long years. Left home at night in search of food, Guddu, Saroo’s elder brother, asked him to rest at the railway station and wait for his return. Unfortunately, the brother never returned leaving Saroo with no other option than to wander off.
Saroo was then adopted by an Australian couple, John Brierley and Sue Brierley. Though the couple raised the kid well, his heart and mind always travelled back to his own mother. Besides his mother, he also longed to be reunited with Guddu. It was like Guddu lived with him, not allowing him to let a day go by where he doesn’t think about him and the family. As if Guddu had hijacked his mind. As Saroo grew up, his yearning to go back to his roots intensified – to an extent where it started getting in the way of his normal life. Saroo couldn’t sleep or behave normally around friends and family. His mental fatigue, emotional exhaustion, and restlessness followed him wherever he went – to a party, to meet his family, during intimate moments with his girlfriend – he couldn’t live an undisturbed life even if he wished to.
Dev Patel has very well portrayed this restlessness and fatigue on screen. Your heart keeps breaking for this lost soul. There comes a point where you want to dive in and help him reunite with his family just so that he could live in peace.
Kudos to Garth Davis for outstanding direction. I loved the way the scenes where Guddu’s memories seem to start haunting Saroo wherever he goes are filmed. They are done so amazingly that Guddu not only haunts Saroo in the film but very smoothly starts living in your mind as well. That’s the power of good direction. It takes complete control of your mind and heart.
Getting back to the story, does Saroo find home? Yes, thanks to Google Earth, he locates his village. Most importantly, he recollects and recognizes the details of the village and his house. Without that, he couldn’t have been able to make it back to his mother.
As Saroo found his village on Google Earth, without wasting time, he came back to India and finally, after 25 years, reunited with his Mother. You feel so relieved when he meets her. But the first question that comes to your mind is, ‘Where is Guddu?’ You want the brothers to be reunited as soon as possible, without wasting another minute of their precious time.
But what unfolds after breaks your heart. Life’s injustice and cruelty has spared whom? Neither you, nor me.
Guddu never came back to pick Saroo up from the railway station because he was hit by the train. Though the mother got the news along with his body a month later, she was sure that Saroo is alive and will someday find his way back home.
As I watched the film, the only dominant thought in my mind was that it was Guddu’s soul who did not let Saroo live in peace. His mother’s constant ache, her faith, and a strong desire to be reunited with her son did not let the 5-year-old make new memories. They kept calling him home and he had no choice than to return to them.
P.S: Child actor Sunny Pawar as 5-year-old Saroo Brierley is a treat to watch. Gifted!
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Streaming On: Netflix, YouTube, Google Play, and Apple TV (In India)