The new movie Lion tells the true story of Saroo Brierley, who as a young boy in India was accidentally separated from his family and goes on an epic journey.
As the film begins, we meet five-year-old Saroo, played by Sunny Pawar. Lost at a train station and unable to find his way home, Saroo eventually ends up in Tasmania, adopted by a couple played by David Wenham and Nicole Kidman.
Years later, that boy, now a man played by Dev Patel, resumes the search for the family he lost in india.
Director Garth Davis was at the Sundance Film Festival in 2013 when he first heard Brierley's story from See-Saw producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman. Davis, who had built a career directing commercials in Australia, had just directed Top of the Lake, his first scripted TV miniseries, alongside Filmmaker Jane Campion. Lion would be his first feature film.
Davis tells us how he and his producers secured the rights to Brierley's story even though they were late to the chase and many other filmmakers were interested, and why he knew in his heart that he was the right person to tell this story.
He also explains why he felt it was crucial to tell the story in a linear fashion with no flashbacks, even if that meant the first half of the film would be mostly in Hindi and rely heavily on a five-year-old Indian child. Davis knew that as difficult as it was to find the older Saroo, it was the young Saroo who would pose greatest casting challenge of all--and indeed, Davis saw thousands of Indian schoolchildren before landing on Sunny Pawar.
Davis also tells us what's next for him -- he just wrapped shooting a movie about a Mary Magdalene, starring Rooney Mara, who also appears in Lion as the older Saroo's girlfriend Lucy.