When Saroo Brierley was a small child growing up in rural India, he fell asleep on a train platform while waiting for his brother to come back from an errand. When he awoke, his brother had yet to return. So an uncertain Saroo stepped on a train to look for him and wasn’t able to get off until it stopped in Kolkata, nearly 1,000 miles from his home. Unable to tell authorities where he came from, Brierley was, for all intents and purposes, an orphan. Eventually, he was adopted by the Australian couple John and Sue Brierley, and as he reached adulthood, became obsessed with trying to find his birth family by searching obsessively for his hometown on Google Earth. His story, as told in his memoir, A Long Way Home, serves as the basis of the new film Lion, directed by Garth Davis and starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman.
“I didn’t really know what I was getting into in agreeing to having my life portrayed in a movie,” says the 35-year-old Brierley. “You just hope to god that your story is done justice. But, you know, I’m a pretty resilient guy, so I was optimistic.”
In this exclusive scene from Lion, the young Saroo (played by Sunny Pawar) is taking etiquette lessons with other new adoptees in advance of meeting his new parents for the first time. “We were being prepped on Western culture,” explains Brierley about this scene. “The norm for us was eating with our hands, so we had this strange experience of learning the names of things like pepper and the different cutlery. It’s a story with a lot of hardship in it, but there were a lot of comical moments, too.”
Lion is in theaters November 25.