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A Long Way Home

Feb 2017

A Long Way Home

The eighth session on the final day of Kolkata Literature Festival 2017 was named ‘A Long Way Home’ after the 2014 autobiographical account of the experiences of Saroo Brierley. The discussion revolved around this story which was adapted into the movie ‘Lion’.

The secretary of public affairs, Australian High Commission shortly opened the session.

The discussion was moderated by Sandip Roy who is a journalist and the author of the critically acclaimed and award-winning novel ‘Don’t let Him Know’.

“Dev spent eight months in preparing the movie. He devoted himself into perfecting the Australian accent and Nicole Kidman spent time with mum to understand her character,” said Brierley, the biopic around whom has been nominated for the prestigious Academy Awards.

Saroo recalled the vivid images in his head from day one since he found himself in Australia. It was an anomaly, he said, how he grew from childhood to an adulthood which brought a lot of surprises in his life.

“I was trying to find through visual images which I could remember. It was difficult to track down my past. I was determined and I knew that even if it’s a needle in a haystack, the needle is still there,” said the Indian-born Australian businessman.

Photos by Sourya Chakraborty

When asked by Sandip Roy about his experience in the City of Joy, Saroo narrated how at Howrah Station near Kolkata he was all of a sudden among completely unknown people out of his circle of safety. He added, “It was only gut feeling which helped me distinguish between the people who wanted to help me and the ones who did not.”

Roy remarked how tremendously lucky he had been to have reunited with his family. To this, Saroo responded describing how he had almost drowned into the Hooghly River twice. He had to face numerous trials and tribulations in finding his family 25 years after being adopted by an Australian couple.

Brierley keeps revisiting the Howrah Station every time he comes to Calcutta because this place reminds him about the twist in his tale. He attributes his incredible journey to destiny.

“Catching the wrong train can sometimes get you to the right station,” he said with a smile. “It was a chance of a lifetime[…]Hope and determination culminated into my state of affairs. It was serendipity for me. I have two families now.”

He told an enthralled hall how his adoptive mother said to my biological mother, “I’m giving up my son for you to look after.”

It indeed was an engaging session for the city to witness a session with a man who located his parents via Google Earth.

The trailer of the movie called Lion was played after the session.

Follow #KLF17 on social media to stay updated about the festival.


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