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An Interview with Saroo Brierly: A Long Way From Home

Feb 2017

An Interview with Saroo Brierly: A Long Way From Home

Saroo Brierly is an Indian-born Australian businessman who was separated from his birth mother, adopted by an Australian couple and 25 years later reunited with his birth mother. His story generated significant international media attention, especially in Australia and India. An autobiographical account of his experiences, A Long way From Home, was published in 2014 and adapted into the 2016 film ‘Lion’, starring Nicole Kidman as his adoptive mother, Sue Brierly, and Dev Patel as Saroo.

  • What did it feel like when your book turned into a movie? Did you think this was turning point to shoot to fame, or were you worried that they would get your character wrong?

Initially I just didn’t know what to really expect. Just writing the book was something big for me, because I’ve never written a book. And then becoming international? And then asked to sell my rights to a motion picture. But I think it’s every author’s dream really, for their story whether factual or fiction for it to turn into a movie. I had a slight sort of feel that there has been interest from production companies, but I didn’t realized how large an interest there was with regards to it becoming a movie, so I’m sort of humbled and touched, and it’s definitely a milestone in my life.

  • Talking of turning books to movies, if it’s a fiction like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings you have chunks left out to manage screen time, or if it’s biographical like yours, they tend to over dramatize it to draw in crowds. Did you face such a situation in your case?

I think all movies have that with the creative right that they get, that they can sort of build in situations in the script. So there’s no sort of movie that they have turned straightaway word for word from a book, they have that creativeness. And there are some things in the movie that are being slightly altered and changed. But once you sign that piece of paper giving away your rights, a lot of people don’t have much say, but for me I had quite a bit say in keeping the movie real to the real life events, with the slight changes. So I’m pretty happy with that. It’s like ninety percent of the film is real life events.

  • Do you believe that Dev did justice to your character in the movie?

Definitely. Of course I would have liked to be more, as every author would like to be more on the screen. But it’s a ten hour story telling compressed into two hours. And viewing time is important people would like to see a movie for two hours rather than three hours, and compacting that is a job in itself really. But I think that there’s justice done anyway. And anyone who has been playing in the movie has done a perfect job.

  • It’s said that every person has at least one story in them. You have told your one main story. Would you continue on as an author or what are your future plans?

I reckon another book and another movie is the way to go. A prequel book and a prequel movie. I’ve never really written a book before, but maybe writing scripts and books is my new forte.

  • What were your early influences in literature?

Just probably reading Tin Tin books (laughs). I mean I was avid reader of Tin Tin, it just being part of the art, but not really much into writing in those days. It’s the first time I’ve written so much. I don’t really have a huge background in writing literature and stuff like that. But I guess that I just had an amazing story

  • If you would continue to write in a particular genre, what would that genre be?

Just more sort of real stuff, factual than fictional. I don’t know, maybe, still in the same genre about people and the way that people think, and the truth about personal selves and how to get over trials and tribulations, and mental problems and stuff like that. Maybe more stuff towards that area, and drama and relationships and families and such. I think from what I know and from what I’ve been taught, I’ve been putting a lot of myself into that genre, of my trials, hardships and tribulations. Not just this book, but with growing older as every person.

  • Like Khaled Hosseini, maybe?

Yeah yeah! I like him.

  •  Are there any special childhood memories before five years of age that you would talk about a lot in Australia that eventually led to the writing of this book and thereof?

I didn’t really talk to others much about my past. I did talk a lot about my past to myself, in my memories and stuff like that. And it wasn’t just one but rather a multitude of events in my past that I find so close to me. It’s hard to pin point and narrow down to one specific (memory) ; they are all encapsulated as one big package.

  • A word for our young readers….

If they want to write a book and they want to start then I think the first thing is that they need to sit down, open a laptop or a piece of paper and start writing their thoughts. Because at the end of the day that raw data is the stuff that people are interested in. Everybody talks but it’s the people who are proactive are the people that are successful.

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