Updated: May 28, 2018
Of bonds of blood and love.
Director: Garth Davis
Writers: Luke Davies (screenplay), Saroo Brierly (book)
Stars: Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Rooney Mara, Nicole Kidman
Many things come together to make a film capable of tugging at our emotions and feel for some stranger; see life from their eyes for no good reason. Lion has many of those things, but first lets get the negatives out of the picture. As an Indian, and someone who understands and speaks Hindi, I found the Hindi dialogues to be cringe-worthy, to say the least. Not only did they seem like out of a theater but were also extremely inorganic, unlike the rest of the film. That’s it. That is my only issue with Lion. .
Now to the good part. I cannot put this off till the end after all the technical mentions. Dev Patel has never looked more self aware in any of his films before. He is not there coz he is the only Indian dude available. Thats not true, even if people think so. This dude knows what he is doing, how he is looking, what he is supposed to feel. His acting is every bit deserving of an oscar nomination. Moving on to Nicole Kidman. Yes, it has to do with the screenplay as well, that her introduction in the film comes like the morning sun after a dark night, but this lady just dialled it up to actually stamp a glad smile on my face ever since she showed her face in the film. These two actors bring together that hook which keeps you rooting for the story to end happily and the struggle to end with an elixir.
Then comes the little Sunny Pawar. It is noticeable that the director wanted to keep the film as raw as possible, especially in Sunny’s part. The screenplay has kept the treatment gorgeously balanced between the little boy’s innocence and his fight for survival in the face of the world’s evil forces. Here, the little boy has succeeded in translating the director’s vision on screen. Garth Davis made it a point to show the harshness of the world while maintaining Saroo’s innocence throughout the film. So even if the boy is running from sexual predators in the middle of the night and doesn’t stop when another little girl is hoisted away and gradually learns how to not get noticed by people selling little kids in the destitute home, he still makes a friend, shares his day and holds her hand for support.
A moment to mention my absolute elation of this maintenance of innocence when Dev Patel and Roony Mara have and absolutely charming flirtatious sequence on Urvashi Urvashi by A.R. Rahman. The point is, even though the film may be dealing with the grave reality of lost children in India or that of a lost boy surviving in an unknown city where people speak an unknown language or that of an adopted boy living a privileged life conflicted with the emotion of searching for his roots at the cost of seeming thankless of the privileged life given to him by his adoptive parents or even that of the love he has for his adoptive mother which could be put to test if he leaves to search for his biological family; it still gives you days of hope and innocence and courage in the face of it all.
The bond Saroo shares with his biological mother and brother along with the love and tenderness with which he accepts his new family and loves them just as one would have hoped, and the support he receives from his family to go and find his Indian roots which he eventually does, beautifully depicts the triumph of human spirit and bonds of love and blood. This clear writing and direction couples with stellar performances make Lion worthy of its 6 Oscar Nominations.
Lion will make you scared, make you hurt and turn you in to a 5 year old lost boy whose union with his adopted mother and reunion with his birth mother will carve a niche in your heart and you will cherish what you feel when you watch this film.