What does the image of Saroo surrounded by butterflies represent?
The very first shot of the film is of Saroo standing in a field surrounded by yellow butterflies. Later, this memory of the butterflies helps Saroo to piece back together his childhood and his origins. The butterflies represent the beauty of the natural world and of life in India, but also can be read as a symbol of transformation-as-identity. They symbolize the ways that Saroo is able to bridge the gap between his adoptive identity and his origin story.
What allows Saroo to survive?
For a five-year-old, Saroo has remarkably savvy instincts and intuitions about safety and danger in the film. He manages to survive days without food on the train, fend for himself on the dangerous streets of Calcutta, and escape imprisonment by the seemingly nice but deceptive Noor. We see that Saroo is remarkably ingenious and able to suss out harm and danger when other children might not. It is this bravery and instinct that aligns with the meaning of his name, "lion."
What triggers Saroo to remember his childhood and begin wanting to know more?
At a party in college in Melbourne, Saroo sees a plate of jalebis, an Indian dessert, on the counter. This immediately reminds him of his brother and his childhood in India. After seeing this dessert, he goes back to the party and tells his classmates that he is lost and that he is not Australian. This sets his quest to find himself and his home village into motion.
What does Sue tell Saroo that surprises him?
At one point, discouraged by his identity crisis and the hardships his adoptive brother Mantosh is causing, Saroo tells Sue that he is sorry that adopting children has made her life harder. It is then that she informs him that she could have had children of her own, but chose not to because she wanted to adopt. This completely changes Saroo's perception of her, as he realizes that her drive to adopt was not out of necessity, but an authentic desire to raise Indian children. This brings them even closer to one another.
What does the orphanage teach Saroo about authority and corruption?
While he is living at the orphanage, he sees that people who are older or have power are not always good people. There is a boy at the orphanage who struggles with attention and often hits his head, and the men who run the orphanage punish the boy. It is in this moment that Saroo realizes that not all places that purport to help people actually do so, and that many people who have authority over others abuse that authority.