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LION (English/2016) - An emotionally uplifting film which once again depicts INDIA in a bad light and we know the westerners do have a fascination for such dark representation of our country since decades. (Review by Bobby Sing)

07 Mar, 2017 | ALL ABOUT INSPIRED MOVIES / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / L / Movie Reviews / 2017 Releases

Starting with the praises, LION is sure to make you shed some heartfelt tears both in the beginning as well as in the end witnessing a lost son meeting his mother post 25 long years with the help of the new technological development of Google Earth.

Based on an amazing real life story of Saroo Brierley, adopted by a caring Australian couple after getting lost boarding an unknown train to Calcutta from Madhya Pradesh, LION is the onscreen portrayal of Saroo’s traumatic memoirs compiled in a book titled A LONG WAY HOME and certainly has got some powerful merits to its credits asking for an essential watch.

A heart wrenching tragic story enhanced by all genuinely relatable performances, the film has Dev Patel coming up with probably his best and most mature act till date and Nicole Kidman who simply is adorable as the so understanding Australian mother of two adopted Indian kids. In fact the reason why the film gets some extra brownie points is the way director Garth Davis brilliantly conceives the scenes focusing on Nicole and Dev in particular, along with the trauma faced by the small child wandering through the empty train, railway stations, Calcutta roads and more before finally reaching an orphanage meeting a noble soul.

(Spoilers Ahead)

Introducing an outstanding ‘wonder kid’ playing the young Saroo, LION actually manages to touch you deep because of the immensely natural and lovable act of Sunny Pawar who in just a few scenes makes an instant connect with the viewers despite speaking his entire dialogues in Hindi (in an English film). The visuals break your heart in the opening hour watching the two kids stealing the coal from a moving train and the younger one losing his way unknowingly getting asleep in an empty compartment. Interestingly the sequences strongly remind you of the very fine start of our own dud GUNDAY and we also get to see some short and unimportant cameos played by known faces such as Deepti Naval, Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Tannishtha Chatterjee.

Things become lighter towards the middle where the film looks like dragging for a while with a few predictable and repetitive sequences leaving you with some questions unanswered. The visual appeal gets lost and writing is less impressive in this specific part of the film largely saved by the earnest supporting acts to be honest. Thankfully the strong emotional pull once again brings you in as Saroo travels back to India to meet his real mother.

The final sequence simply touches your heart and you do feel like crying and clapping together with all the real life village people emoting on the screen. But that is not all as the director further makes you meet the real Saroo and his two mothers hugging each other with love, along with disclosing the truth of Saroo’s elder brother’s death in a train accident that happened on the same cruel night Saroo got lost.

Thinking about the tragedy you do feel sad and shocked together before getting a faint smile back on your face when a text slide reveals the connection between the title and Saroo’s real name, which he innocently couldn’t pronounce well in his early childhood (that frankly also made me recall the classic RAIN MAN)

Coming to the sick presentation of India in its opening hour, it was certainly as per the need of the subject and as narrated by the man who experienced it all by himself. Yet there can be no denial to the fact that it does continue to sell the same old picture of India to the audience abroad as many producers and directors have been doing in the past decades. Having said that, the Indian part of LION still unarguably remains the strongest part of the narrative and for that the deserving credits need to be given to the talented team of its director, cinematographer and the composer of a highly effective background score together.

Looking at it from a different angle, I do find it really strange that how these western (or brought up in West) filmmakers always deliberately choose the stories related to poverty only from India and rarely the other way round. Watching the same happening since the early Ismail Merchant produced movies in the 60s-70s to the likes of SALAAM BOMBAY, CITY OF JOY, the Oscar Winner SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and the latest widely acclaimed LION, probably they are not aware or willing to be aware of anything else about India (or its rich literature) and thus keep returning back to the slums, poverty, sex workers, child trafficking, exploitation of labour and more similar topics in a repetitive mode.

No doubt poverty sells and actually makes such films reach the reputed festivals and awards much easily than the rest. However the biased and purposeful approach is clearly visible, provided one is willing to accept the truth with open eyes.

For instance in the present film too, the proceedings keep suggesting as if everything is happening wrong in a life spend in the poverty driven, under-developed India and it’s all just perfect in the rest of the world in a country like Australia. So the film, its writers or director tell you nothing about the problems in life spend in a foreign land and keep returning back to the dark visuals of India as often recalled by the main protagonist going back to his childhood memories.

Yes, the film is based on the real life memoirs written by the main character Saroo himself, but I personally found the onscreen depiction to be much hurried, biased and a half told truth, straight away jumping on to the young college days of the grown up Saroo (skipping more than a decade of his life).

Anyway, watching it as an Indian, what we can certainly learn from the movie is that such uncomfortable truths of life still prominently exist in our Indian society even in this so called developed new millennium. And the foreigners still find it fascinating enough to watch such ugly visuals of our country receiving roaring appreciation all over the world in the artistic festival circuits. So neither they have changed much nor we Indians in our uncaring, ignorant outlook towards these harsh realities.

Rating : 3.5 / 5 (including a strong appreciation for the wonder kid Sunny Pawar)

Tags : LION Movie Review by Bobby Sing, Lion English Film Review by Bobby Sing, LION Hindi-English movie made on real life memoirs, Sunny Pawar, Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman in LION, Same format of SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, Selling poverty of India to the world, Western Films Reviews by Bobby Sing, New English Films Reviews by Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com
07 Mar 2017 / Comment ( 2 )

Perfect review Bobby ji! Though i expected few negative marks for shamelessly using india\'s problems for their own benefit. Thanx a lot for responding to my request and reviewing the film :)

Bobby Sing

The Pleasure is really mine Anurag and glad that you liked the piece.
Keep Visiting and Writing in.

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