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The real-life story be­hind the new Aus­tralian film Lion is a tale so in­cred­i­ble it is hard to fathom it is ac­tu­ally true, writes

VOGUE Australia - - Vogue Film - So­phie Ted­man­son.

Sa­roo Bri­er­ley’s is a life ex­tra­or­di­nary: the ul­ti­mate tale of a lit­tle boy lost who found his way home to In­dia via Aus­tralia 25 years later through hope, de­ter­mi­na­tion, per­se­ver­ance, and the help of the in­ter­net. Lion – named af­ter Sa­roo’s Hindi name Sheru (which means lion) – is an Aus­tralian biopic adapted from Bri­er­ley’s au­to­bi­og­ra­phy A Long Way Home. Stun­ningly directed by Garth Davis, it stars Bri­tish ac­tor Dev Pa­tel as Sa­roo, Rooney Mara as his girl­friend, a pow­er­ful per­for­mance by Ni­cole Kid­man as his adop­tive mother Sue Bri­er­ley, and David Wen­ham as his adop­tive fa­ther John.

Bri­er­ley’s story be­gan in 1986 when the then-five year-old, from a small town in ru­ral In­dia, be­came lost at a train sta­tion while wait­ing for his brother, and af­ter fall­ing asleep on a train woke up more than 1,000 kilo­me­tres away. He lived on the streets, search­ing hope­lessly for his fam­ily, and was even­tu­ally adopted by an Aus­tralian cou­ple and raised in Hobart, Tas­ma­nia.

In 2009, still haunted by the fad­ing me­mories of his In­dian fam­ily, Sa­roo used Google Earth to be­gin search­ing for his home. He spent months zoom­ing in and out fol­low­ing the train tracks out of Cal­cutta “like bread­crumbs”. He also used Face­book, Mys­pace and YouTube groups to re­search lo­ca­tions and me­mories. Fi­nally, three years later, he saw some­thing fa­mil­iar that jogged his child­hood mem­ory: a bridge next to a large in­dus­trial tank by a train sta­tion.

In 2012 Sa­roo was on a plane back to Ganesh Talai, the tiny village in the town of Khandwa where he grew up and where he was fi­nally re­united with his birth mother Kamla.

Sa­roo has said of his ex­pe­ri­ence: “Ev­ery­one says what is meant to be is meant to be, but I don’t be­lieve it. If there’s a means, there’s a way. It’s some­where there, and if you give up now you’ll al­ways be think­ing later on, on your deathbed: ‘Why didn’t I keep try­ing, or at least put more ef­fort into it?’” Turn to page 120 to read Ni­cole Kid­man in con­ver­sa­tion with Sue Bri­er­ley. Lion is in cin­e­mas from Jan­uary 19.

Dev Pa­tel as Sa­roo Bri­er­ley. Sa­roo Bri­er­ley, left, with ac­tor Dev Pa­tel. Ni­cole Kid­man as Sue Bri­er­ley and Sunny Pawar as a young Sa­roo in Lion. Ni­cole Kid­man with Sue Bri­er­ley, who she plays in Lion. Sa­roo with his birth mother Kamla, far left, and...

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