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Film / Lion

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Lion is a 2016 movie directed by Garth Davis.

Based on a True Story, it is a film about a young Indian boy, Saroo, who is lost in a train station by his family in a faraway city where he does not speak the language. Unable to communicate where he's from or who his parents are, he is treated as an orphan and adopted to Australia. Only as a young adult, now played by Dev Patel, is he able to try to search for his family in rural India.

Dev Patel was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award for his role in this movie. Rooney Mara plays Saroo's girlfriend Lucy. Nicole Kidman plays Saroo's adoptive mother Sue.


  • 20 Minutes into the Past: The film was released in 2016, but the portions with adult Saroo take place from 2008 - 2012. For the most part, the two time periods aren't all that different in terms of aesthetic or culture, but there is one noticeable difference: in 2008, Google Earth is a brand-new, exciting, innovative piece of technology. Now that millions of people use it every day, often for very mundane purposes, it's easy to forget just how incredible it seemed back then.
  • Abusive Parents: Implied. Sue mentions her father was a drunk and "not a nice man".
  • Adaptational Curves: Inverted. Dev Patel as Saroo is quite skinny and the end credits show the real Saroo who's quite muscular.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Sue's father was a drunk.
  • Bad Samaritan: Noor. She at first seems like she'll be able to help Saroo; she takes him to her apartment so he can sleep in a bed, gets him washed up, and gives him his first decent meal in a long time. She even promises to help him find his mother! But it turns out she's bait for a sex trafficker, and plans to sell Saroo out. Fortunately, Saroo eventually realizes she can't be trusted, and is able to escape — and he meets a genuine Good Samaritan later.
  • Big Brother Worship: Saroo look up to his older brother Guddu with admiration.
  • Big Damn Reunion: Saroo manages to find and reunite with his mother after 25 years. Better yet as this happened in real life.
  • Biopic: Of Saroo Brierly and how he reunited with his biological mother.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Noor initially seems like a kindly woman who only wants to help Saroo, but then it turns out that she's planning to sell Saroo to Rama.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Saroo's happy reunion with his mother and sister is saddened when he learned that Guddu was killed on the same night he was lost by being hit by a train. However that made Saroo's accidental train trip across India an eventually fortunate thing since he likely would never been able to get home on his own, which led to Saroo having two loving families.
  • Book Ends:
    • Guddu standing on top of the train while exiting a cave.
    • Guddu and Saroo calling each other's name.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Sue says that Mantosh could do amazing things if he could control his energy.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Saroo tries to ask for help when he is lost in Calcutta. No one pays attention to him. However, a few weeks later, a kind stranger notices him and takes him to the proper authorities.
  • Close on Title: The last scene before the credits only says the word LION after revealing it's Saroo's Meaningful Name.
  • Cool Big Bro: Guddu was a kind and loving big brother to Saroo.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Implied with Mantosh. His first appearance has him appear more physically distressed than Saroo and he often goes in bouts of anger.
  • Dead All Along: In his search for his birth family, Saroo considers this trope as a possibility and is afraid that his search will amount to this. He does find his mother alive and his sister, but Guddu had since passed away; the epilogue mentions he died the same day Saroo went missing — which probably explains how Saroo ended up alone for so long and went missing in the first place.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Sue's reason for adopting Saroo and Mantosh. After an encounter with her drunken father at the age of 12, she went outside her house, contemplating her own life when she had a vision of a brown-skinned boy across from her and her as an older woman being happy with the boy.
  • Dirty Cop: When Saroo escapes from slavers kidnapping children the first time, he passes by a military man who is clearly aware of what is going on, but he isn't doing a thing to stop it. He was clearly paid off to look the other way, but he didn't try to stop Saroo from escaping.
  • Disappeared Dad: The father of Saroo and his biological siblings is never brought up.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After being lost for two and a half decades, Saroo is finally able to locate his lost family. Additionally, while some of his issues cause some friction with his adopted family, he made sure to mend them before it was too late. Now Saroo has two loving families that he keeps in contact with.
  • Flashback: There are several flashbacks showing Saroo's interactions with his family.
  • Flat Character: There isn't much to Mantosh other than that he's a slob with self-harm and anger issues and has an uneasy relationship with Saroo.
  • Foil: Guddu and Mantosh, Saroo's brothers — Despite having few memories of his older and biological brother, Guddu, Saroo had a loving relationship with him; he has known his adoptive and (presumably) younger brother Mantosh for almost all of his life but their relationship is strained.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The 25 year Time Skip shows Saroo going to college to get a degree in Hotel Management while Mantosh is now something of a flake.
  • The Ghost: Saroo's other brother, Kallu, is briefly mentioned, but he is not seen in the movie. He is notably absent in the reunion scene.
  • Good Parents:
    • While there are few memories, Saroo only has good ones of his biological mother.
    • Both John and Sue are caring, devoted, and loving parents to Saroo and Mantosh.
  • Good Samaritan: The young man who sees Saroo sitting alone on the streets. He shares some of his soup with him, and when he realizes Saroo is lost, takes him the police station and translates for him. This is what leads to Saroo getting sent to an orphanage — and getting adopted by John and Sue.
  • Happily Adopted: Saroo is very happy to have found a new family in Tasmania.
  • Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: Five-year-old Saroo innocently trusts a random woman he meets on the street, who takes him home, gets him fed and cleaned up... and nearly sells him into slavery before Saroo gets a bad feeling about the whole thing and flees.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: An extreme example. The first half of the movie features young Saroo and shows the poverty and isolation of lost Saroo in foreign lands.
  • Momma's Boy: Either with his biological or adoptive mother, Saroo loves them both dearly.
  • Mondegreen Gag: Played for Drama when young Saroo cannot pronounce his hometown of Ganesh Talai except as Kanestalee, rendering searching impossible.
    • It also turns out that Saroo had been mispronouncing his name the entire time, actually being "Sheru".
  • Mononymous Biopic Title: LION turns out to be the meaning of Saroo's name.
  • The Namesake: At the end of the movie, it's revealed "Lion" is the meaning of Saroo's given name.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Downplayed. The orphanage Saroo ends up in is crowded, loud, and has a less-than-nurturing environment. But the staff is honestly trying, and it's obviously better than what fate would've awaited him on the streets. (And, indeed, what fate nearly befell him when he bumped into Noor.)
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Saroo's poor mother lost two of her sons on the same night. One died, and the other was never found, leaving her with no choice but to hold out hope that he was still alive. It would be 25 years until she reunited with him.
  • Parents Know Their Children: Saroo's mother only has to look at him for a half second to realize it's him, even though she hasn't seen him since he was five.
  • Product Placement: Google Earth plays a prominent role in the plot, as it's the main tool that Saroo uses to find his hometown. And yes, that was the case in real life.
  • Rags to Riches: Saroo was born into a poor family and became a Street Urchin after getting separated. He was then adopted by Sue and John, an upper-middle class family.
  • Scars are Forever: Saroo has a scar on his forehead caused by collision he had with a vehicle when he was younger.
  • Spell My Name with an S: An in-story and justified example. Due to being only five at the time he was lost, it is understandable that Saroo didn't know the exact spelling or pronunciation of his hometown which made it very difficult to locate. Additionally, it is revealed his name was actually Sheru, and he had been mispronouncing it his entire life.
  • Street Urchin: Saroo becomes one when he's lost in Calcutta. He's not the only one however, the streets are filled with many wandering children. In two sequences, he is nearly kidnapped by slavers who target young children.
  • Tears of Joy: Saroo and his mother when they reunite.
  • Time Skip: Has a lot of them in the movie. From as low as 2 months to as big as 25 years.
  • Title Character: LION turns out to be one — Saroo was actually mispronouncing his name as it was "Sheru", which means "lion".
  • Trauma Button: After biting into a jalebi, a fried Indian dessert, Saroo experiences flashbacks to his hometown, and this sets off his quest to find "Kanstalee" again.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: A particularly heartbreaking one when it is revealed that Saroo's older brother Guddu was killed on the same night as Saroo's disappearance by being hit by a train.
  • Would Hurt a Child: As a child, Saroo is faced with many grown people who don't bat an eye when it comes to harming children.