“Guddu kahan gaya? Guddu?… (Where did Guddu go? Guddu?…)”
If I am beginning with these simple words, I think I am starting off well. We hear similar words of inquiry regularly, spoken either by us or by someone around us.
However, have we ever tried discovering the ‘depth’ of the words we speak? In my case, I throw words everywhere and quite recklessly. But, for a moment or two, I do imagine the ‘angst’ behind the words I speak – something not quite describable by words, but present nonetheless.
I was a part of the audience who saw the movie “Lion”, and exited the theatre with tears and admiration. I felt the best I could have after watching it. However, certain peculiar cinematic and humane traits of the movie needed to be unfolded.
That night, I continued to hear the cry of the poor toddler, Saroo, who loses his tender consciousness while laying on a bench on that particular lonely platform. After all, he is the one who loses touch with his young brother forever. He also has to feed his starving family by fetching coal from loaded carts in the wilderness.
A kid made to travel miles by an unstoppable train with no one even being aware of his plight was not haunting enough, until I put myself in the shoes of the kid. Furthermore, searching for loved names when one remembers not the names but only the faces, seemed to be thrilling for me.
Cinema and other media have frequently portrayed Indian children living on the streets being trafficked or sold into other such inhuman businesses. “Lion” did the same thing. Pertinently enough, the film shows how people who look like ‘respectable members of the society’ use ultra-sneaky methods like drugging kids’ food to traffic them.
When the kid adapts to the reality around, he is ‘astounded’. The prospect of being taken in by a sponsoring family is no longer a dream, but an unprecedented beginning.
But, does this beginning help detach the kid (who grows up in the course of the movie) from his past? No! A man from the West does mould the kid’s personality. However, he can’t shake off the impact of losing his home at an age when he had just started pronouncing his own name. The development of his conscience, while tracing his way back home, is mainly guided by the voices and eyes of his mother and brother.
In this context, his use of Google Maps shouldn’t be seen as something that is indicative of his material wealth. It should rather be seen as the universe helping to find his way back.
At this point, it should be obvious that I am pitching the fact that Saroo finds his actual self only by separating with his family and then finding his way back. Even though the film weaves these events, it focusses more on the aspects of emotional separation and its after-effects.
For a common person, therefore, it is something very relatable to what one experiences very often. “Lion” minutely captures human emotions such as anxiety, throughout. After all, Saroo finally obtains meaning in his life on reuniting with his mother, in place of the banality of the life that he had been leading till that point.
Seen along these lines, the film reflects the authentic face of physical and emotional detachment in characters ranging from Saroo to others who may not have experienced separation themselves. Interestingly, though it is convenient to portray the emotional grief by facial expressions, what often remains unobserved is the underlying essence of life in the portrayal of grief. The source of this essence is the family – a separation from which causes the grief in the first place.
Therefore, the climactic glee on Saroo’s face can be considered as the true expression of a man who has borne adversity for an extended time. This is where the beauty of “Lion” lies – in its representation of purer forms of the human self.