In “Lion,” five year old Saroo gets lost on a train which takes him thousands of miles across India, away from home and family. Saroo must learn to survive alone in Kolkata, before ultimately being adopted by an Australian couple. Twenty five years later, armed with only a handful of memories, his unwavering determination, and a revolutionary technology known as Google Earth, he sets out to find his lost family and finally return to his first home.
The Knockturnal was on the red carpet for the film’s NY Premiere at MoMA. Read our red carpet interviews below:
Can you speak about preparing physically and emotionally for the role?
Dev Patel: They kind of go hand in hand. When a skinny dude like me having to go to the gym and pump weights for eight months. You’re constantly thinking about the character. You’re constantly trying to do justice to the end product, and I did. I went on a real, more than the physical journey. It was a spiritual journey. I went to India a couple of weeks early. The first scene I had to shoot in the movie was the end. When you haven’t built any history with any of your actors and you’re going in and shooting the climax of this movie, a lot of pressure is riding on it. I felt like I’d been living this guy’s life. I say I did a pilgrimage of Saroo for eight months. I traveled the trains across India, watched the landscape change. I wrote diaries, I visited orphanages, I met the real Mrs. Sood who was a woman who helped him get out of that home. It was a process of isolation really. That’s what he is. Even though he’s surrounded by people, he’s kind of a lone iceberg floating among this tide of humanity. It was really interesting to be able to be pushed into that space.
How was meeting the real Saroo?
Dev: I was terrified because we’d already shot the climax. He’s so lovely. We met in Australia when I went out there to do that part. He is so generous. The whole family’s so open. Saroo is the epitome of a fiercely driven young man. He has an incredible memory down to the eggs I ordered at that meal to the clothes I was wearing, the music I listened to in the car. Everything he remembers crystal clear.
When you went to do this movie, what did it mean to you personally?
Dev: It means so much. I keep saying this, but I never read roles like this. To get a role that’s so meaty like this, that has some gravitas and he’s not playing some goofy best friend or some tech geek. He’s actually using technology in fact in a very emotional manner to [find] his past. With every click of that mouse, he’s getting one step closer to his mother. It was amazing to adopt that space and to have the opportunity more than anything.
What did you love about this script?
Priyanka Bose: What’s not to love about this script? I was already obsessed with the story and then I put myself on tape and then this script came to me before I met Garth after two months of putting myself on tape and I read the script and I’m like I was into this immersive world of triumph and it was just incredible.
What do you love about your character?
Priyanka: There are many things. Technically if I tell you for an actor it’s interesting to go through the trajectory of doing a young person and then going into an old, that journey … and there’s the existential question about if there is God. These were the things that actually attracted me to this character and I had to just trust that everything will come together technically.
What was the experience like of shooting in India?
Priyanka: India is a hard location to actually shoot in and there are many many people on site sometimes and there are many people in crowd. Controlling crowd is a huge task but thankfully we’ve had a great line producer on board India Take One and they are very good and they have specialized in this and so were good.
Congratulations on the film. Tell me about the role you play.
Deepti Naval: I play a character called Mrs. Sood. She’s the woman who runs this orphanage in Calcutta. She picks up street children and she you know, makes a home for them. And then she tries to find adoption for a child as and when it happens. So I met this lady in Calcutta. She lives in the outskirts of Calcutta now but I met her. And she’s very little different from the way I was asked to play her. But it was very interesting to meet somebody real. And then you’re going to just impersonate them on the screen, which was something which actors don’t get to do all the time. You know, once in a while, you get a role where you’re going to play a real person. But the best part was the scenes with the boy. Sunny, the young actor. Because when I first saw him, I was so amazed by his face, his eyes, his face. I mean he’s so enchanting, little thing, you know? (laughs) So I was like, quite mesmerized by his look and you kind of keep looking at him. You can’t get his eyes off him so easily.
How was working with Garth, the director?
Deepti: Garth is amazing. Garth is a very, very sensitive director. I mean, actors love to say that about directors that they work with. Oh, he’s the most sensitive director, but Garth is truly, one of the most sensitive directors that I have had a chance to work, even though I may have done two scenes in the film, but I feel that’s the quality of work I’d like to do. At least that quality of work I’d like to do in future.
What most surprised you about this story?
Deepti: No, I was familiar with the book. So I was very thrilled that this was going to become a film. Because there’s so much visual in the, you know, in the story. It can be translated visually in so many ways. And I thought it was a perfect subject to convert into a film.
Congratulations! Tell me about your vision for the music for this film and introduce yourselves.
Dustin: I’m Dustin O’Halloran.
Hauschka: And I’m Hauschka.
Dustin: This is an emotional film. It’s an epic journey in someone’s life, so we always had to approach it in this way. We knew we were going to be telling a story that would have incredible longing. He’s being propelled by a spiritual pull to his family. There were a lot of emotional elements that we needed to put in the score.
Hauschka: I played a concert in Melbourne. Garth Davis the director came to my show and asked me if I would be interested in scoring the movie together with Dustin, not knowing that Dustin and me are very good friends for over 10 years. For me that was just like an invitation of having a great time. I said to him, I would be totally happy. Collaboration means for me that you have to step back with your own effort and make a good team. I think we had a great experience doing that. We really were choosing the right music and not the most egotistic decisions. We were just stepping back and saying, okay, this theme is great, this thing is awesome. Let’s combine that.
How did you get your start in composing for a film?
Hauschka: We are both recording artists. We are releasing a lot of records and we are going on tour, playing concerts. A lot of people are approaching us just because they know our records. I know Dustin was maybe starting a little earlier with making film music, but I was already in the age of 18 writing some score for a television series. There was always an attachment to film, but it needs always the right approach and the right people that are asking you and the right combination of people.
Dustin: I made a solo piano record and through that, Sofia Coppola asked me to write some music for Marie Antoinette, so I did a couple pieces for her film and then slowly just starting doing more film work. We’ve always done our own music, Hauschka and I have both. The film work has been in the background slowly building and it’s getting busier now for sure.
The film hits theaters on November 25.