Lion is a deeply moving experience about Saroo Brierley’s search for his home that he lost 25 years back! The film rides on a very tight direction and storytelling (for most part of it other than some loose 10-15 mins within the Australian second half); fantastic camera work of capturing the beautiful yet brutal Indian landscape and its varied range of people; the smoothly blended range of emotions that never come across as forced; and some brilliant performance of Saroo – wonderfully portrayed by the restrained Dev Patel, but overshadowing him by several notches is the cute little and the powerfully natural Sunny Pawar as the young Saroo!
The boy just speaks with his eyes and smile for most part of his role because he wanders through places where no one from the ocean of brutal human brigade speaks his language, and does it so beautifully! There are a lot of violent undertones in that engaging first half but its all kept subtle and yet disturbs the viewer, and Sunny Pawar again does a great job in all those sequences with the other street kids or those strange adults! Similarly moving are the parts when glimpses from the past keep haunting back Dev Patel pushing his longing more and more towards his search for his roots!
Lion also works for its natural flow of shades, language, emotions and tones without forcibly and pretentiously trying to encash on the dark contrasts between Saroo’s poor Indian roots and his comfortable Australian upbringing, it doesn’t manipulate you; and That sets Lion way ahead of the forced and emotionally jerking Slumdog Millionaire from a few years ago..
There are a few improbable moments driving towards the end but you can give in to those considering the rest of the movie remains fairly genuine.. It was also good to see Nawazuddin, Tannishtha, Deepti Naval and the father son duo of Kaushik & Riddhi in their one scene roles leaving a mark.. The mums in Nichole Kidman and Priyanka Bose are charmingly beautiful in their own motherly ways and Abhishek Bharate as Guddu adds his own spark to Saroo’s experiences and ours too!
Not sure if Lion will win an oscar in a couple of days from now, but that hardly matters.. It brilliantly wins hearts and how!