Entertainment

Tracing every track: adopted Australian’s amazing journey

Dev Patel in a scene from the movie Lion.
Dev Patel in a scene from the movie Lion. Mark Rogers

A TRAIN journey across the middle of India sounds like a romantic journey through the subcontinent, but it was a nightmare for young Saroo Brierly.

Born Sheru Munshi Khan, Saroo was just five years old when he fell asleep in an empty train carriage and woke up thousands of kilometres from home.

When he finally disembarked at the huge Howrah railway station in the crowded West Bengali capital of Calcutta (now Kolkata), he was disoriented and, thanks to the language barrier between Bengali and his native Hindi, he was mistaken for a street urchin by those he approached for help.

After dodging the many dangers of the city's streets, young Saroo was eventually placed in an orphanage and adopted by Tasmanian couple John and Sue Brierly.

Nicole Kidman, David Wenham and Sunny Pawar in a scene from the movie Lion.
Nicole Kidman, David Wenham and Sunny Pawar in a scene from the movie Lion. Mark Rogers

In his 20s, thanks to the advent of Google Earth, Saroo began tracing every train line out of Kolkata in the hope of reconnecting with his lost family.

Against all odds, Saroo used memories of landmarks to find his family's village. Miraculously, he arrived in Ganesh Tilai to find his birth mother and younger sister still living there.

His incredible story is now the subject of a film, starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, which has already earned plenty of Oscar buzz.

"It had that fable-like quality, that odyssey quality of this little boy who goes on this massive journey," director Garth Davis tells ARM's Weekend magazine.

Saroo's incredible story was brought to the attention of Davis and the film's producers by a newspaper article. They were quick to act, securing the rights to Saroo's story before the publication of his book and the airing of a 60 Minutes story.
 



"The first thing I did was go to India with him," Davis says.

"Coincidentally it was the same time Saroo was meeting his birth mother as part of the 60 Minutes story, so I tagged along for that.

"I retraced all of his steps. I just tried to do the legwork so I could experience it myself. It was quite a big journey."

Davis was adamant about casting a young actor who was the same age as Saroo when he was separated from his family.

"The usual way you would cast a five-year-old is to cast an eight-year-old who looks young, but I found the eight-year-olds were too old," he says.

"As a director I visualised this film and felt the characters… when Sunny (Pawar) came into the room he was the first child I came across who I could feel Saroo in him. There was something about him. I went 'oh my God, that's the kid'. When I put the camera on him I could just see the film."

Sunny Pawar in a scene from the movie Lion.
Sunny Pawar in a scene from the movie Lion. Mark Rogers


The first half of the film, focusing on young Saroo and his older brother Guddu (Abhishek Bharate), is in Hindi with subtitles - a brave move for Davis considering Lion is his feature film debut.

"I thought these brothers were so loveable and engaging, and that there was enough drama there to hold an audience. It was definitely worth the risk," he says.

Slumdog Millionaire star Dev Patel plays the adult Saroo during his formative years at university, his exhaustive Google Earth search and his eventual pilgrimage home to India.

"He wasn't a tortured soul," Davis says. "He became this very carefree, beautiful Australian man. I think it's very important for the story to see this guy who seemed normal in many ways; a guy you'd see walking down the street."

Rooney Mara, who will star in Davis's next film Mary Magdalene, plays Saroo's girlfriend Lucy.

Dev Patel and Rooney Mara in a scene from the movie Lion.
Dev Patel and Rooney Mara in a scene from the movie Lion. Mark Rogers

"It was a very small role but she just loved the story," he says.

"She was a Ferrari in a 40km zone but she is such an amazing actress and I think she's beautiful in Lion because she's so magnetic and mysterious. It brought something to the story emotionally. At the time I thought 'if I could do a whole movie with her; and my wish came true."

Davis and the film's cast reunited in Los Angeles last week for Hollywood's awards season.

Lion was nominated for four Golden Globes and is up for two Screen Actors' Guild awards later this month.

"I don't have any expectations on that because it's a funny business," Davis says. "All I do is support the film with the same love and passion I put into making it. That's all you can do, just be yourself and stand tall and let everybody who's worked on the film accept that acclaim. Nicole and Dev are getting some beautiful recognition and that makes me really proud. It's a wonderful position to be in."

Lion opens nationally on Thursday.
 

Topics:  dev patel garth davis movies nicole kidman the movie lion


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Shute Harbour boat ramp to open tomorrow

Whitsunday Fishing World manager Grant Spees called for patience on the Shute Harbour boat ramp earlier this month.

The Shute Harbour boat ramp will be open as of tomorrow

INXS show rockin' the hits in SES fundraiser

MUSIC FEST: The Australian INXS show will appear at Whitsunday SESsions.

Be there on Saturday to experience Whitsunday SESsions

Lagoon re-opening date now months away

The Airlie Beach Lagoon was closed due to damage from Tropical Cyclone Debbie in March.

The lagoons re-opening date has been extended

Local Partners

Adani deal: Qld Govt finally agrees on royalty scheme

STATE Cabinet has agreed on a new royalty payment scheme for Adani’s Carmichael coalmine plus others in the Surat Basin

Debbie's graveyard: Major auction to clear written-off cars

Auto Repair and Towing Service owner Shane Muntelwit at the salvage yard behind Mackay Airport, which has become a graveyard for about 150 vehicles destroyed or written off by Cyclone Debbie.

A salvage yard has become a makeshift graveyard

What to expect at Birds of Tokyo's Ipswich gig

The band will perform at the Racehorse Hotel on Friday.

BAND member Glen Sarangapany talks music, pub grub and doing shoeys

What public holidays are left in 2017

Ipswich residents will get the day off tomorrow for the show.

IPSWICH residents will get tomorrow off for the show

Model Bella Hadid's see-through dress shocks in Cannes

JUST WHEN you thought you’d all of Bella Hadid’s supermodel figure — she gets her Cannes out on the red carpet of an AIDS gala dinner in France.

No room for morbid fans

Chris Cornell.

Fans want to stay in the hotel room where Chris Cornell died

INXS show rockin' the hits in SES fundraiser

MUSIC FEST: The Australian INXS show will appear at Whitsunday SESsions.

Be there on Saturday to experience Whitsunday SESsions

Star Wars' 1977 Stormtrooper head banger confesses

A Stormtrooper is responsible for the biggest blunder in a Star Wars movie. Picture: Supplied

Man in most famous blooper in Star Wars history breaks silence

Lyn's knock-out show gets her to next round on The Voice

ONWARDS AND UPWARDS: Lyn Bowtell is through to the battle rounds on The Voice.

'It was bitter sweet to win like that'

Is this the talent you get when you limit electronics?

Cassidy Kilburn in the Get the Beat International Dance Competition.

Cassidy, 11, preparing for national dance championships

Report reveals progress on $319m airport upgrade

Aerials of the Sunshine Coast.Jetstar plane in front of the Susnhine Coast terminal, Sunshine Coast Airport.

Over two dozen government approvals needed for airport expansion

Lost dough leaves sour taste after company collapse

Kathleen and John Mahoney from Sugar and Spice Bakery were stung after the collapse of Cantro Pty Ltd and are still owed money.

Supermarket operator collapse leaves sour taste for bakery

Open for inspection homes May 25-31

Check out this weekend's homes open for inspection

How Toowoomba house prices compare in Australia

For sale sign in front of home.

Here's what $700,000 will buy you in Toowoomba, Brisbane and Sydney

One of Maryborough's most historic homes is still for sale

FULL OF HISTORY: Trisha Moulds is owner of the historic Tinana state known as Rosehill. The beautiful home is currently for sale.

It has been the scene of both joy and tragedies over the years.

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!