Jump to content

Lion (2016 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Australian release poster
Directed byGarth Davis
Screenplay byLuke Davies
Based onA Long Way Home
by Saroo Brierley
Produced by
CinematographyGreig Fraser
Edited byAlexandre de Franceschi
Music by
Distributed by
Release dates
  • 10 September 2016 (2016-09-10) (TIFF)
  • 19 January 2017 (2017-01-19) (Australia)
  • 20 January 2017 (2017-01-20) (United Kingdom)
Running time
118 minutes[2]
  • Australia
  • United Kingdom
Budget$12 million[3]
Box office$140.3 million[1]

Lion is a 2016 Australian biographical drama film directed by Garth Davis (in his feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Luke Davies based on the 2013 non-fiction book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley. The film stars Dev Patel, Sunny Pawar, Rooney Mara, David Wenham, and Nicole Kidman, as well as Abhishek Bharate, Divian Ladwa, Priyanka Bose, Deepti Naval, Tannishtha Chatterjee, and Nawazuddin Siddiqui. It tells the true story of how Brierley, 25 years after being separated from his family in India, sets out to find them. It was a joint production between Australia and the United Kingdom.

The film, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival on 10 September 2016, was given a limited release in North America on 25 November 2016, by The Weinstein Company before opening wide on 6 January 2017. It was released in Australia on 19 January 2017, and in the United Kingdom on 20 January 2017.

Lion was well-received by critics, with praise for the acting (particularly from Patel and Kidman), emotional weight, visuals, cinematography, and screenplay. It received six Oscar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, including for Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Patel), Best Supporting Actress (Kidman), and Best Adapted Screenplay. At the 70th British Academy Film Awards, the film won the BAFTA Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Patel) and Best Adapted Screenplay. The film was also commercially successful, making $140 million worldwide and becoming one of the highest-grossing Australian films of all time.


In 1986, five-year-old Saroo lives with his elder brother Guddu, his baby sister Shakheila, and his mother in Khandwa, India. Guddu and Saroo steal coal from freight trains to trade for milk and food. Saroo accompanies Guddu to work overnight, and they arrive at a nearby train station, where Saroo falls asleep on a bench and is unable to find Guddu upon waking up. He searches for him on an empty train, only to fall asleep in one of the compartments and awake sometime later to find the train in motion and the doors locked. After several days, the train arrives in faraway Calcutta, where Saroo does not understand the local Bengali language. He tries to obtain a ticket home, but the attendant does not recognise the name of his village, which Saroo says is "Ganestalay".[4] He spends the night in the station with some street children, but is forced to flee when a group of men try to kidnap them.

Saroo continues to wander around the city before meeting Noor, a seemingly friendly woman who takes him back to her apartment and tells him that a man named Rama will help him find his way home. Saroo escapes, sensing that Noor and Rama have sinister intentions, and evades Noor when she chases after him. After two months of living near the Howrah Bridge, Saroo is taken to the police and placed into an orphanage when authorities are unable to trace his family.

An advertisement about Saroo is placed in several local newspapers, but no one responds, though an Australian couple has become interested in adopting him. Saroo is taught basic English and moves to Hobart, Tasmania, in 1987, under the care of Sue and John Brierley, where he slowly starts to settle into his new lifestyle. A year later, they adopt another boy, Mantosh, who has trouble adjusting to his new home and suffers from rage and self-harm.

Twenty years later, Saroo, now a young man, moves to Melbourne to study hotel management and starts a relationship with American student Lucy. During a meal with some Indian friends at their home, Saroo reveals that he is not from Calcutta and was separated from his birth family more than twenty years ago, and his friends suggest he use Google Earth to search for his hometown. Saroo begins to look, and, overwhelmed by the thought of the pain he imagines his family in India must have been feeling ever since he was lost, he becomes obsessive and gradually withdraws from Lucy and his adoptive family, though he does not tell his adoptive family about his search for his biological family.

Eventually, after hearing his adoptive mother is not doing well because he has pulled away and Mantosh (who has substance abuse issues) has gone missing, Saroo visits her to apologise, and learns that she is not infertile, as he had always assumed, but wanted to help children in need through adoption. Feeling overwhelmed by how much more ground is left to cover in his search, one night Saroo recognises the rock formations where his mother worked and finds the area where he lived: the Ganesh Talai neighbourhood of the Khandwa district. He finally tells his adoptive mother about his search, and she fully supports his efforts.

Saroo returns to his hometown and, with the help of a local English speaker, has an emotional reunion with his biological mother and sister, but he is heartbroken to learn that Guddu was hit and killed by a train the same night they were separated. His mother remained in the village for the 25 years since he went missing because she never gave up hope that he would return one day. In addition to mispronouncing the name of his village, Saroo learns that he also mispronounced his own name as a child, as his biological parents named him not "Saroo", but "Sheru", meaning "lion".


  • Dev Patel as Saroo Brierley
    • Sunny Pawar as Young Saroo Brierley
  • Rooney Mara as Lucy, Saroo's girlfriend
  • David Wenham as John Brierley, Saroo's adoptive father
  • Nicole Kidman as Sue Brierley, Saroo's adoptive mother
  • Abhishek Bharate as Guddu Khan, Saroo's biological brother
  • Divian Ladwa as Mantosh Brierley, Saroo's adoptive brother
    • Keshav Jadhav as Young Mantosh
  • Priyanka Bose as Kamla Munshi, Saroo's biological mother
  • Rohini Kargaiya as Shekila, Saroo's biological sister
    • Khushi Solanki as Young Shekila
  • Deepti Naval as Saroj Sood, founder of the Indian Society for Sponsorship and Adoption (ISSA)
  • Tannishtha Chatterjee as Noor, a Calcutta woman who briefly takes in young Saroo
  • Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Rama, an acquaintance of Noor
  • Riddhi Sen as Café Man, who brings young Saroo to the authorities in Calcutta
  • Kaushik Sen as Police Official in Calcutta
  • Rita Roy as Amita, Saroo's friend at the orphanage
  • Menik Gooneratne as Swarmina, who chaperones Saroo, and later Mantosh, on their flights from India to Tasmania
  • Pallavi Sharda as Prama, Saroo's college friend
  • Sachin Joab as Bharat, Saroo's college friend
  • Arka Das as Sami, Saroo's college friend
  • Madhukar Narlwade as English Speaking Man



An Australian film,[5] Lion is based on Saroo Brierley's memoir A Long Way Home. In an interview, screenwriter Luke Davies acknowledged the challenges of adapting a book that is primarily about an online search:

It was finding the right balance of the big cinema "no-no", which is that screens on screens is not good. Yet we felt very strongly that our situation was quite different from the usual procedural crime drama TV model, where there are a whole bunch of actors that are crammed with exposition-heavy dialogue pointing at computer screens. We felt that we were a million miles away from that. The relationship with the technology was instigated by a purely and deeply emotional drive and desire to make it to the end of the myth – to find wholeness with the reunification with the lost mother and to find out who you are.[6]


Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman were cast in the film in October 2014.[7] Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Priyanka Bose, Tannishtha Chatterjee, and Deepti Naval joined the cast in January 2015;[8] Rooney Mara, David Wenham, and Divian Ladwa were cast in April;[9] and Pallavi Sharda joined the cast in August.[10]


Principal photography on the film began in January 2015 in Kolkata, India.[8] In mid-April, filming moved to Australia, first Melbourne, and then several locations in Tasmania, including Hobart.[11] Kidman filmed her scenes in Australia.[9][12]


Dustin O'Halloran and Hauschka teamed up to compose the film's score.[13] Sia wrote the song "Never Give Up" especially for the film. Also included in the film are Jimmy Radcliffe's "The Sun, the Sand and the Sea", performed by Picturetone Pete, and "Urvasi Urvasi" by A. R. Rahman.[14] Other songs featured in the film include "Blind" by Hercules and Love Affair, "State of the Heart" by Mondo Rock, and "The Rivers of Belief" by Enigma. In one scene, the character of Noor sings along with "Come Closer", an iconic track from 'Disco King' Bappi Lahiri from the film Kasam Paida Karne Wale Ki (1984).


Lion had its world premiere on 10 September 2016 at the Toronto International Film Festival.[15][16][17] It served as the opening night film at the Zurich Film Festival on 22 September.[18] It also screened at the London Film Festival on 12 October,[19] and at the Hamptons International Film Festival on 7 and 8 October.[20] The film was released in the United States on 25 November 2016,[21] in Australia on 19 January 2017,[22] and in the United Kingdom on 20 January.[23] A special red carpet charity event for the Tasmanian premiere of Lion was attended by the film's subject, Saroo Brierley, and his family at the State Cinema in December 2016.[24]

The film was made available on Digital HD on 28 March 2017, followed by a Blu-ray and DVD release on 11 April.[25][26] It debuted at No. 10 on the Top 20 NPD VideoScan chart.[27]


Box office[edit]

Lion grossed $51 million in the United States and Canada and $88.3 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $140.1 million, against a production budget of $12 million.[1]

In its limited opening weekend in the United States and Canada, the film made $123,360 from four theatres (an average of $30,840, the highest of the weekend).[28] On the weekend of 17–19 March 2017, Lion crossed the $50 million mark at the North American box-office, becoming the fifth 2016 film among the Academy Award for Best Picture nominees to surpass this threshold.[29]

In Australia, the film opened at number one with $3.18 million, the biggest opening ever for an Australian indie film, and the fifth biggest debut for an Australian film overall.[30] It went on to gross a total of $29.6 million in the country, becoming the fifth highest-grossing Australian film ever at the Australian box office.[31]

Critical response[edit]

The film received generally positive reviews, with the performances of Patel and Kidman receiving particular praise.[32][33][34] On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 84% of 270 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The website's consensus reads: "Lion's undeniably uplifting story and talented cast make it a moving journey that transcends the typical cliches of its genre."[35] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 69 out of 100, based on 45 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[36] PostTrak reported that 92% of audience members gave the film a rating of either "excellent" or "very good".[28]

The performances of Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman garnered positive reviews, earning them Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

Brian Truitt of USA Today wrote: "The finale is manipulative in every way, squeezing out the emotions of the audience. But Lion's well-plotted narrative and thoughtful characters suck you in so much that the journey there is totally worth it."[37] Novelist and critic Salman Rushdie thought highly of the film, stating that, while he often lacks interest in films nominated for an Oscar, he rooted for Lion and "would like it to win in every category it's nominated for and in most of the categories it isn't nominated for as well." Noting that he wept "unstoppably" while viewing the film, Rushdie said he is "frequently suspicious of Western films set in contemporary India, and so one of the things that most impressed me about Lion was the authenticity and truth and unsparing realism of its Indian first half. Every moment of the little boy's journey rings true – not an instant of exoticism – and as a result his plight touches us all. Greig Fraser's cinematography portrays the beauty of the country, both honestly and exquisitely [...] Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman, in the film's Australian second half, give wonderful performances too."[38]

Some critics mentioned that parts of the film move along at a slow pace. For example, Anthony Lane of The New Yorker wrote: "though wrenching, there is barely enough of it to fill the dramatic space, and the second half is a slow and muted affair after the Dickensian punch of the first."[39]


Lion received six Oscar nominations at the 89th Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Patel), Best Supporting Actress (Kidman), and Best Adapted Screenplay, but did not win in any of the categories. It did, however, win two BAFTA Awards: Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Patel) and Best Adapted Screenplay. At Australia's 7th AACTA Awards, the film won all twelve awards for which it was nominated, including Best Film.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Lion (2016)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on 4 August 2017. Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Lion (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 2 December 2016. Archived from the original on 31 July 2023. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  3. ^ "Lion, Starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, and Rooney Mara, Notches Four Golden Globe Nominations (Including Best Picture) and Zurich Film Festival Diversity in Film Award". Vanity Fair. 29 December 2016. Archived from the original on 15 January 2017. Retrieved 5 January 2017.
  4. ^ Jennings, Ken (27 April 2015). "How Google Maps Helped One Man Find His Long-Lost Family". Conde Nast Traveler. Conde Nast]. Archived from the original on 13 January 2017. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  5. ^ Buckmaster, Luke (24 February 2017). "Oscars 2017: Tanna and Lion bring heart to Hollywood in landmark year for Australian film". The Guardian. London, UK. Archived from the original on 25 February 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2017. two Australian films have been nominated for best picture at the Academy Awards: Lion and Hacksaw Ridge.
  6. ^ McKittrick, Christopher (12 December 2016). "Lion: A Powerful, Primal Childhood Fable". Creative Screenwriting. Archived from the original on 24 December 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  7. ^ Roxborough, Scott (30 October 2014). "AFM: Dev Patel Attached to Star in The Weinstein Co.'s 'Lion' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  8. ^ a b Frater, Patrick (14 January 2015). "Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel to Roar in India-set Survival Tale 'Lion'". Variety. Archived from the original on 3 October 2022. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  9. ^ a b Barraclough, Leo (7 April 2015). "Rooney Mara Joins Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel in 'Lion'". Variety. Archived from the original on 4 October 2022. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  10. ^ "Pallavi Sharda in Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman starrer 'Lion'". Indian Express m. 22 August 2015. Archived from the original on 29 March 2016. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  11. ^ Rizzo, Cailey (January 2016). "Where 'Lion' Shot All Those Incredible Tasmanian Scenes". Travel + Leisure. TIME Inc. Archived from the original on 27 February 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  12. ^ "Lion: Tasmanian farmer hosts Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel for filming of Saroo Brierley story". abc.net.au. 14 April 2015. Archived from the original on 22 March 2016. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  13. ^ "Dustin O'Halloran & Hauschka Scoring Garth Davis's Lion". Film Music Reporter. 2 March 2016. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  14. ^ Helman, Peter (10 November 2016). "Sia – Never Give Up". Stereogum. Archived from the original on 19 November 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2016.
  15. ^ Raup, Jordan (26 July 2016). "TIFF 2016 Line-Up Includes 'Nocturnal Animals,' 'La La Land,' 'American Pastoral,' and More". The Film Stage - Your Spotlight on Cinema. Archived from the original on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  16. ^ "Toronto To Open With 'The Magnificent Seven'; 'La La Land', 'Deepwater Horizon' Among Galas & Presentations". Deadline Hollywood. 26 July 2016. Archived from the original on 27 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  17. ^ "Lion". Toronto International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  18. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (29 August 2016). "'Lion' To Open Zurich Fest; Canal Plus Vet Alduy Joins Fox TV Distribution – Global Briefs". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 4 October 2022. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  19. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (17 August 2016). "Weinstein Co's 'Lion' To Roar As London Film Festival Gala Presentation". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 4 October 2022. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
  20. ^ "Sloan Science & Film". scienceandfilm.org. Archived from the original on 23 April 2023. Retrieved 23 November 2016.
  21. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (1 March 2016). "Weinstein Co.'s 'The Founder' Moves To August; 'Lion' To Roar During Thanksgiving Week". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 2 March 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2016.
  22. ^ "Lion". Transmission Films. Archived from the original on 1 February 2017. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Lion". Launching Films. Archived from the original on 27 August 2013. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  24. ^ Mather, Anne (7 December 2016). "'This is going to be big at the box office'". themercury.com.au. Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  25. ^ Lion (2016) Archived 16 June 2017 at the Wayback Machine DVD Release Dates, Retrieved 23 June 2017
  26. ^ "11 April 2017: Blu-ray, Digital HD & DVD This Week". Comingsoon.net. 11 April 2017. Archived from the original on 15 June 2017. Retrieved 22 June 2017.
  27. ^ "Force Remains With 'Star Wars' for DVD, Blu-ray Disc Sales". Variety. 20 April 2017. Archived from the original on 25 May 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  28. ^ a b Brooks, Brian (27 November 2016). "'Lion' Takes Big Share of Thanksgiving Weekend; 'Manchester' & 'Loving' Show Gusto – Specialty Box Office". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 11 April 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  29. ^ Brooks, Brian (19 March 2017). "Weinstein Company's 'Lion' B.O. Cume Surpasses $50M This Weekend". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 19 March 2017. Retrieved 19 March 2017.
  30. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (26 January 2017). "'Lion' Roars At Australia Box Office As Offshore Rollout Continues". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 8 October 2017. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  31. ^ "Top 100 Australian Feature Films of All Time". Screen Australia. Archived from the original on 8 March 2020. Retrieved 7 October 2021.
  32. ^ Styles, Aja (11 September 2016). "Nicole Kidman says adopting helped as Lion movie gets early mixed reviews". The Sydney Morning Herald. Archived from the original on 11 September 2016. Retrieved 11 September 2016.
  33. ^ Montgomery, Daniel (23 November 2016). "'Lion' reviews: Dev Patel & Nicole Kidman give 'knockout performances'". GoldDerby. Archived from the original on 6 February 2023. Retrieved 8 February 2023.
  34. ^ Macdonald, Moira (22 December 2016). "'Lion' review: Heart-tugging film roars with strong performances". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on 23 December 2016. Retrieved 22 December 2016.
  35. ^ "Lion". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Archived from the original on 26 March 2023. Retrieved 18 January 2024. Edit this at Wikidata
  36. ^ "Lion". Metacritic. Fandom, Inc. Archived from the original on 14 March 2023. Retrieved 11 October 2023.
  37. ^ Truitt, Brian (24 November 2016). "Review: Epic quest roars to life with Dev Patel in true story 'Lion'". USA Today. McLean, Virginia. Archived from the original on 25 November 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2016.
  38. ^ Rushdie, Salman (22 February 2017). "Salman Rushdie Extols the Immigrant's Struggle of 'Lion': Guest Column". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 22 February 2017. Retrieved 22 February 2017.
  39. ^ Lane, Anthony (3 January 2017). "Movies: Lion". The New Yorker. New York. Archived from the original on 4 December 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  40. ^ "Winners & Nominees". AACTA Awards. Archived from the original on 15 December 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2023.

External links[edit]