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4-min read

Oscars 2017: Why Dev Patel Deserves to Win for Lion

While the film has some very good actors, it’s ultimately a film that showcases Dev Patel’s talent.

Shomini Sen | News18.comshominisen

Updated:February 26, 2017, 1:55 PM IST
Oscars 2017: Why Dev Patel Deserves to Win for Lion
Image: A still from Lion

As the world gears up for the glittering Oscar awards ceremony that is to take place in less than 24 hours from now, all eyes are on who will take home the coveted trophy. While awards favourite La La Land is likely to take home the maximum Oscars, a small film called Lion is what India will be rooting for the most. And perhaps celebrate the most if its lead actor, Dev Patel, wins the Best Supporting Actor award for his sublime performance as the confused, seeking Saroo.

Set in India and Australia, Lion narrates the story of Saroo, who, as a child gets separated from his family one fateful night and finds himself lost in the crowded city of Calcutta, unsure on how to return back to his ammi and his elder brother Guddu. Months later, having been picked up by an adoption agency, Saroo is sent to Tasmania to his new home and parents, an Australian couple who raise him as their own. And while Saroo calls himself an Australian when he grows up, his memories of India and his home keep haunting him. With the help of Google Earth, Saroo traces back to his roots and his mother. Based on the real life incident of Saroo Brierley, the film boasts an impeccable line of actors.

Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Priyanka Bose make Lion the most heartwarming film with their genuine performances.

While the film has some very good actors, it’s ultimately a film that showcases Dev Patel’s talent. Dev delivers a restrained performance in the film and makes Saroo and his pain real and almost relatable. Many of us may not have gone through what Saroo did, yet somewhere the yearning to be to find his biological mother, his family and his actual home is a feeling that a lot of us can identify with. Patel’s performance is pitch perfect – from being the anxious Australian youth to finally coming home and meeting his mother 25 years later – the actor’s performance is bound to bring tears to one’s eyes. Poignant, heartwarming and very real, Patel deserves all accolades for his performance. Yet will he be the first Indian actor to win the Golden statue?

It is a well-known fact that India has had very poor representation at the Oscars. In the nearly nine decades of its existence, the Academy has honoured only 5 Indians with the award. Out of those, none are for acting which is why Dev Patel’s nomination itself is a landmark. The actor is the first true-blue Indian to have achieved such a feat. Previously Sir Ben Kingsley held this coveted place but he is only half-Indian. So on 26th night, if Patel wins, it is truly going to be a historic win not just for the 28-year-old actor, but also for India.

Patel’s strongest competition comes from actor Mahasher Ali, who has been nominated for his thought provoking role in Moonlight. The odds are bent towards Ali no doubt, as he has lapped up most of the other awards in this category with Patel only beating him in BAFTA and AACTA International Awards.

The nominations this year has been the most diverse at the Oscars. Having received severe criticism in the past years for being ‘white’, the Academy has included African- American as well as Asian actors within the nominee list. Considering the political climate of America right now, and the fact that most film personalities are being vocal in their criticism for the government, the Academy’s final list of winners is expected to be diverse as well. Bets are being made for Denzel Washington and Viola Davis winning for their performance in Fences. And pundits have also predicted that Hidden Figures, a movie about three African-American women creating history in NASA, may just clinch the Best Film trophy. In an attempt to make it diverse, the Academy will take extra efforts to honour and recognise talents of coloured actors. But where does India stand? India’s only representation is through Lion- a film that comprises of many Indian actors who have not been acknowledged at all, apart from Patel’s Best Supporting Actor nomination of course.

While the film is beautiful story a man’s journey back to his roots, the film also scores over for highlighting poverty of a third world country. Unfortunate truth but the Academy and Hollywood at large tends to focus on India’s poverty more. Slumdog Millionaire, Salaam Bombay and Lagaan are just few of the examples of how India’s poverty has time and again fascinated the Academy and made them notice our films. All stories of hardship and triumph over odds, films that glorify the poor and their struggle always manage to strike a chord in the west. And so, Lion might just win big this year.

Above all, Patel’s conviction and ability to bring Saroo’s pain, struggle and eventual happiness on screen is praise-worthy. A scene where he finally meets his biological mother is so beautifully performed by both Patel and Priyanka Bose that it brings happy tears to one’s eyes. The maturity with which Patel handles his character deserves awards, accolades and so much more. And thus, we are rooting for this Brit-Indian boy to get his hands on the trophy.

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| Edited by: Sameeksha
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