“I’m a destiny’s child,” says the humbled lion Saroo Brierley

Saroo Brierly, young Sunny Pawar and Dev Patel

By Neeru Saluja

In India, around 80,000 children go missing every year. Most may never be found. In 1987, five-year old Saroo found himself lost in the slums of Kolkata. But luck favoured him, as he was adopted by Hobart couple John and Sue Brierley and grew up in Tasmania.

Saroo grows up as a middle class Australian, fond of sailing and cricket. But the memories of his childhood haunt him. His yearning to find a connection to his past consumes his life. Twenty-five years later, using his childhood memories and Google Earth, he manages to track down his home town and his birth mother.

The film ‘Lion’ is Saroo’s incredible journey of finding his family against all odds. This emotional story has captivated the hearts of millions across the world. Starring Dev Patel (as Saroo) and Nicole Kidman in the most memorable roles of their career, armed with Golden Globe nominations and a strong contender for the Oscars, ‘Lion’ will make you cry.

Thanks to Transmission Films who is releasing the film across Australia on January 19, we had a one-on-one conversation with the real life hero Saroo Brierley while he is promoting the film.

As he tells Sydney on the opening day of ‘Lion’ how he has cried every time watching the film, Saroo never imagined his story will suddenly grab the attention of the world. “I feel ecstatic that this has happened to me. I never thought in my wildest dream that my story would become a worldwide phenomenon. This is so surreal. The great thing about the film is that it has a positive side. Everyone I know is enchanted after watching this film. The audience get something out of the film whichever stage of life they are in. I feel happy as there are many people who are depressed and living under a shadow. The amount of emails I have been getting from people thanking me for sharing my story and how it has helped opened their eyes makes me feel very satisfied.”

The statistics of missing children in India is increasing year by year. So are there more stories out there which have been untold that Saroo has come across? “Yes, there have been many people out there who have shared their stories with me, not just from India, their self-discovery and looking for a closure. After watching the film and reading the book they have felt empowered to talk about their stories. These people come from all over the world and are going on a quest to find their long lost loved ones.”

The film is based on his book ‘Lion – A Long Way Home’ and Saroo never thought his book would lead into a movie. So how did the series of events unfold a few years ago? “The concept of the book came in May 2011 when I was approached by a publishing company. It was the same year that I found Google Earth and it took me a year to find my home and get permission from my family to go to my hometown. It also gave me a chance to save some money! In February 2012 I ventured to India, this was my first time back to India since I left in 1987. Going back to my home country after 25 years brought a lot of ups and downs, electrons and neutrons running crazy in my brain. I had decided to embark on this journey on my own. On a Sunday I landed in Khandwa, the town looked unfamiliar but I asked the taxi driver to go to the train station and before I knew I was walking towards the street in Ganesh Talai where I lived and there I was standing outside the door of my home where I was born. Within few minutes I was face to face with my mum after 25 years. With tears coming down our eyes, we met which was the most pivotal moment of my life.”

Saroo has relived this moment every time he visits his family back home. “I’ve spent my whole life looking for my family. I have visited them 14 times in the past four years. It’s easier on my mum’s mind rather than seeing her once a year. I have also visited my orphanage and met Mrs. Sood a few times. I’m very fortunate to think I have a third mother there.”

He is also full of praise for the lead characters of the film, “Both Dev Patel and Nicole have done an amazing job. The work they have put into is above heads and shoulders. I don’t think there is anyone better, and they wanted the role which is even better. They both told their managers to get this film for them and not come back without getting the film!”

Finding his mother has changed Saroo’s life. His grieving loss and search has come to an end. His memories that led to his home are a part of his identity. “If I forgot everything I would have lost my identity. Being an adoptee we are a destiny’s child.”

An uplifting story of Saroo’s determination and unwavering faith, ‘Lion’ will touch the hearts of every Indian living in Australia. The film is showing in cinemas all across Australia from 19 January onwards.

Short URL: https://indiandownunder.com.au/?p=8303

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