Sunny Pawar, little Saroo in Lion, which releases here on February 24
Saroo Brierley, whose memoir A Long Way Home has inspired the film Lion, at the Calcutta premiere of the Dev Patel-Nicole Kidman-Rooney Mara-Sunny Pawar starrer at INOX (Quest) on Sunday evening.
At age five little Saroo accidentally boarded a train at Khandwa, in Madhya Pradesh, and ended up alone on the streets of Calcutta. Subsequently, he was put in an orphanage and adopted by an Australian couple in 1987. Much later, he embarked on a Google Earth-aided mission to find his birth mother. After being reunited with her, Saroo has been to Calcutta 15 times in the last four years.
On Sunday, the businessman-cum-author walked into a movie theatre in Calcutta for the first time. âIt is massive, giant. It is very glamorous... the theatre is neat and clean and beautiful.... Calcutta is such an integral part of my journey, and I really wanted a premiere here because Lion has Calcutta in it,â said Saroo, who is now working on a prequel to A Long Way Home.
Chris Elstoft, Australiaâs deputy high commissioner to India, and Saroo. The premiere was organised by the Australian High Commission in India and hosted by Chris.
Mainak Bhaumik highlighted the chemistry between Saroo and his older brother Guddu as the main emotional pulse of the film. âItâs the gripping journey of a boy lost in a station to being almost abducted and abandoned, starving and to finally finding a home in Australia that makes the movie for me. The way they shot Calcutta was quite breathtaking in the close-ups and mid shots of trying to recreate Calcutta of the 1980s. A very tricky shoot that was well cut and shot,â said the filmmaker.
Parno Mittra felt Sunny Pawar as little Saroo was âperfectâ for the part. âHe is brilliantâ¦ and he is so cute! People of that age are so honestâ¦ they donât fake an emotion. You just look at his eyes and you can see through. Thatâs what touches you when you see Sunny. It is magic,â smiled the actress.
For Shaun and Pinky Kenworthy, Sarooâs story was âincredibleâ. âItâs destiny... to find a new life and your way back to your own lost familyâ¦ itâs such a touching true story. The scene where he is stuck in a train and for a kid, he only knows his mummyâ¦ he didnât even know his mumâs nameâ¦ in fact, he mispronounced his own name (Sheru). That was the best one. Another poignant scene was how the mother knew it was him and he knew it was his mother when they reunited after so many years. The relationship with his elder brother (Guddu) was also very touching,â said Pinky.
Shaun felt it was an âemotional roller-coaster for everybodyâ. âThe bit to take away is that there are so many kids in that situationâ¦ like thatâ¦ he was lucky to survive,â said the star chef.
Victor Banerjeeâs wife Maya and daughter Keya spent the âbetter partâ of Monday morning discussing Lion. âThe highlight would be the little boy (Sunny), without a doubt. I donât know how he was guided! Completely untrained, but he was fantastic and he emoted so well,â said Maya. Lion was overall replete with âfantastic performancesâ, felt the
mother-daughter duo. âNicole Kidman was really up to her usual markâ¦ even Priyanka Bose (who plays Sarooâs mom)
was a natural,â said Maya.
Tina Mukherjeeâs pick was Nicole Kidman. âSuperb!â she smiled. The model-turned-choreographerâs takeaway from the film was the âmessage of hopeâ.
Sneha Ghosh normally doesnât cry at movies. On Sunday, she did. âI couldnât control myself. Things like theseâ¦ you see them in movies. What we saw unfold was real life!â she smiled. The word that describes the movie best? âMiraculous! You just believe in life a little more than you used to,â said the model. Her performance pick? Sunny Pawar. âHats off to Dev Patelâ¦ he acted well and his body looked great, but itâs that little boyâ¦ just so endearing,â she said.
Pictures: B. Halder