Brave. This is the word I think of when I think of little Saroo, so little, so adorably cute and so devastatingly separated from his family by ever increasing distances.
Saroo is a mighty little man wrapped up in a little body with a huge smile and strength beyond his years. When he is separated from his brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate) after falling asleep on a railway bench, Saroo takes shelter in a stationery train. When he awakes, he finds that the train is travelling a long distance from home and Saroo is lost.
Finding his destination 1600kms away from home in Calcutta, Saroo searches the streets for some way of getting home to his mum, brother and baby sister but the streets are fraught with danger and tiny little Saroo fights for survival, often escaping dangers through quick thinking and astute intuition.
Grace comes in the form of an opportunity to be adopted by an Australian couple living in Tasmania. Although taking him further from his mother and homeland India, Saroo is faced with no other option and makes the journey with his social worker. He begins his life in Australia where he eventually forgets his Hindi language, bonds with his adoptive parents and becomes a fully-fledged Aussie.
Despite a happy upbringing, Saroo begins to feel a call within him to return to his homeland. Unable to shake this feeling, Saroo has dreams, visions and a yearning to find his family. When a college friend suggests using Google Earth to help locate his home by calculating the distance he travelled on the train many years ago, Saroo begins his search.
Years pass by and with the support of his girlfriend who he met in college, Saroo becomes consumed in his relentless search for his biological mother and almost gives up hope. At this point, the pieces begin to fall into place and Saroo finds he is closer to home than he had ever been since the night the train ride changed his life forever.
Five year old Sunny Paawar is brilliant in his role as young Saroo, instantly melting hearts, and calling forth feelings of protectiveness – making you want to scoop him up and look after him. Dev Patel, plays the role of grown up Saroo, skilfully carrying the character through adulthood as he relentlessly looks for his mother.
Speaking of mothers, Nicole Kidman as always, is brilliant in her role as Saroo’s adoptive mother Sue Brierly, providing a realistic and natural approach expressing a woman whose calling is to look after two little orphan boys. With onscreen husband John Brierly, David Wenham and Kidman convincingly portray a family living in the 1980s surrounded by authentic decor such as the old box television and cassette drawers, along with other iconic features of that era.
With this film being based on a true story, the deeply moving scenes of Saroo reuniting with his biological mother are enough to draw a tear or two (maybe even a river of tears – as was the case for many in the cinema). The appreciation the mothers have for each other is felt more than it is heard, reminding us of the beautiful way God provided for the care of this mighty little man who is in himself – a Lion.