Despite all its good intentions, the Academy Awards this year were a bit of a gong show – culminating in the worst mess-up in Oscars history when the Best Picture award was handed to the wrong film. Having said that, it had more than its share of moments, not the least of which was the presence of Sunny Pawar, everyone’s favourite new lion cub. This kid is one of the many reasons one should be watching Gath Davis’ directing debut, Lion.
Based on the non-fiction novel A Long Way Home, Pawar stars as little Saroo, a precocious five-year old who lives with his brother Guddu and his mother in a village in Khandwa, India. A series of unfortunate events leads to him getting separated from his family, and after a long and confusing train ride, he ends up on the streets of Calcutta. After some truly bone-chilling close calls, he ends up being adopted by an Australian couple (Nicole Kidman and David Wenham) and taken to Tasmania.
Some twenty-three years later, the young man Saroo (now played by Dev Patel), has adjusted to his new life, but feels an incredible yearning for his real mother, made stronger by flashbacks of his youth. Thus begins his obsessive search for his roots, aided by Google Maps. Despite it not being a spoiler, we leave it to you to watch and find out the conclusion for yourself.
Detractors of the film have dismissed it as an ad for Google Maps. However, the debutant director’s light touch has made it a piece that transcends all the ways and problems of storytelling in the times of technology. Dev Patel is in fine form in this post-modern tale, Kidman doesn’t fail to deliver, and little Sunny Pawar will just melt your heart. The use of light and a keen, nostalgic score work together to create a film that is heartbreaking and full of hope at the same time. This one’s a must watch.