Lion (2016 Film)

Lion (2016 Film) Summary and Analysis of Part 5


Saroo has a memory of the time after he was injured carrying the watermelon, and his mother scolded his brother for not looking after him. He goes to see Sue, who tells him that Mantosh is out on the boats doing a lobster run, which implies that he will be without money and start doing hard drugs again.

Saroo tells Sue that he is sorry that she and John could not have their own kids, since he and Mantosh have been so difficult. "You weren't just adopting us, but our pasts as well," he says, but this upsets Sue, who tells him that she could have had children, but chose not to. She tells him that she and John fell in love because they both believed that there were enough children in the world and they wanted to adopt and give a chance to children who were suffering. Sue then talks about the fact that when she was 12, with an alcoholic and abusive father, she had a vision of a brown-skinned child and knew that everything would be fine.

After speaking with Sue, Saroo goes to visit Mantosh at his house. "I'm sorry for what I said at dinner," he says to his sleeping brother. Later, he goes home and goes on Google Earth, moving randomly around India trying to piece together his past. Suddenly, he stumbles upon a small village that strikes him as familiar, triggering a memory. He flashes back to the moment from the beginning of the film, in which we saw a young Saroo surrounded by a swarm of butterflies. From this, he is able to trace his memory back to his hometown. He finds the name of the village, Ganesh Talai.

Saroo weeps as he sees his childhood home on the map. He runs to Lucy's house and wakes her up early in the morning. She smiles and hugs him when he tells her that he found his home. "Please wait for me," he tells her, and she tells him she will. He then shows Sue his maps and Sue tells him she hopes that his mother is still in Ganesh Talai.

In Khandwa, India, in 2012, Saroo rents a room in a hotel and prepares to find his mother. In the village, he walks down alleyways in search of his childhood home, eventually arriving at a small house. There, he sees some goats and hits a wall, frustrated. When a man comes and asks him what he needs, Saroo tells him that he used to live in the house. He shows the man his childhood picture, and the man walks off, motioning for Saroo to follow him.

The man brings Saroo to another part of the village, where he encounters his mother, now an older woman. She embraces him, overjoyed to be reunited with him. They laugh about the scar on his head from the watermelon incident, and a happy crowd gathers around. When Saroo asks about Guddu, he learns that Guddu died. They weep for a moment, then Saroo's mother introduces him to his younger sister, Shekila, and they hug.

Saroo leaves a message for Sue letting her know that he is safe and has found his mother. "She understands that you're my family. She's happy just knowing I'm alive," he says. Saroo has a vision of his brother, Guddu, while standing on a train track and follows the vision. In captions, we learn that Saroo had been lost for over 25 years when he returned to the village, and that his brother, Guddu, was hit by a train on the same night that he left Saroo. Saroo also learned that his name was actually "Sheru," meaning "lion."


In this final section of the film, Saroo has a moment of reckoning with Sue. Unmoored by his personal struggle to understand his own identity, and saddened by the tragic choices his adopted brother Mantosh is making, Saroo expresses his sympathy to his adopted mother, whom he believes to have had to choose adoption as a result of being biologically unable to conceive. She quickly refutes this and tells him that it was her choice to adopt, and that she does not regret it. Learning that he was not an alternative, but a choice, changes Saroo's perceptions of his adoptive mother, and connects them more deeply.

Hearing more about Sue's perspective on her life, Saroo realizes that he needs to open up to the people around him, even if it is painful. While his search for his origins has caused him to shut down and retreat inward, he now sees that his life in Australia is part of his journey, and he can rely on the people there to help him discover more about his past in India. We see him sitting in a car after speaking to Sue, as rain begins to pound on the windshield, a representation of the emotional catharsis he is feeling.

In Saroo's revelation about where he comes from, the film shows the ways that memory is so geographical, connected to relationships to space as much as images. Saroo scans Google Earth for his hometown on the night that he figures out where he is from, and we see flashes of memories from his childhood, all of which line up with the surface of the map. His memories take on topographical characteristics, tied to the places in which he had particular experiences. As he scans Google Earth, piecing together his past, it seems like some kind of miracle.

After years away, Saroo returns to the village of his youth and is reunited with his mother. She instantly recognizes him and they embrace, in a moment of overwhelming emotion. After having seen all that Saroo has been through in his life, his immense journey across continents and then home again, the audience is aligned with his journey, and his story is deeply moving. For the first time in the film, Saroo's journey, in all its complications and contradictions, is unified and connected, as he is reunited with the mother who bore and raised him.

Making Saroo's return bittersweet is the fact that Guddu, his biological brother, has died. In the final moments of the film, Saroo has a vision of Guddu on the train tracks, beckoning him to follow him along the train tracks. He does so, following the spirit of the brother he loved into an unknown spiritual realm. In the final credits, we also learn that, devastatingly enough, Guddu was killed by a train on the same night that Saroo disappeared.