Boy Won­der

India Today - - LEISURE - —Suhani Singh

Nom­i­nated for Os­cars in the best pic­ture, best cin­e­matog­ra­phy and best orig­i­nal score cat­e­gories (with a nom­i­na­tion for Dev Pa­tel as best sup­port­ing ac­tor), Lion is the clos­est In­dia will get to an Academy Award when the hard­ware is doled out Fe­bru­ary 26 (tele­cast in In­dia on the morn­ing of Fe­bru­ary 27).

The true story of Sa­roo Bri­er­ley, who tracked down his bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents in Khandwa, Mad­hya Pradesh, some 25 years after he was sep­a­rated from them by a tragic mis­take, Lion fea­tures Slum­dog Mil­lion­aire star Dev Pa­tel, Bol­ly­wood’s Priyanka Bose and Ni­cole Kid­man. But it’s Sunny Pawar (pic­tured be­low)—who plays the five-year-old Sa­roo—who has the US me­dia going gaga. “He kills it on the red car­pet and talk shows,” says Bose, who plays Sa­roo’s bi­o­log­i­cal mother, Ka­mala. She also de­scribed Ka­mala as a “strong sin­gle mother” who never loses hope de­spite los­ing two of her

four kids in one night. Di­rected by Garth Davis, Lion fol­lows five-year-old Sa­roo as he ac­ci­den­tally boards a train to Cal­cutta—be­com­ing lost—where he is even­tu­ally adopted by an Aus­tralian fam­ily. Twenty-five years later, the grown up Sa­roo (Dev Pa­tel) uses Google Maps to find his way back home.

The di­rec­tor’s team fea­tured first as­sis­tant Ananya Rane, who worked on Mil­lion Dol­lar Arm and Life of

Pi. In­dia cast­ing di­rec­tor Tess Joseph tapped Tan­nishtha Mukher­jee, Nawazud­din Sid­diqui, Deepti Naval and child ac­tor Ab­hishek Bharate, and dis­cov­ered Pawar after in­ter­view­ing over 2,000 school kids.

Though it’s won plenty of plau­dits, Lion didn’t come out a win­ner at the re­cent Golden Globes, where Pawar stole the show. The in­evitable com­par­i­son to Slum­dog may even hurt its chances at an Os­car. As Rane said, “There’s no masala. These are real events that have hap­pened. It’s more an in­tro­spec­tive jour­ney.”

NEW DIS­COV­ERY SUNNY PAWAR, WHO PLAYS THE FILM’S MAIN CHAR­AC­TER AS A CHILD, HAS CHARMED AU­DI­ENCES WORLD­WIDE

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