Garth Davis & Sunny Pawar, Director & Actor on… by Uinterview

Lion, the 2016 drama film directed by Garth Davis, is based on the non-fiction book A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley.

The film tells the story Brierley, who, at the age of five, fell asleep in a train in rural India, while waiting for his brother to fetch him. Upon awaking, he was thousands of miles away from his hometown, cut off from everyone and everything he knew.

He was eventually adopted by an Australian couple and as an adult, Saroo embarked on a long and harrowing search for his lost family, with the aid Google Earth and people he met along the way.

In an exclusive interview, we chatted with child actor Sunny Pawar, who plays young Saroo, and with director Davis.

For Pawar, his casting in the film seems to have been a pleasant accident.

“We didn’t even know that it was for an acting assignment, or an acting role in the film. And I just had a lot of fun, and then…I was shortlisted to be in the top hundred kids, and then this magician sitting on my left came with his magic wand and waved it…and made me number one,” Pawar said endearingly, gesturing to director Davis.

Davis also had his share of compliments to shower upon Pawar.

“I needed someone with a streetwise quality and an amazing instinct,” Davis said. “[Sunny] was very self-sufficient, he was independent, and he has great charm and a sense of play and all of these things connect with Saroo very quickly when I met him.”

In the film, the older version of Brierley was portrayed by actor Dev Patel, whom also seemed to get along well with Pawar.

“It was great fun to have him around, great positive guy and I love it when he tosses me in the air in his arms,” Pawar said of Patel.

 

The pint-sized star attended the 2017 Golden Globes Awards, and said it “was an absolute honor,” and that while he doesn’t watch many American movies, he had American WWE icons like The Rock and John Cena.

“I would love to meet them,” Pawar said.

Lion opened in theaters on January 6, 2017, and was the recipient of four Golden Globe Awards.


Q: Sunny, how were you cast for this role? -

So it all started off one day in school, when a lady by the name of Alicia came, took me and a couple of friends to do a workshop. We didn't even know that it was for an acting assignment, or an acting role in the film. And I just had a lot of fun, and then of course I was shortlisted to be in the top hundred kids, and then this magician sitting on my left came with his magic wand and waved it, removed it to his ear, and made me number one.

Q: Garth, why was Sunny the perfect actor for this role? -

Well Saroo came from a very poor family and he ended up living on the street so I needed someone with a streetwise quality and an amazing instinct. Saroo managed to survive all of these perils and challenges when he was lost in Calcutta. So there was something about Sunny where he was very self-sufficient, he was independent, and he has great charm and a sense of play and all of these things connect with Saroo very quickly when I met him.

Q: In the movie Dev Patel plays Sunny's older self. What was it like to meet him? -

It was great fun to have him around, great positive guy and I love it when he tosses me in the air in his arms.

Q: What was the most challenging scene in the film? -

The scene where I get hit by the motorcycle, that was the tough one.

Q: What was it like to attend this year's Golden Globes? -

It was an absolute honor. Fantastic.

Q: Did you get to meet any of your favorite celebrities? -

I don't watch much of American movies, but I have American WWE Icons like The Rock, Undertaker, John Cena. I would love to meet them.