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Lion- The Long Way Home

Film tip

Action

The little five-year-old Indian boy Saroo lives with his three siblings and his mother in the small village of Ganesh Talai in the middle of rural Madya Pradesh. The family is poor, the mother earns her money as a simple worker and their father has left them. At the nearby train station, the children try to find money or steal some coal from the freight trains and then later exchange them for milk or edibles.

On one of these stations, little Saroo loses his older brother Guddu and accidentally falls asleep on an empty train to be discarded. When he wakes up later, the moving train has long since made its way towards Calcutta. After the several-day journey by train, Saroo finds himself in Calcutta – a city he does not know and whose language he does not understand.

Saroo is on the streets of Calcutta for several weeks until he is eventually taken to the police by a man who speaks a bit of Hindi.

Unfortunately, no one can help Saroo finding his family. He lives in the orphanage for three months until a charity arranges him for adoption with an Australian couple.

Despite his happy childhood, Saroo does not let go of his past. As a young adult, he tries to find his family’s place of residence with his photographic memory and the help of Google Earth. He follows the various railway tracks of Calcutta, zooms in again and again into railway stations and tries to compare the villages with those from his memory. During his six years of research on the Internet, he finally succeeded in recognizing the small village of Ganesh Patai.

After 20 years, he returns to the village, where he actually meets his beloved mother and two of his siblings. However, he never saw his older brother Guddu again. He was run over by a train at the station the same day Saroo was lost.

After all these years, Saroo was informed by his biological mother that he had always mispronounced his name. His real name is Sheru, the Hindi word for lion.

Own thoughts on the film

A really good film to get an impression of real India without the usual Bollywood hustle and bustle of exaggerated colors, moods and drama.

While you accompany the lost little Saroo on his train journey and the streets of Calcutta, you immediately feel set back in an India 20 years ago – as it was and still is in some places.

Little Sunny Pawar plays his role as Saroo really well and Dev Patel, whom we already now from movies like “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Best Exotic Marygold Hotel” contributes to the success of the film.

But the film wouldn’t be what it is, if it wasn’t based on the true story of Saroo Bierly (The Book: LION: The Long Way Home), who actually lost his family in India in the 1980s, was adopted by an Australian family, and then, using Google Earth, found his small home village in Madhya Pradesh.

During the film, one almost cannot believe that Saroo was able to find his family through his long research and one could quickly doubt the story if it hadn’t happened for real.