This excellent movie, based on a true story, tells the story of five-year old Indian boy, Saroo, who in 1986 gets totally and completely lost and separated from his poor, rural family. Trapped on a decommissioned passenger train, he is transported 1500 miles from his village home to Calcutta. With no local language and no ability to explain who he is or details of where he has come from, he quickly ends up on the streets, at the risk of falling into the hands of those with sinister intent. He ends up in an orphanage, but his mother cannot be located, and so he is adopted to the Brierleys in Tasmania (played by David Wenham and Nicole Kidman). They are a loving, patient couple who adopt two boys from India.
The second half of the movie is 20-25 years later as adult Saroo (Dev Patel) slowly begins to realise that with technology like Google Earth, he may be able to find out where he came from. He is haunted by the idea that his mother and siblings would still be waiting for him, never knowing what happened.
It’s a beautiful story about family. Both Saroo’s birth family and his adoptive family, in all their differences, are loving, gentle and kind. There are constant echoes of the prodigal son throughout and the joy of seeing a lost one return.
At the same time, it’s a challenging look at the lives of and risks to street children. I found the scenes of implied evil intent quite confronting, and they stayed with me for some time, feeling the pain of sin in the world and how evil is often perpetrated on the truly vulnerable. I want to give even more help to those who work with street children around the world. Linked to that is the traumatic disorders that children can have with childhoods like these – as Saroo’s adoptive brother shows.
For us as a family, it struck even more – as we have had a sponsor child in India for 10 years, but Compassion have to remove all their programs from India, after being prevented from continuing by the Indian government. This beautiful girl is now 20 and I am so sad this is the way it has to finish. We’re all in the process of writing our final letter to her.
So, while this is a great movie, be warned – it’s a confronting one too. I cried for much of it. But the overarching message is the love of a family and how that unites us all. Highly recommended.