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Lion: My take on the movie based on a true story

I didn’t realize Lion was based on a true story until the opening credits rolled. It wasn’t until the end of the film when I was literally sobbing that I realized that little Saroo—lost and all alone as a small child in India, saved from a life on the streets by his real-life adoptive family in Australia—was all grown up and had written a book about his journey home. Which sent me into another wave of sobs. 

A five-year-old Indian boy gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of kilometers from home. He survives many challenges before being adopted by a couple in Australia; 25 years later, he sets out to find his lost family.

In the film about half of the story focuses on the little boy, played by Sunny Pawar, an extraordinary young actor who will just rip your heart out. The young actor who plays the brother he gets separated from—Abhishek Bharate as Giddou—is also dazzling. The perils Saroo faces in a country filled with children left to fend for themselves on the streets is frightening, the poverty, disturbing. 

Dev Patel takes on the role of Saroo, all grown up in an affluent Australian home with Nicole Kidman and David Wenham (Top of the Lake) as his parents. Patel, known for Slum Dog Millionaire and Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is perfect, his Australian accent also perfect—at least to my American ears. Kidman, always excellent, is completely lacking in vanity here, playing a regular old mum, unflattering hair do and all. Well, hardly regular! She and her husband, while they can have children, chose to adopt Saroo and later, another little boy from India, their mission to make a difference in the boys’ lives. Not regular at all, like many adoptive parents around the world, heroic and self-sacrificing. 

Don't be swayed by the poster, while Rooney Mara plays Saroo’s girlfriend, her role is supporting, and just not that large. That’s just marketing.
The movie belongs to Saroo, and both Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel. 
The story is moving, knowing it is based on a true story makes it doubly so.