The movie Lion is a true example of art in its purest form. Lion uses no cheesy CGI or action-packed fight scenes; it requires no special effects to imprint its message on your heart. Instead, it simply follows a young boy through his seasons of life, allowing the viewer to witness intimate scenes of heartbreak and healing. The movie seamlessly interlocks two remarkably different worlds, demonstrating the connectedness of humanity. It is a remarkable excerpt of the human condition.
The movie Lion exposes our rawest fear: loss. The only thing as scary as losing our loved ones is losing ourselves, and it can be a long journey to feel whole again. Yet despite how displaced we feel, Lion redefines the meaning of “home” and shows us that there’s never a reason to give up on hope.
A True Story
Before you click play, make sure to grab some tissues. The movie Lion plays with your heartstrings in a way most other movies cannot. Lion sets the stage for heartache immediately, telling the audience how the whole film is based on the true story of one boy’s adoption from India and search to rediscover his past. The opening scene introduces this boy, a young Indian child named Saroo.
It’s 1987. Saroo and his brother are fighting tooth and nail to survive in the cutthroat world of Khandwa, India. Saroo is just like any little boy — idolizing his older brother, easily distracted with childlike wonder, and craving the sweet treats sold in the streets. He is incredibly loyal to his family. Despite his young age, he is committed to providing for his single mom and little sister. Even though five-year-old Saroo lives in rural poverty, his fierce devotion to his loved ones and his playful disposition keeps him content.
Tragically, horror strikes Saroo when he is suddenly separated from his family on an outing with his brother. After demanding to accompany his brother to his work, little Saroo falls asleep on the train ride over. His brother gently lays him down on a train station bench, telling him to wait patiently for his return. Hours pass, and Saroo awakens alone in the station. He frantically searches for his brother, ending up in an empty train. The train takes off, and Saroo begins a distressing journey, thousands and thousands of miles away from everything he’s ever known.
Saroo quickly gets caught in a terrifying web of city life. In fact, the next few scenes are particularly hard to watch. Nobody seems to care about a dirty little boy, wandering aimlessly around the streets of Kolkata. He can’t speak the language, and he’s brutally pushed aside and treated like gutter trash. For months, Saroo is completely abandoned and overlooked. He endures more suffering than most people five times his age.
This starts Saroo on a quest to find his way back home.
The distressing scenes in the movie’s first act are paired beautifully with the artistic flare of Garth Davis. The director envisioned the true vibrancy and color of India, and managed to encapsulate it in each clip. The cinematography is exceptional- you are completely immersed in the cacophony of India’s bustling metropolis. The smell of the filthy rivers intertwine with fragrant spices, drifting through your screen to submerge you completely. Each shot reveals the inner soul of the country — a curtain of culture pulled aside to reveal shocking atrocities. To top it all off, the soundtrack harmonizes perfectly with every emotion you experience.
Little Saroo eventually gets adopted by a wealthy Australian couple and is relocated to Tasmania. As time passes, he must adjust to his new life — complete with a posh neighborhood, vacations on the beach, and a doting mother. His life in India fades into distant memories. Nothing more than remnants of smoke, like the smoggy fires from Kolkata chimneys.
Whether if you’re watching scenes in India or halfway across the world, Davis’s directing will never cease to amaze you.
The Stars of the Film
Young Saroo is played by Sunny Pawar, a magnificent performance for somebody so young. Saroo grows into a mature young man, played by Slumdog Millionaire’s Dev Patel. Before watching this movie, I knew very little about Dev Patel. Now, after seeing him onscreen, I plan on watching every one of his films (including a rewatch of the movie Lion). His portrayal of Saroo is phenomenal.
Obviously most viewers don’t share the same devastating backstory as an Indian-born adoptee like Saroo. But Patel is able to magically transcend the screen and connect to viewers through emotions felt on a primal level.
Most of us haven’t felt the discomfort of forgetting how to use Naan bread when it’s expected of us. But all of us have straddled two rival worlds, and felt like we don’t belong to either one. The fear of not fitting in is universal. Every human on earth longs to find their very own home, and Lion brings this yearning to the forefront of our minds.
Why to watch The Movie Lion
Saroo is torn between conflicting universes. He is haunted by his past and tormented by his present — where is he meant to belong? In his Indian village, where his roots are planted? Or in Melbourne, where he has blossomed into an educated student? Saroo must reconcile his current life with his mother (Nicole Kidman), who has faced struggles of her own after adopting children. Simultaneously, he must put his obsessive thoughts about his childhood to rest or risk being eternally plagued by what-ifs.
Many adopted kids will face the anguish of feeling like they don’t belong. Unlike the movie Lion, many birthmothers also choose to put their child up for adoption (rather than losing them). Each adoption is different, with uncomparable circumstances and unpredictable challenges. However, Lion is a story of healing. The scars of the past can fade, and hope can prevail if we seek it out.
So does Saroo ever find a way back home? Well, you’ll have to watch to find out. But I’d recommend grabbing some popcorn immediately. The movie Lion will lead you home in ways you never thought were possible.
Adoption Choices of Oklahoma
If you are currently in the process of adopting a baby and have any questions or concerns, feel free to contact, Adoption Choices of Oklahoma. You may visit our website here or call 405-794-7500 (Oklahoma City) or 918-982-6220 (Tulsa).
Support Adoption Choices
Adoption Choices, Inc. is partnering with Crowdrise, a fundraising website for nonprofits, to help our adoptive parents and birth parents with much needed financial assistance. We understand that expenses keep clients from fulfilling their dreams. Both with birth parents making a plan for adoption, and with adoptive parents growing their family. It is our mission to provide financial assistance through grants and scholarships, awarded annually in November, in honor of National Adoption Month. Funds assist adoptive parents with matching and placements, adoption finalization and helping birth mothers improve their lives through higher education — and much more.
However, we can’t do it alone. Please read up on our programs and donate money where you are able. Your donation will make a huge impact.
About the Author
Kenneal Patterson is a sophomore at Northeastern University in Boston. She is currently studying Journalism and Political Science, with a minor in Global Health. She is honored to work with Adoption Choices, and hopes that her journalism will inspire others to be more empathetic and kind. She thinks that writing can convey important messages of hope and love, and wants to share these messages with others.
Kenneal spends her summers at home in Golden, Colorado, with her many cats and dogs. She is eternally grateful to those who read her work!