Updated: Apr 1
Welcome to the 3rd edition of Movie with a Message, it has been a little while since we updated this page, please bear with us. We are always working to bring you content that is worth your time. Today's movie of focus is titled LION. This movie was released back in 2016; it had always been on my radar for the list of movies I wanted to see, until I finally saw it in 2017 and thought why I waited that long actually to watch this fantastic film. The incredible piece is about a true-life story of an Indian boy who went missing after he followed his brother out at night for a possible job opportunity. You can tell we love covering real stories here at Let's Talk Nation.
We love stories that carry much value, and we also use this platform as an avenue to encourage more people to share their life stories through writing, because you never know who you could impact. The movie was nominated for 6 academy awards, 6 critics choice awards for best picture, 4 golden globes awards while the star Dev Patel won the best supporting actor at the British academy film award.
Pictured Above: Old Saroo (Dev Patel), young Saroo (Sunny Pawar) & real Saroo (Saroo Brierley)
Picture Cred: Instagram account for the movie Lion
The title of this movie is a true testament to the lead of this story. We all know how tough and fierce a lion can be. Well, Saroo needed all the strength that there is to go on the journey he was about to embark on. Let me set the story up here for you. So Saroo is a five-year-old Indian boy depicted by the talented Sunny Pawar. He is living with his mom and three siblings at the time. Their father had left them at a young age, leaving the mother to care for her little ones by herself. The children had to do a bit of growing up to help their mother make ends meet.
One of the older brothers usually goes out to find menial jobs to do; then he brings back whatever he makes at the end of the day. This one night he is set to go out, and Saroo insists on following him. You are too young, he says to Saroo, you are not strong enough to come out with me. Saroo goes out and picks up his brother's bicycle as if to show him he all of a sudden has some strength or power to go with him. The brother laughs it off and finally allows Saroo to accompany him.
Lost and never Found
They get on a train to Khandwa, when they get there the older brother tries to wake Saroo up, but the poor child is exhausted and wants to sleep. The brother places him on a bench by the train stop and warns him not to move from there until he gets back. You have to bear in mind that this is all happening at night. Saroo eventually wakes up from his nap, and he can't find his brother. He starts calling out for him, but to his dismay, there is no response.
The little boy gets back on the train looking for his brother, then the train starts moving, and he can't get off. He screams for people to help him, but no one answers him. He ends up 15 hours away from where his journey started. He finds himself in Calcutta and starts asking people how he can get back home. Since he is 15 hours away from home the language changes, the people in Calcutta speak a different language from the people in Khandwa.
So No one seems to understand what this little lad is saying and unfortunately, they ignore him. He later finds himself sleeping on the streets at night and hustling for food during the day. One day, he gets discovered by this Good Samaritan, who takes him to a shelter for homeless kids. While he is there, newspaper ads go out with the hopes that someone will identify him and contact the agency, but nothing seems to be happening.
The matron in charge had to break the news to young Saroo that no one has come for him yet, which makes him so sad. He asks, not even my mum? She replies no, not even mum (that broke my heart). She then goes ahead to tell him that they have found a family in Australia who wants to take him in. He had to forget about life as he knew it.
Picture cred: Instagram account for the movie Lion
A New Normal
Sometime later, Saroo is accompanied to Australia to meet his new family. The family is excited, and they welcome him with open arms into their home. Saroo fits right in with them and embraces his new life completely. Some years later, they adopt another kid from India as well, and Saroo now has a new sibling. Saroo is a well-behaved child, and his new parents adore him a lot. Whenever they have issues with their other son, they tell Saroo to talk to his brother to make things right.
Fast forward some years later, Saroo is now grown and in college. The talented Dev Patel now portrays him. While Saroo is in school studying, he meets some other people from India. Whenever they ask him where he is from, he often says Calcutta. When in fact he was initially from Ganesh Talai. He wanted to put his heartache behind him; even if he never forgot where he came from.
As time went by, he began to have a yearning for his family he left behind in India. He wondered what happened to them if they were still alive if they were doing well, and so on. These thoughts consume him on the inside that it begins to drive a wedge between him and his Aussie parents. It breaks their heart to see their child miserable; they are scared that they are going to lose him.
His mom, played by Nicole Kidman, reveals to him that she and her husband decided not to have biological children because they want to help kids in need. That is why they chose to adopt Saroo and his brother. Saroo assures his parents that he wasn't going to forget about them, after all, they have been his family for 25 years, but he needed to go on this journey alone.
Pictured Above: Real Saroo & Aussie mum
Picture Cred: From the movie, Lion
A 25-year Reunion in the making
Saroo always had vivid images of what his childhood looked like. They were like flashbacks that came to him from time to time. With his distinctive memory and a zeal to find his family, he begins his search with the help of google earth. At that time, google earth was not what it is today. It takes him about four years to pinpoint where he got on a train from that night.
After figuring out the possible train terminal, he informs his parents and heads out to Khandwa, India in 2012. He arms himself with a photo of when he was little, a picture that was taken at the shelter. He then goes to the area he believes he grew up and starts showing people the photo, asking if they remember this little child and if they know where his mum is.
Eventually, a man takes him toward the direction of what seems like a group of women walking together. He doesn't recognize the women to the left and right of the woman in the middle. But the woman in the middle looks familiar, as they walk closer to each other, their vision of each other becomes more precise. They hone in on each other, while every other person becomes a blur. My eyes welled up as I watched this scene, I felt all the emotions they wanted us to feel as the pair embraced each other for the first time 25 years after the mother calls out his name. She then mutters "oh how I looked for you" and he whispers, "I am very sorry, I am so sorry."
Picture Cred: Instagram account for the movie, Lion
Who could have thought that after 25 years had passed that she will see her son again, or her son will behold her again? He now asks of his brother, who he went out with that fateful night. Unfortunately, the brother passed away that night. A train hit him. Saroo broke down crying on his mother's shoulders. You can imagine the mother’s pain, losing two children in one night. Only God knows the pain she had to walk through those 25 years until one of them came back.
The mother reintroduces Saroo to his sister, and he immediately hugs her, by then a lot of people had gathered around and started cheering them on, with the sister shedding tears in her long-lost brother's arms. This scene only made me realize how amazing God is! This was all a part of His plan; He knows how to work everything out for our good. His expertise is bringing things full circle no matter how long it may take. Maybe if Saroo had remained in Ganesh Talai, maybe his life wouldn't have amounted to anything. Although the movie isn't faith-based, I could see God written all over it.
It was such a heartfelt reunion. According to the synopsis written at the end of the movie, "Saroo returned to Ganesh Talai on February 12th, 2012 and he had been lost for over 25 years". Saroo’s mum Kamla never gave up hope that she would find her son again, she never moved from where they lived. Kamla said that she was “surprised with thunder” when her boy came back and that the happiness in her heart was “as deep as the ocean.” In 2013, Saroo brought his Aussie mum to meet his Indian mum. They were wrapped up in each other's embrace, and the kisses on the cheek kept flowing.
The primary lesson in this movie is-- never give up! You see Saroo was discouraged by his friends to stop searching for his family they felt he had a new life in Australia and there was no point going back to the past and also for years nothing turned up so their argument was understandable. But he kept going until one day everything fell into place. If he had listened to them, maybe he never would have found his birth family and wouldn't have this fantastic story to tell.
Then a publisher wouldn't have gotten wind of it, a movie wouldn't have been made, and most importantly he wouldn't have gotten a feature on Let's Talk Nation (haha just joking). All these incredible things would not have happened. In fact, the spotlight wouldn't have been on the 80,000 children that go missing in India every year.
Everyone's story has a purpose, but are you strong enough to withstand the test of time to keep doing what you believe in, regardless of naysayers? One day, everything will pay off, and you will be glad that you never gave up. Saroo learned that all those years he had been mispronouncing his name, his name was actually Sheru, which means Lion (That was how the movie got its title) Now it all makes sense, his name gave him the strength and the tenacity he needed for his journey.
"Lion is a beautifully told, uplifting story of courage and determination." Richard Roeper for Chicago Sun-Times
"Its themes are universal. Everyone has a home, and everyone feels connected to it, no matter how far they travel." Adam Graham for Detroit News
"If you have ever been a child, raised a child, lost a child or met a child- or any of the above with respect to a mother- this movie will wreck you." A.O. Scott for The NYTimes
I am grateful to the director Garth Davies for bringing this compelling story to Life, to Saroo’s Aussie parents for taking their boys in and raising them up with love, also to Saroo’s Indian mum for never giving up hope and to Saroo Brierley for not being afraid to share his story around the world. To learn more about Saroo, you can purchase his book “A long way home” on amazon.com. You can also watch the interview below with him and his mother at Studio 10.
Video Cred: Studio 10 channel on youtube.com
Another great one under our belt, watch to see why LION is a Movie with a Message & comment to let us know what you think. Xoxo